UKIP leader Nigel Farage, whose party believes the UK should leave Europe and clamp down on immigration amongst other policies, has called for the BBC to be “cut back to the bone.” The outspoken leader, who is vying to become a kingmaker in next month’s general election, was speaking at a public rally in Rochdale on the campaign trail when he went on the attack against the public broadcaster.
“”I would like to see the BBC cut back to the bone to be purely a public service broadcaster with an international reach, and I would have thought you could do that with a license fee that was about a third of what it currently is,” said Farage.
The BBC license fee is currently around $215 a year. Its level, and whether it should even exist, has become something of a political football. The BBC has been under pressure recently to find alternative ways to fund its operations. Earlier this year, a report from the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that the TV license is “becoming harder and harder to justify.” BBC chief Tony Hall has defended the need for the license fee to continue while also recognizing the need to adapt to a digital marketplace.
Farage caused headlines during a BBC televised debate when he insulted the audience after a number of those in attendance took issues with some of his views. “There is a total lack of comprehension amongst this panel and the audience, which is a remarkable audience even by the left-wing standards of the BBC,” said a rattled Farage, before being corrected by debate moderator- and veteran BBC presenter- David Dimbleby that the audience had been independently chosen by a polling firm.
Polls show the Conservative and Labour parties neck-and-neck in an increasingly tight election. With most indicators pointing to a hung parliament- when no one party has a clear majority- the influence of fringe groups like UKIP is set to increase.