BBC licence fee replacement could see EVERYONE pay and follow ‘European’ tax model

Licence fee is 'suffocating' the BBC says Jacob Rees-Mogg

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The Lords Communications and Digital Committee made the suggestions as it published the findings of its review into the future funding of the BBC. Peers have for weeks been carrying out an inquiry into what the future of the corporation could look like and whether the licence fee is fit for purpose.

In its final 75 page report, titled “Licence to change: BBC future funding”, the unelected parliamentarians suggested copying European countries that have imposed a universal household levy.

Highlighting the model had been a success in Germany and Switzerland, they said the change would provide the broadcaster with “predictable and sustainable levels of income”.

The committee’s report added: “If the same overall level of funding were collected, it would lead to a reduction in the level of the fee, as all households would pay rather than just those who opted in.

“Germany experienced this when introducing its universal household levy in 2013, and consequently reduced its fee.

“Collection could be more efficient, driving down administration costs, as there would be no need to determine which households have a TV set.

“Collection costs for the licence fee were £136 million in 2020–2021.”

It suggested that alternatively the levy could be linked to council tax in order to differentiate on the basis of household wealth.

In the 73-page document, the committee said many of the advantages of the existing licence fee are “under threat”.

The committee also dismissed a subscription service model similar to that of Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+ because it would “generate insufficient income whilst introducing disproportionate barriers to access”.

Criticising the report’s suggestion, Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, told “The last thing Brits need is a new TV tax.

“For far too long, Auntie has been able to get away with splashing taxpayers’ cash on princely pay packets and biased broadcasting.

“If the BBC has any hope of surviving, it must stand on its own two feet and stop tapping up telly owners.”

Rebecca Ryan, Campaign Director at Defund the BBC added: “Using a household levy to fund the BBC is completely the wrong direction.

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“Brits are cancelling their TV licences at the rate of 5,000 households per week currently, because they simply don’t watch the BBC or any live broadcast programming.

“It is totally immoral, particularly at a time of national cost-of-living crisis, to force people to pay for something that they do not need or want.

“The BBC must be made to stand on its own feet financially. If some people want to watch it, let them pay for it.”

Questions were raised about the impartiality of the Lords Communications and Digital Committee earlier this year when a large number of those involved in the inquiry admitted to conflicts of interest.

Former BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall and other former employees of the broadcaster all sat on the committee.

They were all forced to draw attention to their links with the broadcaster before the start of the inquiry.

A spokesperson for the BBC welcomed the findings of the Lords report and said they agreed with the need for reform.

They added: “We are open minded about the future and it is right there is a debate on whether the licence fee needs to evolve and if so, what comes next.”

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