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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

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Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Government Launches Second TV Licence Consultation in Five Years

The consultation, which explores whether TV licence fee evasion should be decriminalised, was unveiled this morning by the Culture Secretary, Baroness Morgan of Cotes.

Under current legislation it is a criminal offence for a person to receive TV programmes (or BBC on-demand programmes) in any property that is not covered by a valid TV licence. In theory the maximum penalty for anyone convicted of the offence is £1,000, but in reality the fine is often much smaller.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people are put before the courts accused of TV licence evasion, often on the flimsiest of evidence and sometimes on the basis of no evidence at all. Even with the advent of the Single Justice Procedure, the relentless churn of TV licence cases places a considerable burden on valuable court time and resources.

The current legislation is ill-conceived, unfair and unenforceable. It is loathed by members of the public and judiciary alike, with the Magistrates' Association having campaigned for years for the decriminalisation of TV licence fee evasion.

Speaking at Policy Exchange on the future of UK media and broadcasting, Baroness Morgan said: "The BBC's role is not just to meet the demands of today, but to be ready to meet those of the future.

"And as we move into an increasingly digital age, where there are more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, it is clear that many people consider it an anachronism that you can be imprisoned effectively for not paying for your TV licence.

"Criminal penalties are an important part of the justice system.

"However, in a just and democratic society it is essential that these penalties are appropriate and are perceived as a fair punishment for the crime committed."

Acknowledging that only five years had passed since David Perry QC conducted an earlier review into TV Licence Enforcement, Baroness Morgan said that recent changes to the over-75 TV licence meant that a generation of pensioners would now be liable for criminal prosecution if they failed to buy a TV licence.

She also highlighted the rapidly evolving media landscape, in particular the sharp increase in non-linear viewing habits and move away from conventional television services.

"There remain legitimate concerns that the criminal sanction for TV licence fee evasion is unfair and disproportionate", Baroness Morgan added.

"So we believe that it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction is still appropriate."

The eight-week consultation is seeking opinions on whether TV licence fee evasion should be decriminalised. It is estimated that the BBC would lose up to £200m in licence fee revenue, should decriminalisation go ahead. The consultation is also seeking views on how this funding gap could be plugged.

Baroness Morgan indicated that decriminalisation could happen as soon as 2022, with further (hopefully more radical) reforms of the TV licence fee possible at the end of the BBC's current Royal Charter on 31st December 2027.

In closing we should also remind readers that Baroness Morgan is only a temporary incumbent as Culture Secretary. It is widely expected that the Prime Minister will appoint a BBC-critical replacement at the next Cabinet reshuffle.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please everyone who has suffered at the hands of TVL take time to go to the BBC licence fee decriminalisation consultation and complete the survey, it's easy and quick and just might make a difference if enough of us do just that.