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MU Reacts With Dismay at Announcement of BBC Licence Fee Freeze 

The two-year license fee freeze is likely to harm job opportunities for musicians as The BBC is the single biggest employer of MU members in the UK.

Published: 19 January 2022 | 4:03 PM Updated: 03 March 2022 | 12:57 PM
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The freezing of the licence fee will stifle new music opportunities. Image credit: Shutterstock.

On 17 January Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced that the TV licence fee has been frozen for two years, as the government moves to support families in the face of rising living costs.

The official Government statement confirms that the fee will remain at £159 until 2024, and then rise in line with inflation for the following four years. The plans for the new licence fee settlement cover a period of six years and will take effect from 1 April 2022 until 31 March 2028.

Speaking of the settlement, Dorries said:

"This is a fair settlement for the BBC and for licence fee payers. The BBC must support people at a time when their finances are strained, make savings and efficiencies, and use the billions in public funding it receives to deliver for viewers, listeners and users."

However the proposed savings could see job opportunities impacted for MU members and musicians alike. 

Our response 

MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge says:

"Although we realise how difficult the past two years have been for many people, very few professions have suffered as much as musicians and the real terms reduction in funding for the BBC will hit musicians once more.

The BBC is the single biggest employer of MU members in the UK and is in the unique position of supporting five full-time orchestras. The BBC orchestras alone employ more than 400 contract musicians and many hundreds more on a freelance basis. The BBC also employs and supports musicians working in all genres through its radio and television programming - virtually all MU members will interface with the BBC at one stage of their career.

No other broadcaster plays such a diverse range of music and the BBC is also the main commissioner of new music in the UK. The freezing of the licence fee will stifle new music opportunities.

Beyond music, the BBC is the envy of the world. It is essential that the BBC continues to be able to provide access to a wide range of culture that the market may not provide for and which may not be commercially attractive, but which is irreplaceable to the people who watch and listen to it.

Freezing the licence fee is a drop in the ocean in terms of tackling the cost of living crisis and will directly harm job opportunities. It might be better for the Government to focus on the real problem, which is spiralling home energy bills."

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