TV licenses are required in the UK to watch or stream programs while they are live. The collection of the license fee is managed by the Finance and Business division of the BBC and is earmarked for the content of the public broadcaster. As it stands, license fees have been frozen and remain at £159 per year, but many people believe they should be scrapped entirely given the cost of living crisis.
An expert estimates taxpayers could get up to £300 in tax-free personal allowance, currently £12,570.
The Taxpayers Alliance is one of many organizations calling for reform of the BBC license fee and has been pushed for the privatization of Channel 4 in the past.
Darwin Friend, the group’s policy analyst, spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about why the country’s relationship with licensing fees should be reconsidered.
Mr. Friend explained, “Removing license fees has several advantages. Mainly, the extra £159 taxpayers would have at the end of each year.
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“Currently, taxpayers must pay this license fee to the BBC to access any terrestrial television, whether or not they watch the BBC, on pain of imprisonment.
“We found that nearly three-quarters of a million people could be prosecuted for TV license evasion by 2027. No other free channel is funded or charges viewers in this way.
“And the cost is rising, with license fees having increased by more than 9% since 2016. Naturally, these almost annual increases have created a lot of anger towards licensing fees.
“You have to remember that the cost of the license fee alone is more than a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscription combined.”
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“It would reduce the BBC to a TV channel, a radio station and an online service – ending the BBC’s intrinsic advantage over its competitors.
“It would also allow the BBC to get back to what it is known for, showing content deemed to be of ‘public interest’.
“It would be up to the government to decide what that is, but could include the kind of content you see on BBC News, BBC Parliament, World Service, Radio 4 and BBC Four. Far from ceasing to exist, the BBC would return to showing “what it does best”.
Alternatively, the expert believes a subscription model could work to the BBC’s advantage as it would allow the broadcaster to operate without traditional advertising, which it is currently not allowed to do.
He added: “Subscription is certainly an option under the partial privatization model, and it could be the path chosen by the private part of the BBC.
“By taking this option, the BBC could avoid using advertising to finance itself, like ITV and Channel 4.
“Part of the BBC’s image is that they don’t have commercial adverts and a subscription model allows them to grow their income without having to go against that.”