Half of Britons Want TV Tax Scrapped, Make BBC Earn Its Money

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 13: The BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House is illuminated at night on November 13, 2012 in London, England. Tim Davie has been appointed the acting Director General of the BBC following the resignation of George Entwistle after the broadcasting of an episode of the current …
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Half of Britons want to the television licence axed and for the BBC to earn its own money, according to a poll.

The survey conducted by YouGov for The Times found that 37 per cent of people want the BBC to fund itself through advertising during commercial breaks while 13 per cent said the broadcaster should adopt a subscription model where viewers pay to watch the channels.

While a total of 50 per cent back the BBC earning its own money, just over one-quarter (27 per cent) support retaining the present TV tax of £154.50 a year while another seven per cent said it should be funded through general taxation.

The poll comes after another conducted by Public First and commissioned by BBC Radio 4’s Today, revealed on Saturday that three-quarters (74 per cent) of Britons want the television tax abolished. By age group, young people aged 18 to 24 were more in favour of abolition (78 per cent) than those aged over 65 (64 per cent).

The fact that more young people support scrapping the licence fee than older viewers should be sobering for BBC executives, given that the broadcaster’s director-general Lord Hall of Birkenhead said on Thursday that he would “refocus content spending” on those younger audiences. The move could mean money diverted from other, more broad programming, to be spent on youth-orientated output like BBC Three’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.

The BBC has already made major attempts to win back younger audiences, including with the much-maligned BBC Sounds app launch, which infuriated loyal listeners who complained it replaced other services which had more features and were more reliable.

Last year, a study revealed that less than half of 16-24-year-olds consume any BBC content at least once a week, with Ofcom warning the broadcaster that the “BBC may not be sustainable in its current form” as ascending generations tune out.

Not only do a majority Britons want to see the end of the TV tax, but they do not trust the BBC, either. One poll from late last year revealed that 48 per cent to 44 per cent do not trust BBC journalists to tell the truth while another showed that nearly two-thirds think the broadcaster is biased. The perception is supported by studies conducted by Civitas in 2018 and News-Watch in 2017 which found that the Today show had suppressed pro-Brexit opinions in favour of Europhile voices over the years.

Charles Moore, who guest-edited the Today programme on Saturday, heavily criticised the BBC, branding it a “secular church” that platformed anti-Brexit guests and “preached” on climate change by giving preference to eco-extremist voices. Mr Moore, a columnist for the centre-right Telegraph and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, was in the minority of guests to be represented on the BBC’s Christmas lineup from the right of the political spectrum.

Others from the left-progressive persuasion included climate wunderkind Greta Thunberg; Extinction Rebellion supporter, open-borders advocate, and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Brenda Hale, the outgoing president of the Supreme Court that ruled in favour of anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller in the case against the government suspending parliament; and rap artist Stormzy, who sung “fuck the government, fuck Boris” at Glastonbury and declared the UK to be “100 per cent” racist, was invited read a passage from the Bible on Christmas day by the BBC.

On the campaign trail in November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would consider looking into scrapping the licence fee, saying at the time: “The system by funding out of what is effectively a general tax on everybody who has a TV, it bears reflection, let me put it that way. How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of channels?”

One of the BBC’s editors lashed out at the prime minister after he was returned to power following a resounding election victory, saying Downing Street’s boycott of the Today programme was a “Trumpian” plot to “delegitimise” the broadcaster.

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