TV Licence Fee Imprisonment To Remain For At Least 2 Years

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The risk of jail time over TV licence fee evasion is reportedly staying put – at least until 2022.

The government has been discussing the possible decriminalisation of the BBC fee ever since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister – but the ministers have now reportedly decided to postpone their decision.

The annual TV Licence fee, which is used to fund the BBC, currently stands at £157.50/year. Anyone who watches the BBC live, or via BBC iPlayer, has to pay it.

In addition, if you watch any type of live TV from any broadcaster (even an international one) – you also need to pay the fee (See our full guide on whether you need to pay the TV Licence fee or not).

TV Licence infographic 2020

As it stands, failure to pay the TV licence fee is a criminal offence, and evaders can end up paying a fine of up to £1,000 or even go to jail.

Last month, alarming data from the Ministry of Justice showed that 74% of all those convicted of TV licence fee evasion in 2019 were women, usually for the simple fact that they are more likely to be at home when the inspectors come knocking.

In total, there were 114,000 convictions of TV licence fee evaders in 2019 (up 3% from 2015).

Woman in prison behind bars 1200

Last year, Boris Johnson ordered a review of the BBC licence fee, with its cancellation or decriminalisation on the table. 

Earlier this year, government sources suggested that the licence will be decriminalised soon, and failure to pay it will be regarded as a “civil debt” – similar to not paying your energy bill, for example.

The fines will then be enforced in the civil courts and by bailiffs, and those debts could also affect your credit rating.

However, different voices then came from the government, when culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the decriminalising of the fee would “send a signal that it’s acceptable not to pay your television licence”, and the public debate raged on.

TV licence documents

Now, The Telegraph reports, the government is preparing to shelve the decriminalisation plans.

Reportedly, the ministers are concerned the move would make matters even worse, with poor families being harassed by bailiffs and debt collectors.

Therefore, the decision has been postponed until at least 2022.

This comes a week after the media and data minister John Whittingdale – who has been overseeing the TV licence fee consultation, spoke about these issues before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

When asked when the results of the consultation would be published, Whittingdale said he’s hoping “Before Christmas, but possibly later”.

He also admitted there are many aspects of the TV licence fee he “doesn’t like”, namely that it’s a flat charge with no means testing, and that “Eventually we will need alternative means of funding”.

As to whether the BBC should be turned into a Netflix-like subscription service, Whittingdale implied it’s mainly a technical issue – “You can’t do that while the majority of people receive their TV through Freeview.

“It may eventually change, but we’re a long way from that. Licence fee debate will be part of 2027 charter review.”

The BBC’s new director-general, Tim Davie, previously said he’s against a subscription model: “We could make a decent business out of it, and I suspect it could do quite well in certain postcodes, but it would make us just another media company serving a specific group.”

35 thoughts on “TV Licence Fee Imprisonment To Remain For At Least 2 Years”

  1. The licence cost nearly as much as my car insurance but at least I get more pleasure out of that and I am sick of paying to watch repeat after repeat and why is it that the BBC cut lots out of films and say its not the bc these day yet they play eastenders with nothing but violance in it before the watershed time

  2. Tv licence waste of my hard earn cash. I agree with all the comments. Them at the bbc are paid to much money anyway. Eastenders is so depressing these days I no longer watch it. What’s happened to the good old farming diary. Country file is not the same. Television was better back in the seventies at least there was something to bring a smile to your face. / the generation game, the sweeney, two Ronnie. Blankety blank, les Dawson, play your cards right. Top of the pops, sweeney. Great tv. NOT NOW LOAD OF SQUIT.

    • I totally agree with you there. It is a complete waste of money paying for a TV licence when the majority pay already for sky virgin etc. A huge amount goes out per mth paying for these services alone, to which not so many watch the BBC as much as their programmes are nowhere near as good as they were back in the 70’s to 80’s. It should be abolished, its a rip off to people and imprisonment for not paying it is a waste of cells when there are hardened violent criminals who should be using up those spaces up and not persons who simply cannot afford to pay out on TV licences aswell as TV services on top of that hence why some use free view as they can’t afford both sky etc aswell as having to pay for a TV licence. The BBC should be made to highly up their game with far better happier programmes or abolish it altogether. I’d rather see repeats from decades ago then what is on the BBC at present which is not worth paying a licence for. Just saying…

  3. The boss of the BBC saying not possible do payments like shy has he lost the plot he has got that going with Britbox have to pay for that

  4. Anything worth watching will go on Netflix :):):). I don’t watch TV especially BBC which I find it boring and out dated. Even someone pay me I would not waste my time on BBC. Forcing fees is ridiculous, embarrassing and desperate from the channel itself.

  5. I think that the elderly and people who r on a low income and on benifits should not have to pay for a TV licence and as other people have said bbc is a load of rubbish and I never watch it and the licence should be scrapped permanently

    • Your quiet right i have not been watching BBC terrestrial television since 1992 and still paying tv licence this is ridiculous I am disable I have blue badge and all so getting attendance allowance I am 73 years old

  6. People forget that the BBC has a commercial side called BBC Studios and have many channels all with commercial breaks in them .Millions of pounds of Our go to go programmes such as Strictly come dancing. The winner receives £100,00. This is where our money goes

    • It should be down to the TV licence to pay for it they get enough and get money in from the commercial side and they are overpaying artist for an hour of use of the services to the BBC it’s about time it stop it’s just a money g******** for all these multi millionaires who are on the TV never lose no we have lost the best of our TV is about time we had better artist and we took back the number finances at the finances at their feet thank you and by the way I do pay my TV licence and I am a pensioner and retired so it’s about time you did something for the pensioners for the programs you put on are not right for fit for purpose the don’t forget were paying for a TV licence BBC is nothing for some problems coming their way so it’s about time for the people who use the service had enough money and you phone or not on money away you’ve not gone away 40 billion pounds in rubbish that you put on the TV and also through the licensing trade thank you

    • More than half the country doesn’t even watch that sort of pants TV tho do they,so why should my money go to some stupid program I can’t stand and have never even watched before??

  7. Everyone should still cancel there TV licence, buy them selves a firestick and use amazon prime, Netflix and other TV apps, no need for the BBC

    • Simple solution which worked for me. Get a basic NOW TV stick. DON’T SIGN IN! To certain on demand channels. DON’T pay or use the now tv entertainment pack. Instead use the device to access Netflix, Amazon, etc… (vodaphone has 18 months free Amazon prime deals with most sim cards). It is QUITE SILLY+SELFISH. That BBC expects £157.00 for having a TV?… Show ads like every other channels does or just abolished the BBC. Hardly anything on anyway… Be nice if anyone in charge grow some balls and just say: GET STUFF BBC! EH? 😁

    • I pay ..however i very rarely watch tv …its awful tax ..especially at this current time …were every penny counts shame on BBC for not working hard enough

  8. They should have “ads” like the other tv channels. Please note, that if you pay weekly, monthly or quarterly you pay more than the required fee of £157. There is nothing but rubbish on TV; programmes that original aired in the 1960’s. It is all a con.

      • J Saville and the BBC? Made me giggle. Sorry couldn’t help but notice the irony and no offense intended.

        The over 75s were offered payments as frequently as forghtnighly, but all included a “extra” amount added.

        After 60 years of owning a TV set, our house hold has decided to stick to fingers up to the BBC and no longer watch live TV or BBCi player, and hence, not required to have a licence.

        The BBC want their cake and to eat it.

  9. I know where your money is going to to poach ITV stars that’s what they doing how sick is that I’m very annoyed about this BBC are very greedy to big needs to privatise not only that take the Royal Charter off them not only that the news channel is terrible 24 hours a day journalism it makes me banged my head on the wall and what makes me angry they put two times BBC one BBC news channel these pathetic Boris Johnson‘s press conference pathetic I will pay for that You know what I think something has to be done about this broadcaster

  10. The BBC already have a subscription service, its called Britbox! Simply tell them to move all their content onto that and people who want to watch repeats that have already been payed for 4 or 5 times over can do. As said elsewhere, if foreigners abroad want to watch BBC they can pay for it. And the BBC will be richer for it.

  11. They say it can’t be replaced as a subscription because its on Freeview. Are they thick. All they have to do is stop broadcasting. Idiots

  12. I like Brian parkers comment, it is crap for £150
    I very really watch BBC1&2&itv.i i mainly watch fox or history channels. So why should I have to pay £150 for not watching that crap. TV licence should be scraped. I cannot see how thay can justify charging this amount for watching the same old crap over and over again. Apart for paying their over paid staff. Disgusting

    • I agree, we don’t watch TV. We only have Netflix for my autistic son and a gaming console. I haven’t watched TV since I lived with my mum, over 20 years ago. I spent 7 years in prison and I told them I’m not paying £1 a week for the TV, it took a while but they had no choice but to remove it and not charge me. I really don’t agree with paying anything to watch their channels

  13. Totally agree with all the above. Its Draconian that the Tv License fee is still around. So many other TV Companies and Outlets. Who do the BBC think they are. Im in my 50s and have recently received Two Threatening Letters about paying the License Fee. The BBC are Shit-Scared to Scrap it and Subcribe instead because they know nobody will pay to watch the Drivel they put on. Give your’re biggest earners a serious pay cut and leave the General public alone to choose for Themselves…..

  14. The BBC output is appalling. Little wonder people are unwilling to pay the licence fee. There can be few things in this world that your forced to pay for with threat of prison when you don’t use it or don’t want it. Its crazy and totally wrong. I don’t use Netflix and so they don’t charge me or threaten me. BBC needs to get real.

  15. BBC British broadcasting crap have not watched it since my teens am now 72 why should you have to pay for crap that you don’t watch or like they should be forced to change a subscription now so if you want to watch it you pay if you don’t then you don’t pay then see how many people will watch there shit

  16. The fact that you can be jailed in the 21st century for watching tv without a licence is barbaric shocking sickening and downright disgraceful. The government and courts should be ashamed of themselves. And as for the bbc they are the lowest of the low

  17. Scandalous that us Disabled people living alone can’t watch TV over Christmas because we are Over 75. Why do the BBC hate us old people, who have paid our Licence for over 50 years?

  18. Tv license is a rip off way to expensive for half the rubbish that’s shown should half the cost of what it is well suppose it covers the over paid staff they wanna try living on minimum wage an see how they get on


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