130,000 people sign petition demanding Boris Johnson 'stops attacking BBC'

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Boris Johnson on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in December 2018. (Jeff Overs/BBC/handout via Reuters)

More than 130,000 people have signed a petition demanding Boris Johnson “stops attacking the BBC”.

The prime minister was accused of adopting “Donald Trump’s playbook” amid the government’s ongoing war with the corporation.

As of 5.30pm on Monday, 131,000 people had signed the “Save Our BBC” petition, just one day after it launched.

Johnson said during the election campaign that he was considering scrapping the £154.50 licence fee that makes up 75% of the BBC’s budget.

Read more: Why don't people trust the BBC as much any more?

The government, unhappy at the BBC’s coverage of the Tories during the campaign, promptly banned ministers appearing on flagship shows like Today and Newsnight.

Earlier this month, then-culture secretary Nicky Morgan also announced a government “consultation” into decriminalising non-payment of the fee.

Under pressure: BBC (PA)

The petition blurb reads: “The government have declared war on our BBC. It's a thinly veiled attempt to clamp down on being held to account. They've pledged to scrap the licence fee and cut dozens of TV & radio stations, they want to ‘prune’ its reach into people's homes.

“Our BBC is a world-leading public service. The way that it is funded means that it's independent of government and corporate pressure. At a time when fake news can spread like wildfire and when so much is at stake, this is a dangerous attack on democracy.

Read more: TV licence fee evasion could be decriminalised, says government

“We need to protect the BBC from this political attack. The Prime Minister has already tried to ban journalists he doesn't like from No.10 briefings, now he and his close advisers are going after our public broadcasters. This is a move straight out of Donald Trump's playbook.

Boris Johnson and his political adviser Dominic Cummings. (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

“Already MPs from all parties are up in arms about this attack, but to stop it, it's going to take a huge amount of public pressure.”

As Yahoo News UK reported earlier this month, the BBC is fighting for its very survival. It can only fall back on the licence fee until December 2027, when the current Royal Charter expires.

However, it is also facing internal strife, with 450 job losses announced last month as part of cost-saving measures.

Its output is also being questioned like never before.

A YouGov survey commissioned during the election campaign found that just 44% of Britons trust the BBC to tell the truth, while the corporation is also struggling to be relevant for a young audience in the digital streaming age.

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