Ed Miliband has promised to defend the BBC licence fee if Labour wins the General Election.
Speaking in an interview with the Radio Times, Miliband claimed that Labour would support the renewal of the licence fee, which is due to come under review in 2016, flying in the face of a recent Tory moves to have non-payment of the £145.50 fee decriminalised – or replaced with a compulsory household tax.
The House of Lords halted Conservative efforts to decriminalise non-payment, following a rally led by the BBC’s former chairman and Conservative peer, Lord Grade, and Mr Miliband has pledged his support in the upcoming fight back.
Related: Five reasons we need the Licence Fee and five reasons it has to goIf any changes to the current system are deemed necessary, they won’t be brought in until at least 2017, following the Lords’ involvement in recent events.
Despite vowing to put the weight of his party behind the BBC, the Labour leader stopped short of stating how much direct involvement he aimed to have in protecting the corporation.
“I am a supporter of the BBC and I think it should be renewed. I’m not going to get into the level, which will be a matter for negotiation and discussion,” he said.
“I think it’s incredibly important that we protect the BBC. It’s recognised around the world and is a benchmark for standards in Britain.”
While happy to declare his support for the corporation as an institution, Mr Miliband was less supportive when asked to chime in on whether the Beeb should spend more on programs and less on salaries for its executives.
“There needs to be a balance. And the BBC needs to take seriously the issue of management salaries: all organisations should.
“Obviously, people have their frustrations about the BBC, but that doesn’t take away from its importance.”