The Government is planning to block a proposed 9 percent increase in the BBC TV licence fee.
Under current arrangements the annual fee, which has been frozen at £159 since April 2021, is set to increase in line with inflation from 1st April 2024. The hike, which would be the largest in forty years, would see the TV licence fee increase to £173.30.
As the legislation currently stands, a TV licence is needed to watch or record "live" TV programmes (e.g. at the time they are broadcast) on any TV channel, even though the licence fee is used almost exclusively to fund the BBC. A TV licence is also needed to watch BBC on-demand programmes via the iPlayer.
There are, however, several perfectly legal ways of viewing without a TV licence. No TV licence is needed to watch on-demand programmes on Amazon Prime Video (please use our link for a 30-day free trial), Netflix or YouTube etc.
Speaking at the recent COP28 climate change conference in Dubai, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "Final decisions haven't been [made], obviously, but the BBC should be realistic about what it can expect people to pay at a time like this."
The BBC is said to be terrified at the prospect of further real-time cuts, with a source telling the Telegraph: "We get that there are cost of living challenges, but some of our competitors have put up our costs by over 30 per cent.
"The BBC isn't expecting anything like that, but we would argue that we are important to the UK and we offer excellent value for money, and every penny in investment in the UK is good for the wider economy."
The BBC's financial woes are compounded by the fact that an increasing number of viewers are choosing to ditch the TV licence. Last year around 500,000 fewer TV licences were purchased than the year before, which cost the national broadcaster around £79 million in lost revenue.
This decrease can mainly be attributed to the decline in the number of viewers watching normal (licensable) TV programmes and choosing on-demand (non-licensable) streaming services instead. People are also becoming disillusioned with the BBC as a whole, given the multitude of skeletons emerging from the corporation's closet.
Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain this morning. She was asked about whether the TV licence evasion should remain a criminal offence.
Getting straight to the point, Ms Frazer said: "I don't think it is appropriate that a person should be prosecuted for not paying the TV licence fee. That is something we will be looking at come charter renewal."