The license fee freeze risks undermining the work of the BBC and could also “threaten public service broadcasting”, insisted the Scottish Culture Secretary.
Angus Robertson raised concerns about Nadine Dorries’ decision in a letter to his UK government counterpart, in which he warned that “ideological threats” to stable funding deals for the broadcaster could “risk destabilize this precious asset”.
With BBC bosses having already warned that the license fee freeze will leave them with a £285million shortfall by 2027-28, Mr Robertson said the move could have a ‘direct impact’ on the broadcaster’s output across the UK.
He added: “I am deeply concerned that this will have serious implications for the BBC’s investment in Scotland, particularly when the BBC has historically spent a lower proportion of license fees collected in Scotland in the country by compared to other countries.”
Scotland’s Culture Secretary raised the issue with Ms Dorries after confirming BBC license fees will remain at £159 for two years, until 2024, after which they will rise in line with inflation for the next four following years.
BBC Director General Tim Davie has previously called the announcement a “surprise”.
In the meantime, a number of alternative funding models have been launched, including an opt-in subscription service similar to that used by streaming giants such as Netflix, the introduction of advertising or a tax on top debit.
While Mr Robertson admitted that the current funding mechanism “may not be perfect”, he added that the license fee “is the best option at the moment” to secure the BBC’s future as a public service broadcaster.
In a letter outlining his “deep concern” over the freeze, the Scottish Culture Secretary criticized the Westminster government for its “apparent attempts to undermine the BBC”, arguing that these “threaten public service broadcasting in the Kingdom United and the separate and essential services the broadcasters provide to the public”.
He said that “the Scottish Government wholeheartedly supports public service broadcasting and the important role the BBC plays in British society”.
The Scottish Culture Secretary said: “The BBC already faces unprecedented competition and ideological threats to stable funding risk destabilizing this valuable asset and damaging the wider system.”
He added: “Funded public service broadcasting plays a vital role in our creative economy and we want to see further progress and more of that investment here in Scotland, not regression.”
A “strong state-funded BBC” is “vital to sustain investment in Scottish-produced content to support the production sector”, Mr Robertson insisted.
He told Ms Dorries: ‘Scottish ministers are expected to play a role in any review of the BBC’s charter and I ask you to ensure that you commit to meaningful consultation to ensure the views of the people of Scotland are heard. reflected.
“It is extremely important that the BBC continues to be properly funded to ensure the protection of essential public services and the maximum benefit from investment in high quality, original and authentic content for audiences in Scotland and across the Kingdom. -United.”