[Ed. – It’s contagious.]
Avoiding the payment of the BBC licence fee – a tax on every TV-owning household in Britain – could be decriminalised after the next general election following plans to tone down language in current legislation and hand powers to ministers to reclassify non-payment as a civil offence.
Around 180,000 people are brought before the British courts every year as the BBC attempts to enforce the payment of what is effectively a tax to shore up its position in the TV, radio and online markets. The BBC licence fee currently raises £3.5bn a year through this coercion – but Members of Parliament and government ministers now want to put a halt to the criminalisation of those who don’t pay.
Instead, authorities back civil penalties for the refusal of payment. Many even see this step as the first in a line of measures that could lead to the eventual scrapping of the licence fee in its entirety.