NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has claimed that scrapping the BBC’s licence fee would be disastrous for British broadcasting, in a speech at the Trades Union Congress conference.
Pledging the union’s full support for the retention of the licence, Dear called on the TUC’s general council to “campaign vigorously for the continuance of the BBC licence fee as the primary funder for the BBC”.
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“Congress places on record its total commitment to the continuance of the BBC licence fee and recognises that its abolition would be a complete disaster for television broadcasting within the United Kingdom,” he said at the conference in Brighton last week.
“Congress recognises the important part the BBC plays in British broadcasting, not only in the programmes it shows, but also as part of a whole infrastructure of broadcasting.”
He added that the BBC is “by far” the biggest employer and principal provider of training within all areas of the industry.
“At a time when all commercial terrestrial broadcasters are suffering severe financial difficulty due to the world economic downturn and significant reductions in advertising revenue, it is pure folly to put a question mark against the only stability that exists in British broadcasting.
“Broadcasting in the UK employs – directly and indirectly – tens of thousands of workers and sustains many communities in far-flung places, all of whom could suffer if the stability that the licence fee provides is removed.”
The NUJ also called for the Government to renew the BBC Charter on the basis of the licence fee.
“This should be accompanied by insistence that commitment to public service broadcasting is the only justification for the BBC’s privileged status; and that this commitment should be demonstrated by reform of the governing body and devolution of commissioning powers to creative professionals,” said Dear.
By Wale Azeez