Future of TV Licence fee up for debate at Salford International Media Festival

Friday 24 October 2014

It is a decision that could change the face of the nation’s public broadcaster forever and affect more than 25 million households in the UK who each year pay £145.50 to watch television.

The TV Licence fee, which funds the BBC, is due to be set for the next 10 years in late 2016 as part of the Corporation’s Royal Charter renewal, and a panel of industry experts will debate the pros and cons of the status quo or fundamental changes such as a subscription-based model at next month’s Nations & Regions Media Conference, part of Salford International Media Festival.

In a multi-channel digital age, with many viewers watching television on computers, tablets and mobile phones, some influential broadcast and media industry figures and politicians believe the funding of the BBC through the TV Licence fee needs radical change.

Former BBC North West Political Editor Jim Hancock will chair the ‘How do you solve a problem like the Licence Fee’ session at the Conference, organised and hosted at MediaCityUK by the University of Salford.

Hancock will invite comment from an audience of industry professionals and panel experts Gillian Reynolds MBE, Daily Telegraph radio critic and broadcaster; Emmy award-winning television executive Tom Gutteridge; and Steve Morrison, one of the founders of leading independent production company all3media.

Questions up for discussion could include: Is the licence fee brilliant value for money, or simply a ‘poll tax’ for watching television? What would be the impact of any change in BBC funding to its service beyond TV broadcasting, such as radio and its huge online presence? And what risks could a future national Government face from a viewing public which many believe is generally happy with the BBC’s output?

Seamus Simpson, Nations & Regions Media Conference Content Director, said: “The nature and function of the Licence fee in broadcasting has been an ongoing debate for many decades. We are currently at a critical juncture in this debate and, in this not-to-be-missed session, our panel of experts will reflect the differing positions on what is a topic of utmost significance for the future of the media sector.”

The TV Licence fee debate, sponsored by BAFTA, will take place on Wednesday 19 November, the second day of the 21st Nations & Regions Media Conference, one of three events forming Salford International Media Festival.

Running from Monday 17-Friday 21 November, the Festival will provide a vibrant forum for media stakeholders to debate the current climate and play an influential role in shaping the future of the sector.

Building on the rich history of the Nations & Regions Media Conference, the Festival has widened to provide a platform for academic discourse through the Challenging Media Landscapes Conference and a two-day Next Generation programme of activity to support new media talent, enabling Salford students to gain an insiders’ look into the industry.

Tickets for the Salford International Media Festival are on sale at the Festival website - www.salfordinternationalmediafestival.com.

Follow Salford International Media Festival on Twitter @Salford_Media or #SIMF14.