BBC faces mass revolt from television viewers who are no longer willing to pay the television licence fee.
A record 2.84 million people now insist they are no longer obliged to fork out £159 for the annual charge. This is because they don’t watch BBC channels or any kind of live TV.
This figure is an increase of more than 360,000 on the previous twelve months.
This abandonment of the BBC will exacerbate the debate about the future of both the broadcaster and the licence fee.
Toby Young, the Founder and Director of the Free Speech Union says: ‘These figures show that the TV licence fee is not a viable funding model for the BBC going forward.’
He added: ‘The obvious alternative is to become a subscription-based service like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Given the BBC’s global brand recognition and its reputation for producing premium content, it could become the largest and most profitable streaming service in the world.’
The increase in the number of people claiming they are not liable to pay the charge is one of the factors driving a fall in the number of licences sold.
Last year TV Licensing (TVL) which collects the licence fee on behalf of the BBC sold 23.50 million licences.
That was a drop of around 420,000 on the previous year’s figure.
Of course, any reduction in the number of licenses sold has implications for the BBC’s finances.
The Corporation is already having to cut services following the government’s decision in 2022 to freeze the licence fee for two years
Last year the BBC earned £3,741 million from the licence fee compared with £3,800 million the previous year.
That is a fall of £59 million.
At the same time the public service broadcaster is also having to deal with an increase in licence fee evasion. Predominantly this is from people who are eligible to pay but don’t.
The estimated evasion rate, which in part is being driven by the cost-of-living crisis, increases to over ten per cent for the first time since 1995.
It is believed the current rate of licence fee evasion costs the BBC £430 a million a year.
Critics of the BBC have long argued that the licence fee is increasingly irrelevant in age when viewers can subscribe to the streaming services. Examples provided by the likes of Netflix, Disney and Apple TV.
But now even some within the Corporation are convinced that the licence fee’s days are numbered irrespective of whoever wins the next General Election.
They are exploring other sources of fundings include a broadband tax, a household levy, increased commercialisation, advertising and the aforementioned subscription model.
Ministers expect to announce a formal review of the current funding model in the Autumn
Although the latest figures make gloomy reading for the BBC it can still take comfort from the following fact. Nine out of ten UK adults use the BBC each week.
Each person spends six hours and nine minutes watching BBC TV and or iPlayer. This is more than Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video combined.
A BBC spokesperson says: ‘The overwhelming majority of households – approximately 9 out of 10 – are licensed and receive brilliant BBC programming and services across TV, radio and online for 44p a day. Licence fee revenue is holding up well and has fallen by just 1.6% in the last year. This is despite the pressures of increased choice in the market. Also combined with the rising cost of living faced by all media organisations. Our focus is ensuring we continue to find new ways to serve all audiences.
‘The licence fee is the agreed method of funding until at least 2027. It ensures the BBC is an independent, universal broadcaster, which invests in UK creativity and talent. We welcome a debate on whether the licence fee needs to evolve for the future.’
News Source: DailyMail