January 14, 2021 |

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BBC’s incoming chair Richard Sharp has ‘open mind’ on licence fee funding

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Incoming BBC chair Richard Sharp says he has an “open mind” about the way the UK public broadcaster is funded, but described the current licence fee model as the “least worst” method at present.

Former Goldman Sachs banker Sharp, who is set to replace incumbent David Clementi in February, told the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee that that it “may be worth reassessing” the current system.

Richard Sharp

The BBC has faced ongoing questions around the future of its licence fee, with some mooting a potential ‘SVOD model’.

However, this has been widely dismissed by many in the UK industry and Sharp pointed to the household tax in operation in Germany as one potential solution to the current system.

The BBC is, at present, funded by a £157.50 ($214) annual licence fee, which will remain until 2027 when the BBC’s Royal Charter that governs its operations ends.

“When we next get the chance to review the structure of this, then it may be worth reassessing,” Sharp said, adding that “at 43p a day, the BBC represents terrific value.”

The UK government is currently exploring whether non-payment of the licence fee should remain a criminal offence, but Sharp said that he was “not in favour” of decriminalisation.

Sharp said he is also planning to give his £160,000 salary as BBC chairman to charity.

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