Ministers are weighing up freezing the BBC licence fee at £159 for up to two years as the cost of living soars.
With households facing increasing energy, fuel and food prices, ministers and the BBC are in talks over freezing the fee, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Insiders told the newspaper that talks between the BBC and government on the cost of the fee from 2022 until at least 20227 will wrap up later this month.
Three insiders said a freeze of one year or even two was the most likely outcome, although the government has said no decision has been taken yet.
Now not the time
One source told the newspaper: “ Now is not the time to be whacking up the amount households have to pay.”
The freeze would place a pressure on the BBC’s finance and force it to take real-term funding cuts. The fee takes in more than £3bn a year but inflation is forecast to rocket up to 4.4 per cent next year.
After an initial freeze, the fee is anticipated to be allowed to rise in line with CPI for four to five years.
Justice secretary Dominic Raab has previously indicated support for a legal amnesty for people who fail to pay the fee, to clear a massive backlog of court cases.
Backlog of cases
Speaking at a Conservative Party conference fringe event, Raab said clemency for those caught not paying for the service was “an attractive idea.”
The minister said it could take between six to 12 months to reduce the backlog of court cases to pre-Covid levels.
Separately, the BBC declared it would raise standards with a 10-point plan focusing on regular reviews of content, more transparency and a fresh whistleblowing policy.
The Serota Review includes plans for “thematic reviews” of content looking at key areas of public debate and making the corporation’s editorial guidelines “more prominent and easy to use” for all staff.