Boris Is Coming For The BBC

So, there we have it. After a lot of whispers and hints, it would appear a Number 10 source has leaked what Boris wants to happen to the BBC. To be blunt, it's not great news for the corporation.

It has started with ministers suggesting the Government will legislate to decriminalise non-payment of the tv licence fee. That, of course, would effectively make it a voluntary sum, akin to a donation to public sector broadcasting.

However, that is just the start. The Sunday Times led yesterday with the inside scoop on Boris wanting to scrap the tv licence and replace it with a subscription fee. Overnight, the BBC would be turned from arguably the best known public service broadcaster to a Netflix rival. 

The impact would be far-reaching. The papers reckon that the BBC will be allowed to keep its classical music station, BBC Radio 3, as well as its current affairs, comedy and drama station, BBC Radio 4.

There is a question mark over Radio 1 and Radio 2, but all the local radio stations are expected to be sold off.

The number of television channels will be severely stripped down from the current 10 to a number that has yet to be decided. The scope of the BBC website will also be narrowed, and celebrities on the BBC payroll will be prevented from taking on lucrative side jobs. 

In fact, the only good bit of news comes for the BBC World Service, which The Sunday Times is predicting will receive heavier investment. 

The main man to take on the BBC will be John Whittingdale. The former Culture Secretary has been brought in as a minister within the DCMS with, The Sunday Times alleges, cutting the BBC down to size as his main role. The argument will be that if the BBC thinks it is invaluable, it should put its money where its mouth is and see if people will subscribe. 

The leaked intentions come as the Government is locked in a standoff with Radio 4, refusing to put up ministers for a grilling.

Interestingly, the newspaper report gives an insider's view that the Government doesn't care so much for a tough grilling on Radio 4, which it knows it doesn't need to carry on winning elections. Boris isn't reaching out to the Radio 4 audience here and so isn't too bothered what the BBC thinks of him and his Government. It's a sad fact, but it's almost certainly true.

Which brings us to the point -- that after veiled threats and talk of action, it looks like Number 10 is ok with letting it be known it is coming after the BBC and the licence fee with the outcome almost certainly pointing us toward a slimmed-down corporation with just a small handful of radio and tv stations and a curtailed online presence. 

It might takes years of wrangling, but the direction of travel is now clearly laid out. 

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