In the U.K., the licence fee is currently £154.50 per annum. It is a mandatory tax that, if not paid, leads to threatening letters, debt collection visits and even prison. We do not believe this is fair.
The BBC’s television and radio output continues to become less popular as other services and forms of entertainment grow their audiences. The days of three channels have never seemed as distant as they do today. Subscription services dominate our viewing behaviour and the BBC should not continue as a public broadcaster dependent on £4bn in compulsory fee paying. Netflix, Sky, NowTV, Virgin - they all run on subscription and, crucially, they offer genuine choice to the consumer. There is no choice with the TV licence if you have a television.
We are asking the Government to consider the future of the TV licence system, and with that the BBC, too, carefully and sensibly. It is consistently criticised for its attempts at impartiality and several scandals have stained the institution immeasurably. The publishing of its salaries for its biggest stars is a recent example, which saw Chris Evans and Gary Lineker earn over £1.5m each in one year. The very recent announcement about the scrapping of free licences for over-75s, some of whom have only just been commemorated for their role in D-Day, has added to public disaffection with the mandatory charge system. We are told that this decision will affect nearly four million households. A culture of disappointment has developed between the broadcaster and its primary funder. Something needs to change.
The BBC can continue to exist but in order to retain public confident and appreciation it needs radical change. Commercialisation or a form of subscription service to reduce to financial burden of the licence fee are credible alternatives that we would ask to be considered.