Greg Dyke: 'Ditch BBC license fee'

Move aimed at saving over $164 mil a year

LONDON -- Former BBC director general Greg Dyke is expected to tell a parliamentary review to scrap the pubcaster's annual £3.6 billion ($5.9 billion) license fee, and instead fund the broadcaster from general taxation, according to reports Monday.

The move is aimed at saving over £100 million ($164 million) a year, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper, which says Dyke will argue that the cash should instead be used to help commercial broadcasters fund such public service content as local news and religious programming, which they currently cannot afford to produce.

Dyke, who could not be reached for comment, is heading up a review for the opposition Conservative party leader David Cameron on how to make the U.K.'s broadcasting and communications sectors more growth-oriented and competitive. The review, which is expected to report next month, also numbers Shine Group founder Elisabeth Murdoch and Universal Music head Lucian Grainge among the panelists.

The license fee is currently paid directly to the BBC by individual households, and the collection process cost the pubcaster over £120 million ($197 million) to oversee last year.

By shifting the collection responsibilities to the Treasury, the process would become less costly. But the recommendation is likely to be fought by the BBC, which believes that the pubcaster's independence could be compromised if its funding came directly from government.
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