Most Brits Against TV Licence Fee Model, New Poll Says

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56% of the responders to a new poll, think the TV Licence fee, which is used to fund the BBC, should be scrapped and converted into a subscription model, or an advert-based model. 

The data, which comes from a recent poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies is in contrast to a recent statement by the BBC’s Director of Policy, Clare Sumner, who said:

“When we ask people how they wish the BBC to be funded, the licence fee is the most popular answer compared to advertising and subscription models.”

TV licence documents

The new poll results will surely fuel the ongoing debate regarding the TV Licence fee. Currently standing at £159/year, anyone who watches the BBC live, or streams it via BBC iPlayer, has to pay the fee.

Also, if you watch ANY live TV, from any broadcaster – you also need to pay it (See our full guide on whether you need to pay the TV Licence fee or not).

TV Licence infographic 2020

Earlier this year, a BBC report stated that if one was to subscribe to the range of media the BBC currently offers (including the TV content, BBC radio and the BBC news website), then that subscription would end up costing £453/year (or £37/month).

Those are of course theoretical numbers, but even the current licence fee, at £13.25/month, is higher than the cost of competing TV services, such as Netflix (£9.99/month for the standard plan) or Disney+ (£7.99/month).

Though, again, that doesn’t take into consideration the BBC’s added benefits, such as the radio and news service.

How Should The BBC Be Funded?

Redfield & Wilton Strategies conducted two polls regarding the TV Licence fee. In the first one, from April 7 (with a population sample size of 2,000), people were asked how they think the BBC should be funded.

Watching BBC on tv

56% of respondents prefer to see the BBC funded by advertising or subscriptions, 27% said the BBC should be funded by the Licence Fee, and 17% don’t know.

It’s important to note people weren’t offered a detailed alternative, and the cost of a theoretical subscription could of course affect people’s decision – but the results are still meaningful.

In the second poll, conducted on April 1-2 with a sample size of 3,500, people were asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a party that suggests scrapping the TV Licence fee. 

70% said they would be more likely to vote for a Party that suggests scrapping the Licence Fee, and 30% said they would be more likely to vote for a Party that does not suggest scrapping the Fee.

Tim Davie, the current BBC director-general, has spoken in the past against turning the BBC into a subscription-based service, saying that while they might make “a decent business out of it”, it would make the BBC “just another media company serving a specific group”, instead of serving wider groups of the population.

TV Licence Fee Is Here To Stay – For Now

The current charter for the BBC Licence Fee will be in place until 2027, though there are occasional government discussions on the actual cost, and on the ways to enforce the licence fee payment.

Last month, the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published a report on the future of public service broadcasting.

In the report, the committee concluded that the TV licence fee is currently the most viable method of funding the BBC and public broadcasting – and will likely remain so until at least 2038.

“The Government either needs to come out with a strong alternative to the licence fee that it can put to Parliament or strongly support the current model for at least the next Charter period (2028 – 2038) and actively aid the BBC in driving down evasion.”

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