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Paying for your TV Licence is set to change forever thanks to landmark review

Paying for your TV Licence is set to change forever thanks to landmark review

Things could change forever in just three years time

With there being less than two weeks to go until the BBC TV Licence fee faces its first price rise in three years, a landmark review in paying the fee in the first place has taken one major step forward.

The TV Licence is one that consistently divides opinion, with it currently costing more per month than a subscription to Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video.

A Netflix plan with ads will set you back £4.99 a month, with the premium package putting you back £10.99. Prime Video is £5.99 or £8.99 if you want Amazon's Prime delivery in with it.

In comparison, the TV Licence is currently £159 a year, which works out at £13.25 every month.

And in depressing news, it's only going to get more expensive from the beginning of April. From then, it'll be upped to £169.50 every year. That's just over £14 a month.

But could it be thrown to the wolves in just a matter of years? Quite possibly.

A thing called the 'BBC Funding Model Review' is set to begin very soon after this week (21 March), an expert panel was finally decided upon.

A letter from TV Licensing.
Joe Giddens/PA Wire

What is the BBC Funding Model Review?

It is exactly what it says on the tin, really. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is set to re-evaluate the BBC TV Licence in its current format.

"The BBC is respected globally, and reaches hundreds of millions of people across the world every week," the DCMS says.

"The government wants the BBC to continue to succeed as a public service broadcaster long into the future, providing high quality public service content on a universal basis."

But why is the BBC Funding Model Review happening?

The government has become a little uncomfortable with the long-term future of the current model.

This has been heightened because of a fall in the number of people who are actually paying for a licence in the first place.

The DCMS says: "The broadcasting sector is evolving rapidly, and the public has much more choice about how, when, and where they access content. For example, reach and viewing of broadcast TV fell significantly in 2022, with weekly reach falling from 83% in 2021 to 79% in 2022, the largest ever annual drop.

"We are seeing an increasing number of households choosing not to hold a TV licence, with uptake of TV licences falling by around 1.7 million from its peak of nearly 26 million in 2017/18."

It adds: "The government wants the BBC to be supported by a funding model that is sustainable in the age of digital and on-demand media."

If you watch the iPlayer you must pay for a TV Licence.
Carl Court/Getty Images

What about prosecuting people for not paying for a TV Licence?

The BBC has previously issued warnings about what can happen to you if you don't pay for a TV Licence but watch media that requires you to have one.

Ultimately you can be hauled before a magistrates' court and fined up to £1,000 for not paying. TV Licensing has previously said this is a last resort and it prefers to deal with matters constructively.

But under the BBC Funding Model Review, the DCMS says the government 'sees enforcement by criminal sanctions under the current licence fee model as increasingly disproportionate in a modern public service broadcasting system'.

When could things change?

Not immediately. As it stands, the current BBC Charter period runs until 31 December 2027.

What the government wants to do is see what can be done from 2028 and beyond.

"The findings of this assessment will support the government to make an informed choice on whether to pursue and consult on potential alternative funding models at Charter Review," the DCMS says.

BBC Television Centre.
Getty Stock Images

Who is on the expert panel advising on the review?

The BBC Funding Model Review panel was decided on Thursday (21 March).

It is made up of nine independent voices who will provide their advice and expertise to the conversation over the next six months, with a report on the matter due by Autumn 2024.

The DCMS says those on the panel were 'selected based on their experience of the UK’s media industry and represent a broad range of views and interests, including on issues such as international relations and young audiences'.

The members of the Expert Panel are:

  • Martin Ivens
  • Sir Peter Bazalgette
  • Siobhan Kenny MBE
  • Dame Frances Cairncross DBE
  • David Elstein
  • Oli Hyatt
  • Helen Bower Easton CBE
  • Amber de Botton
  • Lorna Tilbian
The TV Licence funds the BBC.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

When do you need to pay for a BBC TV Licence?

If you just stream on-demand content (Channel 4 and ITVX are okay - but not the iPlayer) that was not recorded from live TV, you will not need one.

You will need to pay if you watch live TV as it airs, if you record live TV to watch later, and if you watch anything on the BBC iPlayer.

If you only use streaming platforms such as Netflix you'll also not pay to pay. But if you consume live content on them, such as the Premier League on Prime Video, you'll have to cough up.

Featured Image Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Carl Court/Getty Images

Topics: BBC, TV, TV and Film, UK News, Money, Politics, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sport