The U.K. government has frozen the cost of the TV license fee that funds the BBC for six years and made changes to the pubcaster’s responsibilities that equate to a 16% cut in coin in real terms.
The annual fee, paid by every household with a TV, will be fixed at its present £145.50 ($228), giving the BBC $5.65 billion a year.
The BBC must also pay for the BBC World Service ($427 million a year); newsgathering outfit BBC Monitoring ($39 million a year); and Welsh-language web S4C ($157 million a year) from 2015. All were previously paid for by the government.
The Guardian paper reported late Tuesday that the pubcaster will also provide $236 million a year to rollout broadband to rural areas from 2013 and $39 million a year for local TV and online content. It would also make a one-off investment of $39.3 million in local TV and online services and will pay for the national rollout of digital radio.
All these undertakings will total $534 million by 2014-15.
A formal announcement of the changes to BBC funding will be made today when pols reveal plans to cut the U.K.’s $135 billion deficit.
The BBC had feared that a more severe measure was in the works. The government was mulling transferring the $874 million annual cost of free TV licenses for senior citizens, now state funded, to the pubcaster. This would have resulted in a 26% cut to the BBC’s budget.