Broadcasting minister defends licence fee increase demands

New broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward hit back at growing criticism of the BBC’s demands for an increased licence fee, claiming the corporation is a “benchmark for the greatest broadcasting in the world”.

Responding to questions put to the Department of Media, Culture and Sport in the House of Commons this week, Woodward responded to comments made about the corporation in recent weeks by the Conservatives.

Referring to a speech made by David Cameron last month at the Newspaper Society, Woodward said: “When [he] made that speech, he caricatured the BBC and claimed that it squashed all sorts of business.

“The BBC has been a source of, and a benchmark for, the greatest broadcasting anywhere in the world.” Conservative MP Andrew Robathan questioned whether, in today’s digital

age in which people can receive television pictures on mobile phones, a compulsory tax on television ownership was the right way to deliver high-quality public service broadcasting.

Woodward responded: “We are determined to get the review of the licence fee right to ensure that people in this country will have the finest broadcasting and the best public service broadcasting.

"We will not allow any kind of politics to interfere with that."

In recent weeks there has been growing opposition to the BBC’s request to increase the licence fee by 2.3 per cent above the rate of inflation.

Woodward said: "The majority of people are extremely satisfied with the services that the BBC produces. We have concluded that the right way to proceed for the foreseeable future is through the licence fee."

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