The former leader of the UK Independence Party has said it is "horrifying" that more than a tenth of criminal prosecutions are brought against people for TV licensing offences.
Ukip peer Lord Pearson of Rannoch said it was "absurd" that more than 180,000 people appeared in front of magistrates last year after being accused of not paying the £145.50 fee.
He is calling for major reform of the way in which the licence fee is dealt with by making it a civil rather than criminal offence.
"It is outrageous that so many people are brought in to the criminal justice system through this means. I believe that non payment should be treated in the way that parking tickets are," he said.
"It is absurd that the courts are being clogged up by such a minor offence."