Cat Lewis: PM's 'obsession' with BBC could 'destroy' Northern businesses

Simon Austin's picture
Cat Lewis

Cat Lewis, CEO of Nine Lives Media, has accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “student politics” and said she would have to make 35 staff in Manchester redundant if he presses ahead with reported plans to scrap the licence fee.

Yesterday the Sunday Times reported that a blueprint was being drawn up by the Government to scrap the licence fee and replace it with a subscription model. According to the report, there were plans to force the BBC to sell off the vast majority of its 61 radio stations, reduce the number of national television channels and scale back its website.

Senior aides to the PM insisted they were “not bluffing” about changing the BBC’s funding model and “pruning” its reach.

Lewis, who is also the chair of the Royal Television Society in the North West and executive producer of Songs of Praise, tweeted: “Hey Boris Johnson. I create jobs in the North - just the kind of person you need right now - but if you axe the licence fee I will have to make 35 staff in Manchester redundant. 

Embedded rich media on Twitter

“I thought you were promising to create jobs in the North not destroy them. Drop your student politics.”

She added: “Isn’t it tragic that Boris Johnson - who has never created a job or a business in his life - is making plans to destroy Northern businesses because of his silly student days obsession with the BBC.”

Ministers are already consulting on plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee from 2022 and have suggested it could be scrapped by 2027, when the BBC’s charter is set for renewal.

According to the Sunday Times, there is also a proposal to ban outside earnings for BBC staff. This comes after Kamal Ahmed, the BBC’s editorial director of news, who earns £205,000 a year, was forced to repay £12,000 from a speech to an investment conference

The Sunday Times revealed that Ahmed had given two other speeches last year for which he was also paid.