TV licence fee decriminalisation being considered by government

The government is looking into holding a consultation on whether it should decriminalise non-payment of TV licenses.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 9:24 am

Boris Johnson is said to be looking into consulting on whether people who do not pay the £154.50 licence fee for watching live television or BBC iPlayer should be prosecuted.

Downing Street refused to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme due to what they said was its pro-Remain bias.

Last financial year, 25.8m homes had TV licences bringing in £3.6bn to the BBC.

Protesters against cuts to TV licences announced earlier this year.

A review may recommend replacing criminal sanctions for failing to pay the licence with a system of civil fines.

In the run-up to last week’s general election, Mr Johnson said he was “looking at” abolishing the BBC licence fee altogether. He said that while the Tories were “not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees”, the system “bears reflection”.

A BBC spokesman said: “The government has already commissioned a QC to take an in-depth look at this matter and he found that the current system of criminal deterrence and prosecution should be maintained’.”

It was announced earlier this year that free TV licences for over-75s would be scrapped.

The burden of finding funding for the OAP’s benefit was set to be passed on to the BBC from the government when its charter was renewed.

The corporation said it was left with no choice than to make the cut or it would be forced to close down huge amounts of its broadcasting output.

Up to 3.7 million people were set to lose their TV licences after the government effectively cut a fifth of the broadcaster’s budget.