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Licence inquiry is an "ideologically-motivated act of sabotage" by government, says NUJ

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6 February 2020

The government has opened a consultation into whether to continue decriminalisation of evasion of the BBC TV licence, just five years after a similar inquiry, headed by David Perry QC, concluded the current regime represented  a “broadly fair and proportionate response” to the problem of evasion and provided good value for money for licence fee payers and taxpayers.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"This quick and dirty consultation over decriminalisation of the BBC licence fee is a deliberate and ideologically motivated act of sabotage on the part of the Tory government. It will undermine the core ethos of public service broadcasting and the principle of universality at a stroke. Likening the BBC to Netflix and raising Blockbuster video from the dead are meaningless red herrings that bear no comparison. Nor is this  anything to do with care for the tiny proportion of individuals who end up with fines for non-payment for a service that reaches 91 per cent of the British public every week. It’s about dismantling the BBC and its values as we know it, with no care for the catastrophic impact it will have on jobs and the breadth and quality of programming and journalism that emanates from the BBC. If there is to be a debate on whether the licence fee is the best model of funding, let’s have that, and explore credible alternatives that enable public service broadcasting to flourish. This consultation and the implementation of decriminalisation – which the next two months of going through the motions is designed to facilitate - will not achieve that, and nor is it intended to."

The consultation which ends at 17.00 on Wednesday 1 April will consider:

  • Would an alternative, non-criminal enforcement scheme be fairer and more proportional?
  • What the cost is and how difficult it would be to implement any alternative scheme?
  • What is the potential impact on licence fee payers, particularly the most vulnerable and those with protected characteristic?
  • And what is the overall impact on licence fee collection?

NUJ response to the DCMS consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion

Nicky Morgan's speech on the future of media and broadcasting

Tags: , bbc, tv licence, bbc licence, consultation, Netflix, David Perry, public service broadcasting