Survey shows 95% believe BBC licence fee should no longer be compulsory

A survey conducted by NationalWorld and other JPI Media titles reveals an overwhelming majority of the public are opposed to the compulsory TV licence fee

The majority of the British public oppose a compulsory TV licence fee, according to a new survey conducted by NationalWorld.

The survey, which ran from 25 May to 2 June across 150 JPI news titles in the UK, attracted 16,497 responses.

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Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the BBC (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

How did people respond to the survey?

When asked if the BBC licence fee should remain compulsory, 95% of respondents answered “no” with 5% answering “yes”.

Respondents also favoured an “opt-in” service when this additional question was put to them, with 61% backing a system where you would only pay for the BBC services you consume, compared to 32% who were opposed to this, while 7% were unsure.

On the question of whether the BBC represents good value for money, 93% of respondents answered “no”, compared to 5% who believe it does, and 2% who were unsure.

(Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPI)

Finally, respondents were asked whether the BBC needs reform, following the Princess Diana interview scandal - to which 85% answered “yes”, 5% answered “no” and 10% were unsure.

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Why the BBC TV licence should be abolished as a compulsory tax

How does the TV licence fee work?

Currently, anyone who wants to watch live TV, regardless of whether they consume BBC services, must pay £159 for a standard colour TV licence and £53.50 for a black and white licence.

This breaks down at a monthly cost of £13.25 per household for a standard colour TV licence.

More than 90% of the money raised by the licence fee is spent on BBC TV channels, radio stations, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds and online services.

If your household does not have a TV licence and you watch or record programmes as they’re being broadcast on TV, or watch any programmes on iPlayer, then you are breaking the law.

This is not restricted to TVs - it also applies to other devices or providers, including desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, games consoles, digital boxes or DVD/Blu-Ray/VHS recorders.

If you are caught by a TV licence inspector you could be prosecuted, with the maximum penalty a £1,000 fine plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

The licence, originally a radio licence, was first introduced by the Wireless Telegraphy Act in 1923, and it was extended to cover television after the Second World War in 1946.

In 1991, the BBC assumed the role of TV Licensing Authority with responsibility for the collection and enforcement of the licence fee.

In January 2006, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) changed the classification of the licence fee from a service charge to a tax.

A BBC Spokesperson said: “The BBC is the most used media brand in the UK and the licence fee ensures the BBC is an independent, universal broadcaster, committed to serving all audiences across the UK. Independent, nationally representative polling has consistently shown that the licence fee is the public’s preferred way of funding the BBC and it is the agreed method of funding until at least 2027."

On the Princess Diana interview, a BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC Board have made an unconditional apology following the findings of the Lord Dyson report. We have confidence that the processes and guidelines in today’s BBC are much stronger than they were in 1995, but we know we must also do what we can to prevent such an incident happening again. As such, the Board think it is right that it reviews the effectiveness of the BBC’s editorial policies and governance in detail.”

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