The Government are in the process of determining the level of the licence fee from April this year. We need to deliver value for money for the licence fee payer while ensuring that the BBC can continue to provide high-quality services. We have been having constructive discussions with the BBC, and I believe we are close to reaching an agreement, but I cannot comment further while those negotiations are ongoing. An announcement will be made in Parliament in due course.
The Minister will know that there is growing support for scrapping the licence fee or axing the TV tax, not least in Redcar and Cleveland, where the Bilsdale mast fire left people without TV reception, yet most were not given any sort of refund. Does the Minister agree that this is not an acceptable situation and that if the BBC were a satellite, broadband or phone provider, a refund for time without service and, in some cases, even further compensation would have been expected? Given that the BBC is using my constituents’ licence fees to pay celebs hundreds of thousands of pounds—
I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the plight of his constituents after the mast fire in Bilsdale. I have been working very closely with Arqiva to try to restore those services urgently, and I believe 98% of households have now had their Freeview restored, but I believe the BBC has also been issuing refunds. It has got to something like 11,000 refunds now; if my hon. Friend wishes to take this issue up with the BBC, I recommend that he do so.