The rollout of superfast broadband across the country will be part-funded by money from the BBC licence fee, according to reports.
The decision to take the funding from the broadcaster would come as part a move by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to replace Labour’s plans for a 50 pence a month broadband tax. That tax would have been taken as part of people’s phone bills.
Don Foster, a former Liberal Democrat spokesperson, told a media industry conference in London that the proposals would soon become policy, it was reported in the Independent newspaper. However, Foster does not have a ministerial role in the coalition, and the Treasury was not able to immediately confirm the news.
At the event, Foster reportedly added that “the BBC is going to have to cough up for broadband rollout”. It is the first time that money from the licence fee has been used to fund anything other than the CIO 100 ranked BBC, the newspaper said.
The government is expected to appoint a broadband minister within days, with culture minister Ed Vaizey rumoured to be taking the role.
The broadband rollout will also be funded by telecoms firms. Last week, BT said it would invest a total of £2.5 billion to roll out fibre optic connections to two thirds of the UK by 2015.