Three-Quarters of Britons Want BBC Licence Fee Scrapped

  • Date: 29/12/19
  • Mail on Sunday

An overwhelming majority of Britons want the BBC licence fee scrapped, a new poll has shown, as the ex-Ofcom chairman called for a Netflix-style subscription model to replace it.

Three-quarters of people want the BBC (pictured) licence fee axed, with more than six in 10 backing Boris Johnson's plans to decriminalise payment
Three-quarters of people want the BBC (pictured) licence fee axed, with more than six in 10 backing Boris Johnson’s plans to decriminalise payment

Three-quarters of people want it axed, with more than six in 10 backing Boris Johnson’s plans to decriminalise payment of the £154.50 fee.

The Prime Minister has criticised the current enforcement regime which allows the corporation to prosecute non-payers.

The Public First poll of 1,000 people, published in the Sunday Telegraph, found 74 per cent supported abolishing the licence fee.

It indicated support for this was higher among younger people than older ones, with 78 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds favouring it, but just 64 per cent of those over 65.

A BBC spokesman said it ‘did not recognise the figures’, claiming Ipsos MORI found earlier this month the licence fee was the most popular option.

But Dame Patricia Hodgson, who was the chairman of Ofcom from 2014 to 2017, said it should change.

She said: ‘We should start to either freeze or reduce the licence fee to incentivise the BBC into using broadband technology for subscription top-ups, so we’re progressing to a new funding base after 2027.

‘It was undoubtedly the case that ITV News better reflected the range of what was going on in the nation.’

The BBC licence is stuck in place until 2027 due to a Royal Charter, but its level can be changed from 2022.

It comes after a Savanta/ComRes poll found on Friday ITV was more trusted than the BBC to deliver impartial news coverage.

A total of 67 per cent said the licence fee needed to be changed, compared to just 15 per cent who disagreed.

Asked who they trusted to deliver impartial and accurate news coverage, 73 per cent said ITV, compared to 69 per cent for BBC TV News and 39 per cent for Radio 5Live.

Almost half – 47 per cent – agreed the UK was ‘over-dependent on the BBC as a source of news’ while just one in four disagreed.

Andrew Hawkins, chairman of Savanta ComRes, said: ‘The changing patterns of news consumption make UK broadcasting look set to evolve massively over the next five to ten years.

‘The General Election showed that trust is at a premium but also that the BBC no longer has a monopoly on it.’

‘Somehow the broadcasters and regulators will need to find a way of enabling the sector to evolve while maintaining trust in the integrity of news delivery.’

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