The BBC has agreed to give up a planned 2% increase in March 2011 and the chance of a smaller rise in 2012. The licence fee is currently £142.50 and will now remain at that level until 2013.
The BBC Trust asked BBC executives, led by director general Mark Thompson, to find short-term savings in June "given the exceptional pressures the current economic climate is placing on licence fee payers".
BBC management warns that the freeze will mean taking £144m out of the budget and "will require some on-air changes". This will almost inevitably mean cuts in programming budgets.