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TV Licence fee changes: What new BBC pricing shake-up could mean for you

Mirror logo Mirror 17/01/2022 Emma Munbodh

A major shake-up of the BBC TV licence is on its way, with the current fee to "be the last", the Culture Secretary has said.

The annual payment, which normally changes on April 1 each year, is expected to be frozen at the current rate of £159 until April 2024, when the Royal Charter is up for renewal.

After that point, the mandatory charge will be reformed, MP Nadine Dorries suggested, effectively axing the levy as we currently know it.

It comes two years since the fee was reinstated for pensioners, after a funding row erupted between the public service broadcaster and the government.

Households with a television used to receive live broadcasts or watch iPlayer are currently charged £159 for a licence, raising £3.2billion a year for the BBC and and the Welsh channel S4C.

Yet there are hundreds of thousands of prosecutions a year for non-payment of the licence fee – disproportionately affecting women who are at home when inspectors call. Also the number of households that pay the fee is declining.

Nadine Dorries indicated she wanted to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.

She wrote on Twitter : "This licence fee announcement will be the last.

"The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over.

"Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content."

The licence fee is set by the Government, which announced in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 1 2017.

The BBC has previously come under fire over the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s, with a grace period on payment because of the Covid-19 pandemic having ended on July 31.

Only those who receive pension credit do not have to pay the annual sum.


Video: What alternatives are there to the BBC licence fee? (Daily Record)

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So what could replace it instead? We take a look at some of the options below.

BBC Licence Fee © Getty Images BBC Licence Fee

Should the TV licence be axed? Let us know in the comments below

What will happen to the licence fee this year?

It's looking like the government is planning to freeze the cost of the licence fee for two years.

If the licence fee went up in line with inflation, now 5.1%, the cost would be £167. After two years at the same rate, it would have hit £175.

But what could replace it after 2027?

A new tax linked to internet access

The current TV licence is based on people traditionally viewing the BBC through their television screens however with the levy now applying online – via iPlayer too - it could be switched to an online tax.

That would mean a tax on every broadband connection in the UK used to fund public service media.

Introduce commercial adverts

The BBC already takes advertising on its services outside the UK, but not in the UK.

However one way for the BBC to recoup its licence fee losses would be through commercial adverts. Rivals like ITV and Channel four already do this – and it brings in billions of pounds a year.

A subscription service

This model would replicate the likes of Netflix and Britbox – although it would not be as optional.

The issue, however, is that BBC content is consumed through free-to-air television and radio broadcasts – and password protecting this would put it all behind a paywall.

This route could mean privatising part of the broadcaster, which would put its purpose in jeopardy.

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