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Closed petition Abolish TV Licence Fees For Everyone

We want the Government to abolish TV Licence fees for everyone. We believe this is an outdated and unwanted system, than can put people into debt.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

15,864 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 26 September 2023

The licence fee will remain for this Charter. However, the current model faces challenges and the Government is looking at ways to ensure the way the BBC is funded in future is fair and sustainable.

Read the response in full

The BBC is a great national institution, making a unique contribution to the UK. The Government wants it to have a successful future, continuing to play its important role in producing compelling programmes, contributing to our thriving creative industries, and supporting thousands of jobs across the UK. We also want to see the BBC continuing to provide high-quality and impartial news to global audiences through the World Service, which is currently funded in part by the licence fee.

The Government is committed to the licence fee for the rest of the current Charter. However, the BBC's funding model faces major challenges due to changes in the way people consume media. Technology has revolutionised how, when, and where audiences can access and watch content. An increasing number of households are choosing not to hold a TV licence, as fewer people choose to watch live TV or other activities that require a TV licence. Should this trend continue as expected there are clear challenges on the horizon to the sustainability of the licence fee.

The Government also sees licence fee enforcement by criminal sanctions as increasingly disproportionate and unfair in a modern public service broadcasting system. We are particularly concerned by the potential for licence fee enforcement action to be taken against vulnerable elderly people and by the ongoing disparity in the proportion of sanctions against women, with women making up 75% of all TV licence evasion convictions.

It is therefore necessary to look at ways of ensuring the BBC’s funding model is sustainable in the long-term. The Government will carry out a review of the BBC’s funding model. We are considering all possible future funding options to ensure the BBC’s long-term sustainability in a rapidly changing, digital world.

Separately, the Government consulted on decriminalising TV licence evasion in 2020. The response showed that a significant number of people oppose the criminal sanction, with some highlighting the considerable stress and anxiety it can cause for individuals – including the most vulnerable in society. The consultation also found that changing the sanction for TV licence evasion could have wide-ranging impacts for licence fee payers, as well as potentially leading to a significant increase in fines for those evading payment. Therefore the decision taken was not to proceed with a change at the time, but to keep the issue under review.

The Government also introduced a payment plan for the TV licence, known as the Simple Payment Plan, in 2020. The Simple Payment Plan is a flexible payment instalment scheme that allows customers to pay in equal fortnightly or monthly instalments throughout the year, and is available to certain customers who currently struggle to pay the TV licence fee.

Department for Culture, Media & Sport