British households must pay an annual license fee for free TV, with the Department for Work and Pensions picking up the tab for viewers over age 75. But last week the government declared that the BBC would soon be responsible for those fees.
How much do you ask? By 2020, about $1.15 billion.
That's a huge chunk of money.
During the 2013-2014 season, the BBC's income was $7.8 billion. These fees would be a huge portion of the company's profits- which means less funding for projects and programming. For an institution that is already struggling ("the broadcaster recently announced more than 1,000 job cuts and has taken on the $380 million costs for its World Service international radio network." via), fees like this could be crippling.
The BBC has not yet announced its budgetary plan to compensate for this sudden extra cost, but it's likely that they will continue to focus on dramas and original series, and cut back on things like sports. However, prominent voices like Daniel Craig, J. K. Rowling, and Judi Dench have already criticized this latest move by their government. They all signed an open letter stating that "diminished BBC would mean a diminished Britain."
I'm inclined to agree.
The BBC isn't all Doctor Who and Downton Abbey. They're a reliable source of international news, and it's been a cultural institution for decades. People have come to rely on the BBC for information and ideas. Hopefully the British people willing to fight for it.