Boris Johnson Shuts Out U.K. Broadcasters from Brexit Day Message as BBC Braces For Funding Battle

Boris JohnsonConservative Party rally on eve
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The BBC and other U.K. national broadcasters have been barred from recording Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit Day message.

Johnson will issue an “address to the nation” on Friday, Jan. 31, to mark Britain’s exit from the European Union at 11PM.

But Johnson intends to break with a long-standing tradition by filming the message internally, and then distributing the recording to news outlets and publishing the message on social media.

Previous prime ministers have used an established “pool” system where one broadcaster shoots the footage and shares it with other television networks.

According to the Press Association, the BBC said it would make its own judgment on the “news value” of the address before deciding whether to air Johnson’s message.

“There’s a long established process for recording statements by the Prime Minister at significant times where one broadcaster records it and shares the footage,” a BBC spokeswoman told PA.

“The BBC and the other broadcasters are well used to following this usual process, which respects our independence as broadcasters.

“If Number 10 wants to supply its own footage, we will judge it on its news value when deciding whether to broadcast it, as we would with any footage supplied to us by third parties.”

The dispute follows a reported boycott by the government of the BBC’s influential morning radio news program “Today” and ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” with no minister appearing on either since the election.

Johnson has been outspoken about changing up the funding model for the BBC since his election campaign, when he first threatened to decriminalize payment of the BBC license fee, which supports the bulk of its programming budget.

According to the Financial Times, the government is planning to take its first steps in abolishing the criminal sanctions currently in place for non-payment of the license fee next week.