The BBC marks its century this week but recent years have seen an escalation in the debate surrounding the broadcaster’s funding model. So as the nation faces a cost of living crisis, should all pensioners be exempt from paying this? Vote in our poll.
Since 1923, the BBC has received funding through a licence fee which it says allows it to remain advert-free and “independent of shareholder and political interest”.
All households in the UK who want to watch or stream programming broadcast live in the UK are required to pay a £159 TV licence fee. The charge covers all devices in the home.
The BBC’s royal charter means that the licence fee is guaranteed until at least December 31 2027. Alternative funding models include a hybrid system with a paywall required to access some elements of the BBC’s services.
Parliamentary figures show that the BBC receives 74 percent of its income equivalent to £5.06billion from the licence fee. Income from the licence fee is also reportedly 30 percent lower in real terms than it was 10 years ago.
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Last year more than a quarter of a million more Britons cancelled their licence fee, compared to the usual level. This could be due to the rising cost of living and the increase in subscription-based streaming services.
At present, only those aged over 75 on Pension Credit are eligible to receive a free TV licence. In addition, people aged over 75 who live in a qualifying care home or sheltered accommodation are also exempt. Britons who are registered blind can also receive a 50 percent discount.
In January, then-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries froze the licence fee at £159 for two years and added that it will rise in line with inflation for the next four years.
At the time Ms Dorries said: “The BBC must support people at a time when their finances are strained, make savings and efficiencies, and use the billions in public funding it receives to deliver for viewers, listeners and users.”
However her successor Michelle Donelan has cast doubt on the Government’s intentions, saying: “It is no secret that I have been a long-term sceptic of the licence fee and that we need to make sure that the BBC is sustainable in the long term.”
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BBC News anchor Huw Edwards defended the need for the TV licence fee, telling the Radio Times: “I think it would be a mistake if at any point it [the BBC] takes audiences and the licence fee for granted, especially now that younger people have different consumption patterns. It has a bigger job than ever before to justify its place and funding.”
He continued: “People are more cynical than ever before and that is partly to do with the way people consume social media and tell themselves that certain things are not right, or genuine. Supporting the arts and education is a crucial function of the BBC, especially those parts which wouldn’t make it in a harsh commercial world.
“I would argue that it is very good value for money. We represent 100 years of incredible achievement and some of the best programming in the world.”
So what do YOU think? Should all pensioners be exempt from paying tv licence fee? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comment section below.