TV licence fee cancellations hit half a million as customers switch off BBC

Hundreds of thousands of people have cancelled their TV licence in the last year as more Britons turn to streaming services to avoid the hefty fee.

The latest BBC annual report showed that the number of people buying a TV licence fee had fallen by 500,000 to 24.3 million in the last year. This resulted in a decline in licence fee income from £3.8billion to £3.74billion.

After a two-year freeze, the BBC TV licence fee is set to increase again next April in line with September 2023’s inflation rate of 6.7 percent.

This will raise the already-pricey £159 annual fee by £10.65, bringing April 2024’s price up to £169.65 per year.

BBC bosses initially aimed for a £15 increase, but pressure from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging the broadcaster to be “realistic” during the cost of living crisis resulted in a slightly reduced raise.

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The move will be seen as a blow to the BBC following its recent plans to make £500million of savings in the face of high inflation and the two-year freeze on the fee.

The funds generated by the TV licence fee are said to support the creation of BBC programmes and services and those who watch TV live – as well as those who stream BBC iPlayer – must pay the annual cost.

The fee must be paid by those who watch live TV from any device, including laptops, PCs, tablets or phones.

Any households that evade the payment face an enforcement letter from TV Licencing, which operates the fee, to warn households to pay if they require one or face a fine.

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Those who are found to have streamed a programme live without a licence in the UK mainland could be fined up to £1,000, while those in Guernsey could face fines of up to £2,000, and in Jersey, £500.

When don’t you need a TV licence?

A TV licence is not needed for those who just watch catch-up TV (not including BBC iPlayer), as well as those who stick to streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and so on.

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The BBC largely attributes the decline in TV licence payers to the surge in the use of streaming services.

However, others say the TV licence is simply “outdated” and “unwanted”. Thousands of people recently called on the Government to abolish the licence fee altogether, with 15,864 signing an online petition.

But there are a few groups that could be eligible for a TV licence discount ranging from 50 percent to 100 percent. These include those who are severely blind, those over 75 years old who receive Pension Credit, and those residing in care homes.

People can read more about free TV licences and discounts here.

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