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Non-payment of TV licence fee could be decriminalised

Boris Johnson reportedly orders an urgent review into the BBC licence fee.

Non-payment of the TV licence fee could be decriminalised (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Non-payment of the TV licence fee could be decriminalised (Jonathan Brady/PA)

By PA Reporter

Non-payment of the licence fee could be decriminalised, it is reported.

The Sunday Telegraph said Boris Johnson is looking into consulting on whether people who do not pay the £154.50 licence fee for watching television or BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service should be prosecuted.

It comes after Downing Street refused to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme due to what they believe is its pro-Remain bias.

Last financial year, 25.8 million households had TV licences bringing in £3.6 billion to the BBC.

A review may recommend replacing the existing criminal sanctions for non-payment of the TV licence fee with a civil system of fines.

In the run-up to last week’s General Election, Mr Johnson said he was “looking at” abolishing the BBC licence fee altogether.

He said that while the Tories were currently “not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees”, the current system “bears reflection”.

The current royal charter – which sets out the governance of the BBC – runs until December 2027.

A BBC spokesman said: “The government has already commissioned a QC to take an in-depth look at this matter and he found that ‘the current system of criminal deterrence and prosecution should be maintained’ and that it is fair and value for money to licence fee payers.

“The review also found that non-payment cases accounted for ‘a minute fraction’ – only 0.3% – of court time.

“Decriminalisation could also mean we have at least £200 million less to spend on programmes and services our audiences love.”

PA

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