Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman argued that the appointment of John Whittingdale as culture secretary could be bad news for the BBC in the CityAM debate:
John Whittingdale has described the licence fee as being “worse than a poll tax,” and wants to decriminalise non-payment. That is a good idea: 10 per cent of magistrate court cases are for licence fee non-payment. Every week that means 3,000 people are fined and one person is jailed. Women make up about 70 per cent of convictions and half of those jailed. The BBC was never meant to be the £5bn behemoth that it has grown into. If there is any case for a mandatory public broadcaster at all, it is for one that produces worthy content that the market would not provide otherwise. But most of its budget goes on things like Doctor Who and The Voice, which the private sector would produce if the Beeb wasn’t. The BBC needs to be cut down to size, and the new culture secretary might be the man to do it. Whittingdale is bad news for the BBC – and that’s good news for the rest of us.