Not paying a TV licence could soon be decriminalised

Not paying a TV licence could soon be decriminalised

The BBC was made responsible for administration of the licence fee as a result of the Broadcasting Act 1990, and the broadcaster now sub-contracts out the work. This sets out the BBC's funding and objective.

Whilst Morgan guaranteed the licence fee's short-term existence, she said it was time to look at new ways of subsidising public service broadcasting.

Money raised from the licence fee pays for BBC shows and services - including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps.

The remaining 25% (or £1.2bn) came from commercial and other activities (such as grants, royalties and rental income), according to the House of Commons Library.

And what is the overall impact on licence fee collection?

The move towards allowing flexible payments has been criticised by Age UK's charity director Caroline Abrahams, who said that the new payment scheme will not necessarily help those who find it hard to afford a licence.

In 2018, more than 121,000 people were convicted of evading the charge, and Baroness Morgan believes it seems heavy-handed. The average fine was £176, but the maximum penalty is £1,000, plus legal costs and/or compensation. It also follows the controversy a year ago over the decision to scrap free licences for some over-75s. About 7% of people who need a licence do not have one.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative administration - which is increasingly at odds with the country's news media - said it would hold a "public consultation" on whether to decriminalise non-payment of the annual levy that funds the BBC.

"As we move into an increasingly digital age, with more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, the time has come to think carefully about how we make sure the TV license fee remains relevant in this changing media landscape", Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said.

It is not just the government that has questioned the licence fee.

Age UK director Caroline Abraham said the rise "may not sound much but will be yet another blow to the hundreds of thousands who will struggle to afford a TV licence from June".

Last month the outgoing director-general of the BBC Lord Tony Hall defended the licence fee model, saying that "because we are funded by everyone, we must offer something outstanding for everyone".

The review would consider whether non-payment of the Licence Fee should be classed as a civil offence, such as the non-payment of a parking fine. This is known as TV licence evasion. Payment is mandatory even if you watch live programming on a computer, phone, or other device and even if you watch live television from other providers but do not watch BBC programming at all.

The Government will seek the public's views on whether evasion of the TV licence should be decriminalised.

There are different rules for people like students away at university, tenants and lodgers, blind people and businesses.

This resulted in the announcement by the BBC that from June this year, the benefit of a free licence fee will be restricted to over-75s who claim pension credit, with the BBC saying it can not afford to take on the financial burden from the government.

The corporation will fund a free licence for any household where someone aged over 75 receives pension credit. It reaches the most people.

"Although the poorest older people would supposedly continue to be entitled to a free TV licence under the BBC's proposed scheme, we know that some two in five of all those eligible don't claim".

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