200,000 Brits Ditch BBC TV Tax in One Year: Report

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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Nearly 200,000 Britons have cancelled their television licence in one year, a report has revealed, while several Tories have called on Downing Street to stop its “vendetta” against the BBC by proposing that the broadcaster earn its own money.

The BBC is currently sustained by the £154.50 a year licence fee, which is a mandatory TV tax for anyone who watches live television, whether or not they consume BBC media.

Figures obtained by the Daily Mail from a Freedom of Information request have revealed that there was a drop of 198,184 licences from November 2018 (25,805,141) to November 2019 (25,606,957). The FoI release also revealed that bar one month, from January 2019 to November there was a steady decline in licence ownership.

The figures come after reports on Sunday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration plans to “whack” the licence fee model.

“We are not bluffing on the licence fee,” a Downing Street source told The Times, continuing: “We are having a consultation and we will whack it. It has to be a subscription model. They’ve got hundreds of radio stations, they’ve got all these TV stations and a massive website. The whole thing needs massive pruning back.”

The source’s comments come two weeks after culture secretary Nicky Morgan said that the BBC could go the way of Blockbuster — outdated and bankrupt — unless it reforms.

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom also warned in October that “public support for the licence fee could become eroded” in the future as young people switch off from the service, with half of people aged 16 to 24 not consuming any BBC media product even at least once a week.

Polling from December by YouGov revealed that half of Britons want the TV tax scrapped and for the BBC to make its own money either through a subscription service or advertising. Other polls revealed that Britons think the BBC is biased, with two studies pointing to pro-Brexit viewpoints being suppressed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Despite the mounting evidence that Britons are no longer happy to accept the BBC’s service as a mandatory tax, soft Tories have criticised the government for its so-called “vendetta” against the powerful broadcaster.

The former minister Damian Green called it “cultural vandalism”, in comments reported by The Times, while Huw Merriman MP said: “I’m not sure this vendetta against the BBC is going to end well.”

BBC chairman Sir David Clementi claimed last week that the country would no longer be able to come together if programming like Strictly Come Dancing and Gavin & Stacey were behind a paywall.


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