CBeebies may vanish if TV licence fee is dropped

Current quality and quantity of children’s programming will no longer be viable under a proposed subscription model, warns BBC chairman

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 12.02.2020 | Business

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A shakeup in the TV licence fee could spell the end for CBeebies, according to BBC chairman Sir David Clementi.

Suggestions that the £150-plus annual fee could change to a Netflix-style subscription model, he says, would mean children’s content would be one of the first things to be impacted.

CBeebies, which broadcasts and funds some of the leading shows for pre-schoolers in the UK – not to mention the associated licensed toy lines and consumer products – and the BBC’s older-skewed children’s programming blocks would be lucky to survive in their current state under proposed funding models.

Sir David says that a subscription model would not be able to support the quality or quantity of children’s programming and “it would be very unlikely to continue the level of properly curated programmes for children”.

Discussions have already begun as to whether or not to continue charging the TV licensing fee when the BBC’s current agreement with the government comes to and end in 2027. It is also reviewing whether or not to remove the criminal charges associated with non-payment. 

Experts have argued that if one of the main ways to encourage the public to continue pay for the licence is to threaten them with criminal punitive measures, it may no longer be the best model to settle on in the long term.

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