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BBC bosses to face grilling by MPs on cuts and licence fee changes

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee session will take place on March 12.

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The committee session will take place on March 12 (Ian West/PA)

The committee session will take place on March 12 (Ian West/PA)

The committee session will take place on March 12 (Ian West/PA)

Senior BBC executives have been called to Parliament to answer questions about proposed cuts at the corporation, as well as planned changes to the licence fee.

Outgoing director-general Lord Tony Hall and chairman Sir David Clementi will give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee.

The decision comes after a turbulent few months for the BBC during which it was announced that 450 jobs would be cut and Lord Hall said he would be standing down.

Committee chairman Julian Knight said: “The BBC has made headlines for the wrong reasons in recent months – axing hundreds of news posts, asking over-75s to pay up, and digging into budgets to settle equal pay claims.

“Unprecedented changes in how we watch and listen mean the broadcaster faces a fight for its future.

“We’re concerned about the BBC’s preparations to deal with these challenges, particularly when its director-general has decided to step down at such a critical time.

“The committee will be scrutinising the corporation’s planning as a priority to ensure that the interests of licence fee payers are at its heart and will be holding its senior leadership to account.”

A BBC spokesman said: “It’s routine for the BBC to appear before select committees and we were happy to accept this invitation.”

The 450 job losses at the BBC are part of a drive to make savings of £80 million, with cuts planned for Newsnight, Radio 5 Live and other news programmes.

TV Licence
Lord Tony Hall (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The corporation said it wanted to “reduce duplication” and review “the number of presenters we have and how they work”.

The BBC has also been criticised for planned changes to the TV licence fee system for over-75s who are currently entitled to get one for free.

From June, only low-income over-75 viewers who receive pension credits will be entitled to a free TV licence.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said the BBC should “cough up” and fund the free licences for all over-75s.

However, Lord Hall has argued that it is the Government which is withdrawing the benefit and not the BBC.

The committee session will take place on March 12.

PA