BBC licence fee to remain for a decade
A committee of MPs has decided to support the retention of BBC licence fee for the next decade, however, has stated the licence has “no long-term future”.
The fee has come under pressure with the shift in national viewing habits as audiences increasingly catch up on programmes online.
Figures released by the BBC show that the BBC iPlayer received over 2.6 billion requests for television programmes in 2014—requests from tablets increased by over 50% to 801 million, while those from mobiles were up by over 30% to 662 million.
The culture, media and sport select committee said the licence fee should remain for the next decade and be replaced in the 2020s by a “broadcasting levy” on all households, including for those who do not own TVs or watch shows online.
Such a system was introduced in Germany in 2013 and would end the need to detect and prosecute those who avoid buying a TV licence.
Claire Enders, a media industry analyst, said it was “an amazing conclusion” for Conservative MPs on the committee to support the retention of the licence fee for the next decade.
The fee is “no longer an ideological football”, she added.
The committee also said that voluntary subscriptions could be introduced for some BBC channels as an alternative way of financing part of the service.
Though the fee has come under criticism, chiefly because it talks a higher proportion of poor households’ income, only one MP on the committee voted for it to be scrapped immediately.
The licence fee currently costs £145.50 per year for every household where people watch or record live TV. A TV licence is not required to watch catch-up TV, using services such as the BBC iPlayer.
The committee’s report will feed into the negotiations over the BBC’s next royal charter, which will begin after the general election in May.