Belfast Telegraph

PM's line on TV licence may be his opening salvo at BBC

Editor's Viewpoint

According to one Tory minister, the offence of not paying a TV licence fee could be decriminalised, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review on whether people who do not pay the licence should be prosecuted at all.

While there are doubtless compelling arguments for not adding to the country's overcrowded prisons by sending non-licence paying offenders to jail, Mr Johnson's initiative could also be seen as the opening salvo in his offensive against the BBC, which he accuses of endemic pro-Remain bias.

At the moment it is difficult to judge whether Mr Johnson's statements will be hardened into concrete actions. As a master of the media he knows how to make promises without necessarily convincing people on all sides that he will do what he says he will do.

Time will tell whether or not non-payers will still be prosecuted, but it is certain that the rapier-like interrogator Andrew Neill, whom Boris Johnson dodged meeting in the run-up to the election, will have his TV licence safely under lock and key. Just in case.

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