Thursday 22 March 2018

MPs stirred up over fate of Bake Off as Labour warns over BBC funding cuts

Matt Hancock said he was a fan of The Great British Bake Off
Matt Hancock said he was a fan of The Great British Bake Off

The row over the BBC losing The Great British Bake Off has reached Parliament with Labour warning that funding cuts risked depriving the Corporation of their much-loved shows.

Culture minister Matt Hancock revealed he is an "enormous fan" of the programme and stressed that it would remain on air at Channel 4.

But Labour shadow culture minister Chi Onwurah said protecting the BBC "is crucial" and warned that plans to make the BBC pay for licence fees for over 75s could cause problems.

Speaking in the Commons during a discussion on the Digital Economy Bill, she said: "The Bill makes policy for funding TV licences for the over 75s the responsibility of the BBC.

"The NUJ (National Union of Journalists) estimates it will cost the BBC £1.3 billion over five years then £750 million each year - that represents a 20% cut in licence fee income.

"It could pay seven times over for our 30 local BBC radio stations or fund Radio 4 eight times. It could pay for 30 British Bake Offs.

"And ministers would do well to consider before depriving the British public of their favourite shows."

Intervening in the discussion, Mr Hancock said: "On the crucial issue of The Great British Bake Off, which I am an enormous fan of, I just hope she will correct what she just said and acknowledge that the Bake Off, after today's announcement, will remain on free to air terrestrial TV on Channel 4."

But Ms Onwurah said it is clear the BBC lost the popular show because "of funding".

Press Association

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