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Should the UK's TV License Fee be scrapped/replaced with a subscription service?

Discussion in 'Politics Discussion' started by AGXStarseed, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. AGXStarseed

    AGXStarseed Well-Known Member

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    (Not written by me. I've put this one into the politics thread as there is a likelihood that political discussion will enter into it. I've added links from four different newspapers regarding the topic.)

    Do I need a TV licence and what does it pay for?


    A public consultation on whether failure to pay for a TV licence should stop being a criminal offence has been launched by the government.

    But what exactly is the licence fee - and who needs one?

    How much is the licence fee and what is it for?

    Today, the TV licence costs £154.50 a year (£52 for black and white TV sets) and will rise by £3 in April.

    The licence fee's existence is guaranteed until at least 31 December 2027 by the BBC's Royal Charter. This sets out the BBC's funding and purpose.

    The BBC provides public service broadcasting - which means its mission is "to act in the public interest" by providing "impartial, high-quality and distinctive" content, which "inform, educate and entertain" all audiences.

    Money raised from the licence fee pays for BBC shows and services - including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps. Almost £3.7bn was raised by the licence fee in 2019, accounting for about 76% of the BBC's total income of £4.9bn.

    The remaining 25% (or £1.2bn) came from commercial and other activities (such as grants, royalties and rental income), according to the House of Commons Library.

    [​IMG]

    What happens if people don't pay the licence fee?

    Watching live programmes without a TV licence fee is against the law.

    In 2018, more than 121,000 people were convicted for evasion, with five of them going to prison. The average fine was £176, but the maximum penalty is £1,000, plus legal costs and/or compensation.

    Last year, there were about 26.2 million TV licences in use in the UK. About 7% of people who need a licence do not have one.

    The government is now considering decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee by 2022. Announcing the consultation, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said it was time to think about keeping the fee "relevant" in a "changing media landscape".

    It is not just the government that has questioned the licence fee. Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, whose annual BBC salary is £1.75m, suggested it should become a voluntary payment.

    Lord Hall, who is stepping down as the BBC's director general, defended the charge, saying the corporation's success lies in it "being paid for and owned by the British public".

    Decriminalisation would not mean that having a licence is voluntary, but failing to pay could become a civil offence, similar to non-payment of council tax or electricity bills.


    Do I have to pay for a TV licence?

    The law says that you must have a TV licence if you:

      • watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, even if it's not on the BBC
      • watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Sky Go
      • download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer
    The rules apply to any device on which a programme is viewed, including a TV, desktop or laptop computer, mobile phone, tablet or set-top box.

    So, for example, someone watching a live football match on a non-BBC channel via a laptop, would still need a TV licence.

    But a licence fee is not needed to view BBC programmes on other streaming services, like Netflix.

    So, downloading Gavin & Stacey on Netflix would not require a TV licence, whereas downloading the same episode on iPlayer would.

    It is also fine to watch non-BBC programmes on online catch-up services without a TV licence, as well as viewing clips on sites like YouTube, according to the government website.

    There are different rules for people like students away at university, tenants and lodgers, blind people and businesses.


    What about over-75s?

    Until the end of May this year, everyone aged over 75 receives a free TV licence - which they have to apply for - paid for by the UK government.

    However, this is changing from the start of June, when the BBC will become responsible for paying for it.

    The corporation will fund a free licence for any household where someone aged over 75 receives pension credit. More than 1.5 million households could qualify to keep their free licence in this way, but up to 3.7 million people will lose their free licences.

    In October, a cross-party group of MPs called for free TV licences to be restored to everyone over the age of 75.

    Funding free TV licences for all over-75s would have resulted in "unprecedented closures", the BBC said in June.

    Source: What is the TV licence?

    Newspapers opinions on the potential replacement/scrapping of the TV license:
    The Guardian:
    The Guardian view on the licence fee: the BBC will not be the BBC without it | Editorial , BBC chairman warns end of licence fee would mean no CBeebies

    The Mirror: Gary Lineker calls for BBC license fee to be made voluntary

    The Daily Mail: BBC licence fee could be replaced with new payment system | Daily Mail Online

    The Daily Express:
    Desperate BBC make last ditch plea to viewers with dire warning over scrapping licence fee
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  2. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I am not sure I understand....

    You pay a TV license fee in the UK in addition to paying for cable TV or Netflix or similar content provision?

    Like television tax?
     
  3. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Yep if you're under 75 and they are considering or have already considered taking it off over 75 year olds,here is another sick provision they have, you get it for half price if you are blind whoopdeedo, it's not just television if you can watch television programmes on anything you have to pay for the licence as well or possibly be fined £2,000,I think you should only pay for programs that are made by the BBC not ones that are bought in so therefore it should be like BBC America that is subscription they have a nerve to say they provide unique programming when a large percentage of the day is made up of international programs or repeats which any channel could buy in international programmes and the BBC sell a huge amount worldwide why should we provide for that service, I don't think the ABC in Australia for instance give us their programs for free
     
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  4. AGXStarseed

    AGXStarseed Well-Known Member

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    Just adjusted the title now.
     
  5. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Your title was not the cause of my confusion, my brain was; I would still have been uncertain of my comprehension ....actually I am now somewhat more confused than I was before....

    I thought from what Streetwise said that the TV fee was in addition to subscription fees (like a tax basically) but it is instead of subscription fees?
     
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  6. Mary Terry

    Mary Terry Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That's a strange system when compared to the US. Is there any competition for BBC or does it have a monopoly on all TV programs shown in the UK?

    Here in the US, basic TV is free. But free TV is only a handful of channels, maybe 6 or 7 of them. Americans can get cable or satellite TV but pay a lot for it. I understand that the cost of some sports channels are astronomical here so many people just go to sports bars to watch big televised sporting events. Netflix, HULU, and other such streaming services cost about $10 per month. At our house, we pay about $145 per month for DISH Satellite TV to get the stations/channels that we like and about $10 per month for Netflix so I can get the BBC programs that I like. US taxpayers subsidize Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) but I think all other channels and programs are paid for by advertisers whose commercials appear on those channels.

    I am surprised that people in the UK still have black and white TVs. I haven't seen one of those in decades in the US.
     
  7. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Looks like an issue that will remain in place until the expiration date of a royal charter that guarantees the licence fee until 2027. So Britain has lots of time to debate this. Though some of the proposed alternatives as done on the continent might prove precarious for Britain:

    "In the long run, other European countries are shifting away from licence fees and towards funding public broadcasters through general taxation. This would leave BBC funding even more at the whim of the government of the day."

    Given the economic uncertainties of the Brexit, for the next few years such static charges negotiated for long lengths of time may prove to be more advantageous than leaving such fees for government to potentially raise on a moment's notice as a manifestation of "creative revenue gathering".

    How is the BBC funded and could the licence fee be abolished?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  8. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I think people in the UK only have black-and-white TVs because they’ve never become damaged ,if they do become damaged then they buy a colour television, it’s not that the BBC have competition it’s law ,that you have to pay for TV licence it’s The government that decide it not the BBC,If you never watch the BBC you still have to pay for a licence but people have been campaigning for years to get to changed to subscription !as it was expensive and the BBC were making less and less in-house programs, it got worse when they started to have products on their television programmes and people were infuriated because we were paying for a license because it wasn’t commercial television sponsored by producers of products ,there is a magazine called the radio times which used to be produced by the BBC but has adverts in it, there is an online version which also has adverts ,why should I pay £154 if they get revenue from adverts. like you on top of that you can buy satellite television, to buy extra channels or cable television or you can just stay with a TV licence and Have what is called free to air channels which is erroneous when you have to pay £154 every year,We have never had free television we didn’t have free radio either ,when we had two channels it was still a license fee.
     
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  9. Mary Terry

    Mary Terry Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    The lack of B&W TVs in the US may be due to mandatory high definition TV signals here. The older TVs can't receive HD signals, or so I understand.

    It makes sense to me that the UK should convert to a subscription-type service so everyone pays only for what they want.
     
  10. Streetwise

    Streetwise Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    there are still a certain amount of people in the UK who only want black and white television! and wanted analogue, I wanted analogue , digital has never been any better ,in the UK you can adapt a black and white television to digital as the analogue signal was switched off quite a few years ago.
     
  11. Mary Terry

    Mary Terry Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That's surprising to me. I like many old B&W classic movies and TV programs - my mind provides the colors - but I'd miss color TV for everything else.