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Plans to Decriminalise Non-Payment of TV License Fee Announced

The license fee as a method of funding the BBC dates back to 1923, when it was charged on the owners of radio sets. In light of recent government consultations however, George investigates the plans to scrap the prosecution of non-payers and the far-reaching consequences. 

In a speech to the Policy Exchange on ‘The Future of UK Media’ and broadcasting the newly ennobled Baroness and culture secretary Nicky Morgan outlined the government’s intention to decriminalise non-payment of the TV license fee.

the BBC has had to implement cost cutting measures of £80 million last year

The license fee is the primary source of funding for the BBC, 94% of which goes directly towards content and delivery of programming. The proposed measure will be another burden on the corporation which has in recent years had to cope with the costs of government off-loading services from branches of government to the corporation. That of the world service and the provision of the over 75’s with free licenses from the remit of the foreign office and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) respectively.

To cope the BBC has had to implement cost cutting measures of £80 million last year resulting in, amongst others, the loss of 500 jobs. Whilst reiterating the PM in calling the BBC a “cherished British institution”, the minister argued that the BBC had to diversify its funding to cope in the modern world.

Whilst detailed plans to go about this are yet to emerge it might be for the next general director of the corporation to implement after Lord Hall announced his intention to step down last year. Hall himself in the face of government plans for license fee that the BBC’s success lies in it “being paid for and owned by the British public”.

No. 10 favourites to take over from Lord Hall include disgraced former news of the world editor-in-chief Rebecca Brookes and Elisabeth Murdoch previous employee and daughter of Rupert Murdoch, proprietor of such media outlets as The Daily Mail and Fox News, respectively.

George Sullivan


Feature image from Iain Watson on Flickr. Image license found here.

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