Downing Street's readout for the media of Tuesday ’ s cabinet meeting inevitably focused on Boris Johnson ’ s fightback; he told ministers 2022 would be a year of delivery on "the priorities of the British people".

Donald Trump would have been proud of Dorries's explosive tweet saying her settlement on the fee lasting until 2027 "will be the last".

Bizarrely, the culture secretary tried to end the debate about the BBC's future in the same breath as she started it.

It was back-to-front politics, another symptom of chaotic government as Johnson fights to remain prime minister.

The veteran TV presenter David Dimbleby has suggested the BBC licence fee could be linked to council tax to make it fairer as the government questions future funding of the broadcaster.

Dimbleby, who presented Question Time on the BBC for 25 years, said : "The licence fee is something that I absolutely believe in.

And the simple way of doing it would be to attach an element of the licence fee to the council tax band."

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries pledged that the licence fee freeze for two years, followed by a rise in line with inflation, would be the last such settlement the BBC would receive.

A number of alternatives to funding for the licence fee have been floated, including an opt-in subscription service similar to that used by streaming firms such as Netflix, the introduction of advertising, or a broadband levy.

The BBC has criticised the two-year freeze, arguing it will lead to "tougher choices" that will affect viewers.

Bosses at the corporation have called the move “ disappointing ” as Dorries even came under criticism from her own side while arguing it was necessary to tackle the rising cost of living.

labour has accused the cabinet minister of trying to distract from boris johnson's woes while waging a "vendetta" against the broadcaster.

Dimbleby also said the BBC must do more to keep in "lockstep" with public opinion, saying it has strayed “ a bit ”, on issues such as immigration.

"And there are many who can not afford, or do not wish, to pay for additional TV content or even a broadband service."

The BBC has suggested a levy on consumer broadband bills as one possible alternative to a licence based on viewing a screen.

That would prompt opposition from people complaining that they are being forced to pay for a BBC they don't watch.

How much and by what method can the public reasonably be asked to pay?

The BBC and its supporters took comfort from the clear retreat between Dorries's Sunday tweet that "this licence fee announcement will be the last" and her vaguer mutterings in the House of Commons on Monday about consulting on future alternatives, and the present funding being a “ dinosaur. ” Some hope this softening reflected a rethink after substantial backlash to the threat, but the reason is probably bleaker.

This is the end of the good news.

Emblematically, BBC One ’ s brilliant recent drama Four Lives was made by ITV Studios.

Such stories can ’ t be covered with 2 mins 45 secs each from left and right.

Part of the solution might be to break that chain.

Whether any new funding model will support Gary Lineker's £1.36m for introducing football, or the Radio 4 Today programme dispensing £1.3m between its presenters ( some also do some other shows ) is questionable.

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