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BBC 'should scrap licence fee''

The BBC should wind up its licence fee and become a voluntary subscription-based service, a report from think-tank the Adam Smith Institute has suggested.

The report - titled Global Player or Subsidy Junkie? Decision Time for the BBC - acknowledged the importance of the corporation as "the UK's strongest media asset".

But it said that scrapping the fee would better equip the BBC to operate as a major business on the world stage.

The document was compiled by David Graham, a former BBC producer who worked on Nationwide, The Money Programme and Panorama.

It said: "Continued commitment to subsidy via the licence fee will mean scaling back the BBC and diminishing its potential contribution."

The BBC has been undergoing a wide-ranging strategy review and driving down costs.

Last month, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested that the licence fee could be cut, telling the Daily Telegraph he could "absolutely" see viewers paying less than the current £145.50.

Mr Graham predicted that while "the need for reform goes beyond the BBC ... a serious debate on the BBC will start, in my view, in 2011 and 2012".

He argued that a voluntary BBC subscription would free the broadcaster from competitors' hostility.

Mr Graham said: "It would harness its huge reputation and high-calibre staff to new, ambitious objectives, and would encourage the BBC to lead the drive to create a bigger presence for itself and other UK players in global media."


From Belfast Telegraph