The UK has said it will freeze the BBC’s licensing fee, while the opposition has claimed the move is meant to distract attention from the prime minister’s ongoing scandals.
Culture Minister Nadine Doris tweeted on Sunday that the current system, under which all TV owners must pay an annual license fee, will end after 2027. The government said it will freeze license fees until 2024.
“Gone are the days of threatening seniors with prison terms and knocking on doors,” Doris wrote.
Shadow Culture, Media and Sports Secretary Lucy Powell said Doris was the first to create a “distraction” by “finding someone else to blame for the disintegration of the prime minister’s leadership”.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s future comes into question after revelations about illegal parties held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The ‘Party Gateway’ scandal has so far seen six Tory MPs openly call for his resignation, and dozens of others are said to have done the same behind closed doors.
Some say Johnson’s team has issued several populist proposals to bolster support for the prime minister.
A number of celebrities have come together to defend the UK’s public broadcaster.
Actor Hugh Grant described the BBC, whose television, radio and electronic services are funded by licensing fees of £159 a year, “something to be envied”, accusing the government of wanting to destroy it.
Former England footballer and BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker described it as “the most precious national treasure”.
“It should never be a voice for those in government, whoever is in power,” he added.