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Tories to freeze and slice Licence Fee to fund superfast broadband rollout

The Conservatives have promised that annual TV Licence price will remain at £145.50 a year – until the Charter renewal kicks off nine months from May. 

In the election manifesto, the Tories say that the a comprehensive review of the BBC Royal
Charter will be undertaken to ensure that it delivers a ‘value for money, world-class service’.  

The manifesto doesn’t guarantee that fees wouldn’t go up following the next Charter review. With the current charter due to expire on December 31, 2016 its possible that the freeze, pitched as a money saver, could be short-lived. 

Scrap BBC licence fee and replace it with TV tax for everyone, say MPsFollowing six years of the TV Licence being frozen at the current rate, the BBC has had to undergo a number of cost-saving measures, which includes bumping BBC Three off the airwaves and moving it online. 

It’s been hinted that BBC Four could suffer a similar fate and a frozen fee for the rest of 2015 at least could hasten this. 

What is more certain is that licence fee cash will also continue to be top sliced in order to continue rollout of superfast broadband across the UK. 

To date, £300 million of public cash raised from the TV Licence has been spent on the current government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) which aims to see 95 per cent of the British population able to order superfast broadband – defined by the UK Government as a connection delivering at least 25Mbps – by 2017. 

Further raids on the licence fee would see an extra £150 million sliced off the top, to be spent on making sure families and firms located in remote, hard to reach regions can get a superfast service too. 

Can 270,000 Family Guy fans Save BBC Three?Like Labour, the Conservatives are pledging universal access to broadband and improvements in mobile phone coverage. The Conservative manifesto is similarly shaky on what is meant by ‘broadband’.

The current aim of BDUK is to ensure that everyone has access to a basic service, delivering 2Mbps at all times of day – just enough bandwidth to stream BBC iPlayer. It’s unclear from the manifesto if this would continue to be the case following a Tory win, or if it would aim to bring superfast broadband to 100 per cent of properties. 

Likewise, the Labour manifesto mentions ‘high speed’ broadband, but doesn’t detail what this actually means.  

While ensuring that people in remote regions can get a faster service that’s actually capable of accessing BBC iPlayer is a good idea, it won’t be of much consolation to those families and firms who can’t access BBC Three in the interim – because the broadcast channel is dead and their current Internet service is too poor to stream anything at all. 

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