The BBC today unveiled its case for a new licence fee settlement to ensure that it continues to deliver value to licence payers as we move towards a fully digital Britain.
Its vision, endorsed by the Government's Green Paper earlier this year, is for high quality original content and services that will be universally available to everyone, irrespective of age or income.
With digital switchover, all licence payers will be able to access all BBC output, wherever they live in the country, thanks to the commitment to build a universal digital infrastructure for TV and radio.
Excellent content and services will be received on normal television and radio sets, but also on mobile devices and via broadband, with all public service content available for free for up to seven days after first transmission.
The BBC will also be opening up its archive, built over many years from the public's licence fee payments, and will invest in High Definition TV to ensure it is available to all and not confined to subscription services.
New technology will also allow the BBC to deliver state-of-the-art local television services and radio stations, as well as investing in production and a presence around the UK, representing the country more effectively than in the past.
Today's announcement puts a cost on the vision over seven years and shows how the BBC will meet more than 70 per cent of those costs itself.
It is the first time the BBC has made its case for a new licence fee settlement so openly and it follows public consultation and scrutiny by the BBC Governors and their independent advisors, as well as public response to the Government's Green Paper proposals.
The BBC proposes a licence fee increase from April 2007 based on RPI plus 2.3 per cent a year. In today's prices, this means £150.50 a year per household by 2013, compared to the current £126.50*.
That amounts to an average annual £3.14 increase per household, excluding RPI, from the start of the next Charter, while the licence fee is still declining steadily as a proportion of disposable income.
It does not include the costs of targeted help for special groups when the analogue signal is switched off.
The funding decision will be taken by the Government next year as part of the process around the BBC's new Royal Charter starting in 2007.
This will ultimately determine how the BBC can fulfil its public purposes, meet audience expectations and lead the next phase of the digital revolution.
The additional spend required to meet the vision outlined in the Green Paper will total £5.5 billion over the seven-year period to 2013/14.
However, the BBC will meet more than 70 per cent of this itself, not from additional licence fee funds.
Self-help measures already underway at the BBC, including job losses, rationalising processes and commercial disposals and dividends, will contribute £3.9 billion, leaving a funding gap of £1.6 billion which could be closed by an RPI +1.8% settlement.
However, to meet additional industry costs related to Switchover, such as the marketing costs of DigitalUK (SwitchCo) and spectrum tax, the total increase needed is a further RPI +0.5%, taking the total to RPI +2.3%.
MORI research conducted in March this year assessed audiences' appetite for the plans. Over 80 per cent said it was important for the BBC to build out digital.
Earlier research on the audience's willingness to pay showed that 81% believe the licence fee represents good value for money with over 40% being prepared to pay twice the current licence fee or more.
Launching the proposal, the BBC's Director-General Mark Thompson said: "Our audiences, rightly, have very high expectations of the BBC. They themselves are driving incredible change by the way they want to access our programmes and services.
"The BBC needs to transform itself to ensure we are providing the very best content, accessible to and valued by everyone across Britain, and the licence fee will help us achieve our vision to be the best creative digital broadcaster and content provider for audiences in the world."
BBC Chairman Michael Grade said: "Our document Building Public Value outlined the BBC's vision for serving the public in the digital age.
"The Government's subsequent Green Paper endorsed and refined that vision after consultation with the public. This bid has been thoroughly and independently scrutinised by the Governors. We commend it to Government as an efficient business plan designed to meet licence payers' expectations at the lowest cost."
*The predicted licence fee at the end of the current Charter is £128.50 in today's prices based on the current LF settlement.
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