The BBC would be open to charging subscriptions for premium content, the new head of the BBC Trust has revealed for the first time.
Rona Fairhead, who took up her new role two weeks ago, said that subscriptions could be an “intelligent way” to generate extra money for the Corporation.
Asked whether “niche” and “premium” programmes could be offered on a subscription basis, Ms Fairhead said: “I think that would be an intelligent way to look forward in terms of the charter review.”
Earlier this year, the BBC rejected calls for a subscription model, which would see viewers pay for the services they use.
It argued the £145.50 licence fee was still the “most effective way” to fund its output, warning that subscriptions would increase the cost for those who chose to pay.
Ms Fairhead said the “core” funding for the BBC should still come from the licence fee, the charter review should look at “all sources of income that we could use and then decide.”
She told the Culture, Media and Sport select committee that the BBC must look at “other sources of funding… with a view of making sure we have the funding to make quality programmes and stay impartial but also give the best value for money.”
The BBC’s royal charter, which sets out the corporation’s scope and remit, and funding arrangement is up for renewal at the end of 2016.
How the BBC is funded will form a key part of these negotiations with the possibility of a subscription model replacing the traditional licence fee. If such changes were introduced it would be the biggest shake-up since the BBC was founded in 1922.
Some members of the Cabinet are understood to believe that the compulsory £145.50 annual charge for television ownership is outdated and does not represent the changes in how people watch television in the modern world.
Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, told the committee he had made “no decision” about the future of the licence fee and that the “charter review should rule nothing out and rule nothing in.”
He defended previous comments that the current annual licence fee was a lot of money to many families.
Angie Bray the Conservative MP and member of the Culture, Media and Sport welcomed Ms Fairfield’s support for the model. She told one newspaper that people would be happy to pay for “niche” programme as long as the BBC’s “absolute untouchable” content was still available for free (Free, £3.6 BILLION a year is free?).
Mrs Bray told the newspaper that channels like BBC three and BBC Four would be protected if they were offered on a subscription only basis “as long as people were willing to pay for them”. Subscriptions would also bring down the cost of the standard BBC licence fee that would only include the basic package, she said.
“I think, therefore, I can see a case to be made for letting the BBC reign supreme on the things that it does well like the news, Question time, Newsnight and equally they have some very good mainstream entertainment programmes.
“I can see a channel that provides everybody with what they consider the absolute untouchables as far as the BBC is concerned, and there would still be a BBC licence fee for that.”
The arrogance of this women is typical BBC, it’s all about what’s best for them, sod the public. Also it’s second attack on UKIP and it’s biased climate agenda shows it isn’t impartial