Has Cameron declared war on the BBC?

Future in doubt for world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation

The future of the BBC is hanging in the balance, as David Cameron has appointed John Whittingdale – a vehement critic of the BBC – as the government’s new culture secretary.

The move highlights Cameron’s desire to fundamentally overhaul the BBC and the £145-a-year licence fee.

The Telegraph reports that senior Tories were “furious at the BBC’s coverage” and said the corporation was guilty of “an unforgivable pro-Labour bias”.

With a European referendum now expected to go ahead in 2017, euro-sceptic Tories are concerned the BBC may exhibit a pro-European stance.

With Whittingdale in charge, major reforms are expected to be demanded imminently. In the past, Whittingdale described the licence fee as being “worse than a poll tax” and said it was “draconian”.

With the BBC’s Royal Charter due for renewal next year, the future of the organisation as it currently operates is decidedly uncertain.

The BBC is the world’s oldest national broadcaster, founded in 1922, and is the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees.

The extensive television, radio and online services it provides are mostly funded by the TV licence fee, which all television owners watching live TV are legally required to have, but as more commercial television channels have become available, critics and competitors argue that the fee and the structure of the organisation needs to be overhauled.

Earlier this year the House of Lords blocked a move by the coalition government to decriminalise the non-payment of the licence fee.

The new Conservative government is expected to push the legislation through parliament again.

A BBC spokesman said: “We’re looking forward to working with the new Secretary of State. It was a highly charged election and it’s nothing new for all sides to feel strongly about coverage, but we reported on it impartially and in depth as viewers and listeners expect.”

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