Freezing the licence fee for six years is a good deal for the BBC’s commercial rivals, according to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The move means a real terms cut of 16 per cent for the Beeb, which Hunt described as “tough but fair” on his blog.
“Tough because the BBC, like everyone, is going to have to make demanding efficiency savings,” he said.
“But fair because it allows them to continue to make the great programmes that we all love and licence fee payers won’t have to pay any extra for the privilege. The assurances I have secured on magazines, local and online activities [that the BBC will not expand in these areas and pay £25m towards new local TV and online services] will also give some comfort to the BBC’s commercial rivals that the licence fee will not be used to blast them out of the water.”
He called the agreement, which was rushed through a year ahead of schedule, as “the fastest negotiation in the Corporation’s 83-year history”.
“If I looked tired yesterday it was because the talks went on right through Monday night. Thank goodness I had been shadowing my brief in opposition for three years and given serious thought as to what any settlement needed to contain.”