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Tories would freeze BBC licence fee

Tories would freeze BBC licence fee

By staff

A Conservative government would freeze the BBC licence fee for one year, David Cameron has announced.

The Tory leader argued the government’s planned licence fee increases had been made in 2007 and that “the world has changed since then”.

He suggested a failure to do prevent the increase would see the BBC gaining greater prominence in the media sector as advertising revenues for its competitors fall.

“The BBC is one of our most important national institutions,” he said at his monthly press conference.

“I think [under present licence fee plans] there’s a danger. the system will become rather skewed.”

But the Liberal Democrats accused the Tories of living in “cloud cukoo land”.

“It’s a sad reflection of the Tory party that the best it has to offer taxpayers in the economic downturn is £3 off their licence fee,” said the party’s culture spokesman, Don Foster.

“The Conservatives are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think they can slash millions from the BBC’s budget without it seriously damaging programming and services.”

Mr Cameron made clear the announcement was a one-off freeze and admitted the proposal was a “we think the government should do this now” policy. He said he would not necessarily go through with the freeze if, in a year’s time, he won a general election.

The sudden announcement prompted some sarcasm in the room, with Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, beginning his question with: “Cut price, value-for-money question from the BBC, Mr Cameron.”

The Tory leader’s announcement came as part of a package to fix Britain’s ‘broken economy’.

“The country now has a very clear choice between a Conservative party that understands just how bad our economy is. and a Labour prime minister who is tied [to the past] he cannot escape it,” Mr Cameron added.

“Whoever wins the next election, the government will need to make a really clean break with the past,” he added.

The Tory leader said the general election was more likely to occur in 2010 than this year. Gordon Brown must go to the polls by June 2010.