BBC Licence Fee Could Be Replaced with Internet Tax

A general view of the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London on October 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said that it is considering scrapping its court-enforced licence fee funding mechanism, in favour of attaching a tax on citizens’ broadband connections.

The United Kingdom’s TV tax-funded news outlet said that although it still favours the licence fee, it will consider having its funding “linked directly to an existing common household bill” like broadband, council tax, or other utility bills.

“This would be a significant change for the UK and we are not, at this stage, advocating it,” the corporation said in its submission, the BBC said per The Guardian.

“It does, however, raise an interesting question as to whether the current system could be made much simpler, more efficient, and more automated. We are open to exploring this further,” the broadcaster added.

Currently, the BBC receives the majority of its funding from a mandatory £154.50 licence fee on anyone who watches colour television or live programming in the UK, regardless of whether or not they consume media from the broadcaster. Those who refuse to pay the fee face fines and possible jail time.

In 2018, approximately 130,000 were prosecuted for failing to pay the BBC licence fee, with five people in England and Wales being sent to prison for refusing to pay the court-ordered fines.

The licence fee was criticised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said last year: “You have to ask yourself if that kind of approach to funding a media organisation still makes sense on the long-term given the way other organisations manage to fund themselves?”

The broadcaster defended the current system by saying: “The BBC is a universal service – one to which everyone contributes and everyone receives something in return.” It added: “Any system based on a universal contribution must have a sufficient deterrent and sanction to ensure that principle holds up and the system is fair to those who do pay, as well as those who don’t.”

Despite the BBC’s own claims that everyone receives something in return, in fact key demographics are tuning out. Breitbart London has reported how now for the first time in the history of the BBC, half of young Britons aged 16 to 24 don’t even watch a single BBC programme a week.

There has been increasing pressure for the government to scrap the licence fee, with people from the political left and right accusing the liberal-progressive leaning BBC of media bias.

A poll conducted in January showed that 50 per cent of the British public are in favour of abolishing the fee, saying the broadcaster should raise its own money either through advertisements or a Netflix-style subscription service.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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