TV licence fee to be frozen for two years - here's all you need to know

 In a new settlement revealed today (17 January), households will be free from any increase to their £159 a year bill until 1 April 2024.

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TV licence fee to be frozen for two years - here's all you need to know


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  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,135
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    This is part of a broader announcement that the Licence Fee is now "end of life".   

    This was always the most optimistic timing (announce in 2022, ends in 2027) for the reform of the TV Licence, based on pre-existing agreements with the BBC.
  • Something to be aware of is if you are applying for your first licence (or renewing a lapsed licence), never apply in the last week of the month. They backdate it to the beginning of that month (even if, as in my case, you weren't a resident of the UK for most of that month).
    Wait till the 1st or 2nd of the month and start from that date.
  • There will be consequences far beyond the licence fee and the BBC. It will likely affect all free-to-air broadcasting as should the BBC go behind a paywall, it will have to be satellite, cable and online. This leaves an extensive transmitter network, electricity costs as well, without a significant chunk of funding and Arqiva who run the network are not a charity. The shortfall will be too much to bear for commercial broadcasters and they will follow the BBC behind a paywall or close. Freesat, which the BBC is part of, will likely close as well as the BBC sells off capacity on satellite to go predominately online and the commercial sector will follow them with Sky giving them lucrative golden handshakes to go behind their paywall on satellite and online.

    A precedence has already been set. When the BBC closed local radio services on AM, the commercial network followed suit because they were not prepared to pay the cost. Now expect that to be expanded to digital terrestrial, FM and DAB networks.

    Unlike America where closing PBS and NPR, their public service broadcasters, is far easier because the broadcasters are independent and own the transmitter masts that broadcast their services, ours are shared by all the broadcasters and run by Arqiva. The BBC as the main public service broadcaster with coverage requirements beyond the commercial broadcasters remit has to pay more for that coverage because electricity is not free and the masts require maintenance that has to be paid for.

    There is also the prospect of the mobile phone networks snapping at the heels of the terrestrial broadcasting network who would like the remaining UHF and VHF spectrum for future technology and expansion of their mobile phone networks.

    The same problem will happen if the BBC adopts advertising. A major chunk of funding disappears from the commercial sector to the BBC and cuts will have to be made or services go behind a paywall. It is likely we'll see more golden handshakes to take services behind a paywall.

    Even the proposed freeze will require painful choices that will have consequences for free-to-air platforms. A number of channels are due to close on Freeview in June as the space they are using is to be used by mobile phone networks for expansion. The BBC could close the half of the digital terrestrial television capacity the have and is currently used for the remaining HD channels and a few SD channels at the same time to save money in transmission costs and electricity, which would also affect ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Never mind the closure of a few TV and radio channels, the BBC will have to go beyond that to make the savings they need and it will affect the viability of digital terrestrial television plus analogue and digital terrestrial radio broadcasting.
  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,135
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    edited 19 January 2022 at 9:31PM
    Licence Fee enforcement is based on a legal contradiction taking place on the nation's doorsteps "every 6 seconds".   The contradiction is this:  TV Licensing require confession evidence to prosecute cases, but no one is required to even speak to TV Licensing.   In fact, there are important rights in place to enforce that.

    There are now over 4 million unlicensed households, and just 300 TV Licensing field staff to "visit" them.   So, a challenging logistical exercise and a legally challenging objective - something that will likely fail (or become prohibitively expensive) in due course.   There is no option but to reform it, and 2027 is an ideal time (being the next renewal date for the BBC's Charter).

    As for the support of the infrastructure - who controls the allocation of frequencies - is it the BBC, or is it OFCOM?

    Other than that, I think imagining the complete demise of the BBC is unduly pessimistic.   Imagining that if it did close that it wouldn't be replaced by other things is unrealistic. 
  • Other than that, I think imagining the complete demise of the BBC is unduly pessimistic.   Imagining that if it did close that it wouldn't be replaced by other things is unrealistic. 
    But it wouldn't be replaced by anything that offer us quite the same contribution to Britain.

    We all know this is a political deflection tactic on the part of the Tories, but hearing Michael Grade tear into it the other morning was sickening.
    No man is worth crawling on this earth.

    So much to read, so little time.
  • 4justice2
    4justice2 Posts: 517
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     I was hoping that Dorries would announce immediate removal of the BBC's enforcement powers. We have a system where the BBC is able to harass and threaten people who are not it's customers. BBC management know some of the current letters they send out are deliberately misleading and designed to frighten the more vulnerable. I know some people just ignore the letters, but I get really annoyed when a company I've told to stop pestering me does the same thing again......and again. The end of the compulsory licence can't come soon enough.......
  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,135
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    Other than that, I think imagining the complete demise of the BBC is unduly pessimistic.   Imagining that if it did close that it wouldn't be replaced by other things is unrealistic. 
    But it wouldn't be replaced by anything that offer us quite the same contribution to Britain.

    We all know this is a political deflection tactic on the part of the Tories, but hearing Michael Grade tear into it the other morning was sickening.
    The most likely outcome is a new funding system that supports a smaller or re-structured BBC going forward.  

    Unfortunately, not only is the government's gambit very predictable, but so are the claims of impending doom from the BBC and its supporters.   

    What did Grade say?
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