DAVID CAMERON today called for a freeze in the BBC licence fee in a move that signalled painful Whitehall cost-cutting by a future Tory government.
The Conservative leader said a two per cent rise in the Pounds 139.50 annual fee should be cancelled.
It is due to rise by Pounds 3 in April raising an extra Pounds 68 million for the BBC, which has a budget of Pounds 3.4 billion.
He said the BBC and all taxpayer-funded institutions had to show they could "live within their means" by cutting waste.
Mr Cameron's comments had a wider meaning, preparing the public for spending cuts under the Tories to reduce the deficit in the public finances.
"Whoever wins the next general election, the next government of this country will need to make a really clean break with the past and set about fixing our economy," he told a news conference.
"I am absolutely determined to do that.
"I don't want to win the next election on some sort of false prospectus that doesn't recognise how difficult things will be.
"I want to use the time between now and then to take people with us for the difficult decisions that will have to be taken." The BBC appeared to be a totemic first step towards making the public services leaner.