TV licence could be scrapped for Netflix-style subscription

TV licence could be scrapped for Netflix-style subscription when all viewers have access to superfast broadband, media minister says

  • BBC urged to scrap the fee amid accusations it doesn’t offer ‘value for money’
  • Media minister John Whittingdale admitted the BBC was ‘open to criticism’ 
  • Call to ‘revoke’ licence ‘using legislation’ signed by more than 110,000 people
  • Petition was triggered by the BBC’s decision to end free TV licences for over-75s

The increasingly ‘woke’ BBC should scrap the TV licence, Tory MPs demanded yesterday.

The broadcaster was urged to scrap the ‘obsolete’ fee amid accusations it does not offer ‘value for money’, with suggestions a subscription service like Netflix would be better.

Media minister John Whittingdale said the damage streaming services like Netflix were doing to the BBC’s audiences did ‘beg the question’ whether the licence fee model can continue.

But he suggested a Netflix-style model would only work when every household had superfast broadband.  

The broadcaster was urged to scrap the ‘obsolete’ fee amid accusations it does not offer ‘value for money’

Media minister John Whittingdale said the damage streaming services like Netflix were doing to the BBC’s audiences did ‘beg the question’ whether the licence fee model can continue

BBC ‘bullies’ spent £7m on fee threats 

The BBC sent out more than 26million ‘bullying’ letters at a cost of about £7million over ten months last year as the country battled the pandemic. 

Figures released under Freedom of Information rules show that between the start of March and the end of December last year, TV Licensing sent 26,499,693 letters to ‘unlicensed properties’.

On average it cost the licensing body 27p in postage to send ‘standard’ letters, figures show. 

This means the cost of posting these letters would be about £7million. The true cost, which also includes printing and other costs, is thought to be much higher but the BBC refused to reveal this amount.

The figures also show that for the last full financial year – 2019/20 – a total of 34.3million of these letters were sent out. This was up from 28.6million in 2016/17. 

An annual colour TV licence costs £157.50, but the charge is increasing to £159 from April 1. 

A TV Licensing spokesman said: ‘We have a responsibility to inform people of changes to their licence and what they are legally required to do if they are not licensed and letters are a cost effective way of doing this, generating more revenue than they cost to send.’

Mr Whittingdale admitted the BBC was ‘open to criticism’ and that there are ‘areas where clearly reform is needed’. 

He was speaking at a session of the petitions committee yesterday which held a session after a call to ‘revoke’ the TV licence ‘using legislation’ was signed by more than 110,000 people.

He told MPs: ‘The rollout of broadband is very fast, we will reach universal coverage, and there will come a time when it would be possible for us to move towards a full subscription service for everybody, but that time has not yet arrived.’ 

Tory MP Jonathan Gullis said the petition had been triggered by the BBC’s decision to end free TV licences for over-75s.

Mr Gullis, who said the broadcaster did not offer ‘value for money’, accused the corporation of pushing ‘out of touch views’ on to audiences, whilst it ‘continued to cave to the wokery on the left’ by censoring and removing shows.

He said that in a year when many struggled financially, the corporation had continued to pay ‘virtue signalling presenters’ like Gary Lineker a ‘sky-high fee’ and added the decision on over-75s had ‘disgusted’ people in his constituency.

He added: ‘The BBC has a duty to the people who it has let down and now we must carry out our duty for the people that we represent to provide justice in scrapping the licence fee and make way for real reform.’

Tory MP Gareth Bacon said the corporation had become ‘increasingly woke’ in attempt to ‘pander to social media’, citing attempts not to sing the lyrics to Land of Hope and Glory at the Proms as an example of programmes taking a ‘distorted world view’.

Another Tory MP, Ben Bradley, said the best thing for the BBC was to ‘set it free’ and make it ‘compete in the market’.

Brendan Clarke-Smith said the cost of the licence fee was ‘still a challenge for many’ and said he like to see a move to a ‘subscription-based model like Netflix’.

Mark Eastwood added in the age of subscription services the TV Licence was becoming ‘ever more obsolete’. 

The broadcaster was urged to scrap the ‘obsolete’ fee amid accusations it does not offer ‘value for money’, with suggestions a subscription service like Netflix would be better

But Labour MP Chris Bryant attacked those calling for it to be axed, saying the UK had the ‘best broadcasting mix in the world’ and it would be ‘daft to cut it to pieces’.

He added he was ‘furious’ about the ‘pretend debate’ about ‘wokery’.

The petition had suggested the TV licence is no longer ‘required’ as ‘many people no longer watch the BBC’, preferring to use ‘other media sources’.

It claimed the fee is an ‘unfair tax’ for those on low income, which sees people prosecuted for non-payment.

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