The government has confirmed that the cost of a colour TV license will rise by two per cent as of April 1st.
The increase, to be brought into effect by an order laid in the House of Commons today by Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw, is part of a five-year BBC funding settlement agreed in 2007.
As part of the deal, the BBC license fee was scheduled to rise at a rate of three per cent for the first two years - 2007 and 2008 - followed by a two per cent rise in the third, fourth and fifth years.
The two per cent increase for 2010 will raise the cost of a colour TV license from £142.50 to £145.50, whilst a black and white license will rise from £48 to £49.
Despite having been in the pipeline for years, the BBC's confirmation of the increase comes at a critical time. Earlier this month, the self-proclaimed "largest broadcasting organisation in the world" announced plans to slash its radio, television and online services as part of a strategic review billed as the biggest shake-up in the corporation's 88-year history.
With £600 million in cuts and the closure of two radio stations - 6 Music and the Asian Network - by the end of 2011, the annual rise in the BBC license fee is likely to be met with increased criticism in the run up to the general election.
Supporters of the licence fee have always maintained that it helps maintain a higher quality of BBC programming, but the rising cost has been put into sharp focus following a global economic downturn. In the latest twist in the BBC tale, Jeremy Hunt, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has suggested that BBC Three and BBC Four could face the axe under a Conservative government.
Speaking to The Independent, Hunt said he was unconvinced that such "expensive" services offer value for money.
BBC Three is estimated to cost £115 million a year to run, with a further £71 million being spent on BBC Four. Both digital channels receive around 11 million and 4 million weekly viewers, respectively.
"There may be good public service broadcasting reasons why this investment is sensible but I'd like to hear arguments beyond the simple one that everyone pays the licence fee," said Hunt when questioning the license fee spend.