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Tory coalition with DUP and Ukip could spell the end of the BBC as we know it

By Jon Stone

Published 28/04/2015

BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House
BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House

A Conservative government supported by minor right-wing parties would be likely to have a hostile policy towards the BBC, according to statements made by the party’s potential coalition partners.

Both Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the eurosceptic party Ukip have made hostile statements about the continued existence of the BBC in its current form in recent days.

With both of the parties set to have as many as a dozen MPs between them and polls indicating that the Conservatives are unlikely to gain a majority, a right-wing coalition is a possibility after the election.

The DUP today said it would demand that a Royal Commission be set up to review the Corporation’s Royal Charter as part of coalition negotiations.

In an opinion piece published in the Guardian newspaper the party’s leader Nigel Dodds said he was angry that the SNP had been included in television leaders debates but not his party.

“My party believes that pro-union politicians from all parties must behave responsibly in the next parliament when it comes to addressing the challenge posed by the SNP,” he wrote.

“One key thing we need to do is ensure the BBC does not exert such a distorting influence on British politics in this way again.”

The Royal Charter governs the purpose and direction of the BBC and shapes what services it can provide and in what manner.

Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, said last week that he wanted the BBC “cut back to the bone” and turned into a public service broadcaster which no longer produced popular entertainment programming.

“I would like to see the BBC cut back to the bone to be purely a public service broadcaster with an international reach, and I would have thought you could do that with a licence fee that was about a third of what it currently is,” he told a public meeting in Rochester on Wednesday 22.

The DUP currently has eight seats in the House of Commons; polls of marginal constituencies suggest Ukip could be on course to win anywhere between one and seven representatives at Westminster.

This weekend a senior Conservative minister is reported to have told The Sun on Sunday newspaper: “Don’t worry, we’ll sort them out after the election,” referring to the BBC.

The Conservatives manifesto already includes a provision to freeze the licence fee, a real terms cut in the Corporation’s funding.

In the event of a broader coalition with the Liberal Democrats the Corporation also faces having its licence fee frozen, a policy the two parties agree on.

Source: Independent

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