TV Licence to be ‘reconsidered’ as Britons call for referendum on future of payment

TV licence: Tory MP and Mike Graham call for inquiry

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TV licence payments have garnered controversy in recent years as some Britons resist the idea of the payment. The current fee stands at £159 per year, and has to be paid by all Britons wishing to watch live television, whether this is through the BBC or not. But many were dismayed when last year it was announced the majority of over 75s would have to pay for the licence they previously gained for free.

Now, only those over 75 who are on Pension Credit are permitted to gain a free licence, while others must meet the payment.

The TV Licence has continued to split opinion, with some stating it is a necessity while others rejecting it altogether.

A petition submitted via the official Parliament website brought this matter to the fore recently, calling for action on the issue.

It read: “The TV Licence has been a cause of much concern to the general public over a long period of time, with many petitions and debates taking place.

“The BBC say they are answerable to the general public, yet the public get very little say into their funding. It’s now time to let the public have their say.

“The Government should give the general public a binding referendum on the future of the TV Licence before the next Royal Charter.

“The question should be how the BBC is funded, whether it will remain the same, or change to a subscription service and be able to have advertising.

“The BBC would get its funds from subscribers and by showing adverts this will also decriminalise the licence as there will be no need for enforcement.”

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To progress the matter further, the petition needed to garner at least 10,000 signatures to trigger a Government response.

To date, the petition has 13,375 signatures, and the Government responded to the matte this week.

It appeared to give a glimmer of hope for the requests of the petition, stating the matter would be “reconsidered” in the future.

The reply read: “The Government has committed to maintain the licence fee funding model for the duration of this Charter period, until 2027.

“The licence fee model will be reconsidered ahead of the next Charter Review.

“We have been clear ahead of the next Charter we will undertake a detailed look at the Licence Fee model itself, and introduce any necessary reforms.

“In addition, the BBC has committed to consider and explore whether elements of subscription have a role to play alongside the core licence fee funding model, as it aims to develop and test the scope for additional sources of commercial review.”

The level of the licence fee from 2022 onwards is also set to be determined and will be announced in due course. 

With regards to the decriminalisation of the TV Licence, the Government has said this is a matter which is also under review.

It published a response earlier in 2021 which  addressed the matter of TV Licence evasion, and examined the stress and anxiety many cited the criminal sanction as causing. 

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The Government stated it recognised the matter could cause issues for vulnerable and older people in society, and therefore is looking into the matter further.

It has said it is undertaking more work to understand the “impact of alternative enforcement schemes”. 

It may, however, not be over in terms of the progress of the official petition on the TV Licence.

At 100,000 signatures, any petition published on the website is considered for debate in Parliament.

If successful in reaching this milestone it could mean the matter is discussed in further depth by politicians. 

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