The UK government is now considering decriminalizing license fee evasion. This means that defaulting on paying a fee for watching live TV can no longer be taken to the court and criminalized. They shall only be served with a penalty notice. The BBC, however, doesn’t seem to welcome this approach.
Simply put, the TV license in the UK is paid to the BBC for accessing its channels, radio, and other content.
While there’s so much more choice available on the free market these days, and viewers and listeners are increasingly shunning BBC content for better alternatives, the BBC isn’t happy about losing market share.
According to the BBC, decriminalizing license fee evasion could end up costing the UK government a whopping £1billion over five years, alongside leading to a huge cut in the number of programs.
It also laughably proposed an alternative solution which asked the government to consider making the license fee a surcharge on household bills instead.
The said surcharge bill could be imposed on either monthly or a quarterly basis, making it hard for people to evade paying the bill. “In some countries the TV license, or equivalent, is linked directly to an existing common household bill,” said the BBC.
“For example, it is collected through electricity bills in Italy and the equivalent of council tax bills in France. Another option to consider as the UK progresses towards universal access could be broadband bills.”
The BBC also pointed out that the penalty notice system proposed by the government would end up negatively affecting the low-income groups.
As the new punishment system will require bailiffs to chase after defaulters for payments, it would involve county court judgements that often affect the credit ratings of the defaulters.
An independent research that was commissioned by the BBC also revealed that the new system proposed by the UK government may end up increasing the total number of defaulters overall. The research predicts that the level of evasion rates will increase from 6.6% to 10% upon decriminalization.
“Evasion would rise as people would think the failure to buy a license less serious,” said the BBC.
As the coronavirus pandemic is in full swing, TV license officers are no thankfully longer able to visit homes or hand out letters and notices.