Andrew Neil describes BBC licence fee as a 'Straitjacket'
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He claimed to have switched the broadcaster’s evening programme, BBC Newsnight, off after just ten minutes. Writing on Twitter, the journalist and broadcaster said: “Watched @BBCNewsnight for the first time in four years. Because of the import of today’s events. I can see why so few folks watch it these days.”
He added: “Switched off after 10 minutes.”
Mr Neil, who formerly worked as a BBC political presenter, has since been a vocal critic of the broadcaster.
In an interview with Amol Rajan on the BBC itself, Mr Neil accused the broadcaster of having left-wing bias, despite its pledge to remain impartial.
Mr Neil claimed that “90 percent of the BBC’s presenters were on the Remain side of the argument”.
He added: “For the BBC I would say it’s a moderate centre-left outlook.
“It’s a metropolitan outlook, with metropolitan values.”
He continued: “It’s not me saying it.
“The Director-General has said it.
“Andrew Marr has said it.
“The BBC was happiest when Tony Blair was Prime Minister because they have a Blairite view on life.”
More recently, Mr Neil argued that the licence fee should be scrapped.
Speaking before the House of Lords’ Communications and Digital Committee, the veteran broadcaster said: “The problem with the licence fee is that the licence fee is both a wonderful asset – not many businesses can count on £3.75bn of guaranteed income a year – but it’s also a straightjacket.
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“Because even £5bn is not enough to run a full television network with international visions these days – nowhere near enough.
“And yet because of the mechanism of the licence fee now it inhibits the BBC raising money from elsewhere.”
He added: “I think people just need to stand back and say: ‘Is a funding mechanism which has served the BBC well – and served the country well – is it appropriate for what will become the fourth decade of the 21st century?”.
However, Mr Neil also praised the broadcaster, describing its performance in the face of licence fee cuts as “remarkable”.
In January, Culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced a two-year licence fee freeze, meaning that it will not rise in line with inflation.
Ms Dorries also indicated she intended for the current licence fee settlement, expiring in 2027, to be the last.
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