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TV licence fee petition launched that demands levy increase by £14 for more BBC funding

A petition has been launched to hike the TV licence fee ever higher to provide “substantial additional” funding to the BBC.

Amid widespread criticism of cost increases, petitioners argued that “almost all individual households” would not notice the extra £4 per year and would be in the UK’s “interests” to funnel more money into the broadcaster.

Julia Raeburn, the organiser of the petition, which is entitled “Increase the TV Licence fee by £14.50 per annum, in line with past practice”, stated: “We deplore the Government’s decision to increase the TV Licence fee by only £10.50 per annum, especially after a two-year freeze.

“We believe this is an ideological decision, disguised behind concern for ‘cost of living’.”

The statement continued: “We believe a £10.50 TV License fee rise is not consistent with what was expected from the 2022 Licence fee settlement.

“The additional rise of £4.00pa would be inconsequential to almost all individual households, but cumulatively would represent substantial additional funding for the BBC.”

It adds: “The BBC is highly respected throughout the world, can be a lifeline in areas of conflict, and a valuable ‘soft power’ for the UK.

“The BBC Board has said this decision will “require further changes on top of the major savings that we are already delivering”, and we believe any reduction in the BBC’s capability to produce its best is against the UK’s interests.”

The petition hasn’t set off on the best foot, garnering only 16 signatures so far.

All petitions run for six months, and this one’s due to close on July 24, 2024.

The Government will respond to a petition when it gains 10,000 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, the topic is debated in parliament.

After a two-year freeze, the BBC TV licence increased from £159 a year to £169.50 in April 2024 to support the broadcaster due to the pressure of the rising cost of living.

This marks the sixth increase in the last decade, resulting in a total price rise of £24 since 2010.

The funds generated by the TV licence fee are said to help with the creation of BBC programmes and services.

Those who watch TV live – as well as those who stream BBC iPlayer – must pay the annual cost.

In 2023, the BBC’s total income from the licence fee amounted to £3.74 billion, accounting for roughly 65 percent of the BBC’s overall income of £5.73 billion.

The BBC says it earns the rest of its income from commercial and other activities, including grants, royalties and rental income.

While the BBC is obligated to deliver public service broadcasting in return for the fee money, it has faced longstanding criticism for various reasons. Firstly, the licence fee was introduced in 1946 when the BBC was the only UK broadcaster.

Now it faces competition from advertising-funded TV channels, online content, and other streaming services like YouTube and Netflix.

People also argue the flat-rate payment is unfair as households with the lowest income pay the same amount as the richest.

Additionally, concerns have been raised about whether non-payment of the licence fee warrants criminal prosecution. A rising number of vulnerable people have been handed criminal convictions for unknowingly failing to pay their TV licences.

Households wrongly evading the fee receive an enforcement letter from TV Licensing, which operates the fee, urging payment.

Failure to comply can result in a fine ranging from £500 to £2,000, depending on the UK country where the offence occurred.

However, the BBC argues that the licence fee allows it to “remain independent and distanced from Government initiatives, campaigners, charities and their agendas, no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial”.

The TV licence fee is guaranteed until December 31, 2027. However, the Government initiated a review in December to explore ways to mitigate the impact of price rises on licence fee payers, considering the BBC’s future funding.

The findings will feed into the review of the BBC’s Royal Charter and the next charter will have be agreed by the end of 2027.

Do you think the BBC TV licence fee should be raised even higher to support its content production? Have your say in the comments.


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