A VAST amount of Britons are calling for the BBC license fee to be scrapped in the wake of a former Ofcom chairman urging that a Netflix-type subscription model is introduced to replace it.
In a poll taken by the general public, three-quarters of people said that they wanted it to be axed, with six out of ten people backing the Prime Minister’s new plan to decriminalise the payment of the £154.50 fee, which is believed to ‘punish the most vulnerable groups.’ Boris Johnson had previously criticised the current enforcement regime which allows the corporation to prosecute non-payers, calling for there to be a change in the system.
The poll was conducted by the Sunday Telegraph which asked an assortment of questions to thousands of British people, and indicated that 74% supported abolishing the licence fee.
In response to the alarming results, a BBC spokesman said that “it did not recognise the figures”, claiming an Ipsos MORI conducted earlier this month showed that the licence fee was the most popular option.
By law, the BBC licence is in place until 2027 due to a Royal Charter, but its level can be changed from 2022. However, much respected Dame Patricia Hodgson, who held the role as chairman of Ofcom from 2014 to 2017, revealed her distaste for the fee, stating that it should change and instead listen to the views of the public. She said:
“We should start to either freeze or reduce the licence fee to incentivise the BBC into using broadband technology for subscription top-ups, so we’re progressing to a new funding base after 2027.”
The BBC has faced criticism in recent weeks after it came under fire during the General Election for its ‘failure to deliver impartial news coverage’. A recent poll conducted by Savanta/ComRes poll in fact found that ITV was more trusted than the BBC and a total of 67% of people said the licence fee needed to be changed. As the results were announced, Andrew Hawkins, chairman of Savanta ComRes, said:
“The General Election showed that trust is at a premium but also that the BBC no longer has a monopoly on it. Commercial operators have significant opportunities to capitalise on the huge shift in trust towards their brands.
“Somehow the broadcasters and regulators will need to find a way of enabling the sector to evolve while maintaining trust in the integrity of news delivery.”
Evidently in disagreement with the results, a spokesman for the BBC responded and said:
“Research has shown that the BBC is seen as the most trusted, accurate and impartial source of news. This poll appears to ask people questions without any context.”
The licence fee has been used as a long-standing method to fund the BBC which dates back to 1923. The standard TV licence costs £154.50 a year and pays for the BBC’s TV, radio and online operations.
Non-payment of the fee for someone who watches live TV or uses the BBC iPlayer service is a criminal offence and can be punishable by a hefty fine or can even lead to a jail sentence.