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Sunday, 16 November 2014

It's Time to Axe the BBC Television Tax


According to the Sunday Express's lead article, as many as 50 backbench Conservative MPs are calling for the abolition of the £145.50 TV licence fee.

The group, led by Andrew Bridgen MP, propose that future funding of the BBC should be by voluntary subscription, where only those wanting to consume BBC content end up paying for it.

As mentioned in our article last night, Mr Bridgen sent a letter outlining the proposals to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid MP.

The full text of that letter, dated 15th November 2014, appears below:
____________________
Dear Sajid,

I am writing with reference to the forthcoming BBC Charter renewal and more specifically regarding the future of the BBC Licence Fee. You will be aware that I brought forward the amendment which has led to your department reviewing the criminalisation of non-payment of the TV Licence with a view to full decriminalisation. As I put together my campaign on this issue, I found a great deal of concern both amongst my colleagues and the wider public regarding the current funding structure of the BBC and the sustainability of the model.

The Television Licence Fee dates back to 1946, and has been classified as a tax since 2006 by the Office of National Statistics who state "in line with the definition of a tax, the Licence fee is a compulsory payment which is not paid solely for access to BBC services. A licence is required to receive ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, satellite and cable". As a tax, it acts as one, if not the most regressive tax in the UK today. You stated yourself recently that the licence fee is "a large amount for many families" and during my research into people who have been sent to prison for non-payment, it was clear that in many cases affordability was the key issue.

With the rate of technological change since the last Charter, I feel that the current 12 year period is excessive given the current media environment. Since 2004, we have seen significant change with the increases in broadband speeds, the advent of the iplayer and subscription channels such as Netflix. With nearly 500,000 people accessing BBC services via the iplayer for free, licence fee payers are being discriminated against to the tune of around £70 million, and that number could well increase in the future.

Therefore the current BBC funding structure is increasingly becoming unsustainable, and out of keeping with the modern media environment. I believe strongly that the BBC should be planning for a future without the licence fee, and investigating subscription based payment options as well as the wealth of further opportunities that exist for its worldwide operation. I also believe Government has to play its role to ensure valued services such as news and local radio are still freely available, and consult on whether attaching a fee to the Council Tax or some similar method could be found.

I would be grateful if you could comment on my concerns regarding the BBC licence fee.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Bridgen MP

6 comments:

Steven O`Bag-Man 3.0 said...

The BBC keep banging on about how good a value for money there service is, and how they are not afraid of being in a open market,then just do it, encrypt the channels, change the legislation and let the BBC cut the Government apron stings, the longer they cling on to the TV TAX the worse it will be for them when they enter the pay per view market place, the more people the cancel the tv tax the better, BBC need there hand forcing to put a end to the tv tax gravy train, and stop tvl goons harassing and bullying the most vulnerable in society.

Richard said...

Adding a TV news surcharge to Council Tax is not acceptable. I don't see why I should pay for a service I don't use.

Maryon Jeane said...

The BBC has a culture - which I've seen from both the inside and outside - of spending freely and living outside the real world when it comes to spending. A hefty dose of common sense and *proper* cost-cutting (which on the whole shouldn't mean frontline people and freelancers, the ones who genuinely do the work and produce the end product) would ensure that the BBC wouldn't necessarily have to shut down, even without the gravy train of the licence fee.

What worries me, however, is that what in reality a sneaky tax will be introduced (and those of us who don't watch television already fund the BBC with some of our taxes) and the licence fee will continue, just in that sneaky form as an increase in the our burden.

TV Licensing Watch said...

" . . and consult on whether attaching a fee to the Council Tax . . . "

Commented before and comment again that attaching funding of the BBC to Clowncil Tax is completley unacceptable.

Given clowncils proven track record of misusing and abusing RIPA and using the courts as a first resort to collect Clowncil Tax followed by bailiff terrorism. So, attaching BBC funding with yet another courts enforced local Tax is a non-starter and Bridgen should be ashamed of himself for proposing it. Especially when BBC opt-in subscription is mentioned earlier in the letter.

To use Steven O'Bag-Man quote it will " . . . stop tvl goons harassing and bullying the most vulnerable in society." and introduce a fresh load of enforcement abuses and scams from Clowncil goons who will likely do exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

The BBC is at the heart of the Establishment. There is no way that it will ever be thrown upon it's own resources or allowed to go bankrupt. Talk of a subscription service is just flim-flim - they know perfectly well that no-one will subscribe. That only leaves an EU style universal tax. The only thing holding them up is that the can't quite work out how to put it over to the public (and the fact that an election is in the offing).

Fred Bear said...

The BBC should be funded by a voluntary subscription. There's no need for any tax funding, Council or other.

If evading the fee is decriminalised, the BBC will probably be pushed into the subscription path in any case - the alternative would be using civil enforcement of the licence fee, which would ultimately mean sending in the bailiffs into households on low incomes (which are the only people who the TVL people can get to sign a 'confession' on their own doorsteps). At the moment the BBC can distance itself from the enforcement process to some degree, hiding behind the criminal court system, but it would be harder for them to do this if enforcement was a civil matter.

Even one of the BBC's biggest supporters, the Guardian Newspaper, has started to criticize the Licence Fee system. Imagine what would happen if the BBC were found to be sending in bailiffs to take people's meager possessions to support what is basically an entertainment provider.