The Sunday Express understands that a large-scale campaign will push for a referendum on whether to scrap the Licence Fee. Defund the BBC, set up in 2020 is in talks with senior politicians and major Conservative Party donors to launch a nationwide campaign for a referendum. Conservative MPs are also expected to push the case in Parliament using the 100th anniversary of the BBC’s original Charter as a platform to demand reform.
A source working with Defund the BBC, said: “The centenary of the BBC’s foundation offers us the perfect opportunity to ask hard questions of our national broadcaster. Let’s make it a year to remember and give the British public a vote.”
The source added: “In a free society it is good and just for the taxpayers, who pay the salaries of their news presenters and researchers, to have a say in how well the institution is run. The question is straightforward:
“Do you want to keep the BBC Licence Fee or get rid of the Licence Fee? Polls have shown that support for the BBC is waning massively now that there are so many alternatives such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“Few would agree the archaic establishment does not urgently need reform. Bloated expenses and salaries are signs of the BBC’s wasteful bureaucracy. Broadly unpopular wokeness saturates the BBC’s offerings, both online and on TV.
“The British public finally deserves some transparency and accountability as to how their hard-earned money is spent. We also deserve the option of choosing to watch independent news channels, without the financial penalty incurred for not paying the compulsory and outdated licence fee.”
The move comes over continued anger at a perceived “metropolitan bias” at the Corporation and a belief it is pushing a leftwing woke agenda through news, comedy, soap operas and drama programs at the expense of the taxpayer.
There are also concerns over the way the BBC dropped its pledge to continue the free licence fee for all over-75s and pursued non-payers aggressively.
Between 2015 and 2018 91 people, disproportionately women from low income families, were also jailed for non-payment.
Critics argue that the BBC has escaped public taxpayer scrutiny for too long. When it was set up almost one hundred years ago in October 1922, its directive was to “inform, educate, and entertain” the British public. Taxpayer money was given to the BBC and, in return, the nation’s broadcaster would provide a trustworthy and reliable news service.
The influential Common Sense Group with more than 50 Conservative MPs is shortly expected to publish a book of policy ideas including scrapping the licence fee and breaking up the BBC.
The BBC has warned that decriminalisation of the licence fee would cost the Corporation an estimated £1 billion over five years and abolition would cost it even more forcing it to seek alternative sources of income such as subscription or advertising.