Former BBC presenter Nick Ross has predicted the licence fee is “doomed” and that an alternative model of funding for the corporation needs to be developed over the next decade.
The broadcaster – known for his years fronting ‘Crimewatch’ – said the next charter renewal in 2017 should be the last and suggested the BBC should explore subscriptions.
Addressing a seminar discussion for think-tank Civitas, he said: “The licence fee has just reached the end of its natural lifespan. It’s already 88 years old and she will be well into her 90s by the time of charter renewal.”
He said it was possible the popularity of the BBC might wane to such an extent the licence fee could become unsustainable.
“What I’m proposing is that at the next charter renewal, the BBC is given 10-year renewal and a good settlement but told ’that is likely to be it – it is now up to you, the management, to find your own salvation’.”
Ross said he was a fan of the BBC and wanted to see it saved, but added that problems with the fee included rich and poor paying the same and many households simply did not pay up.
“The licence fee is simply doomed, and it is doomed simply because the world has moved on. It is technology that will kill the licence fee, just as the radio licence fee became obsolete in 1971, so television is simply dissolving into other forms of technology.”
Ross went on: “The best quality is now driven by subscription.”
Subscription is “the way to go”, he said, because it is “fair and democratic, you pay for what you get”.
“Don’t let the state impose a solution, I want the management to find a solution. I suspect that we are going to have to find an entirely new management model because this will be fundamentally a commercial organisation.”