We are campaigning to abolish the UK TV licence fee and move the BBC to a different funding model such as subscription.
While we welcome a review into decriminalising non-payment of the TV licence fee, this does not alter the fundamentals that the fee will still apply. The BBC will most likely pursue avoidance through the civil courts, which may prove more costly for citizens found at fault. The current compulsory TV licence is unfair on three significant groups:
– Households which don’t watch BBC output, choosing instead to watch other TV channels live or online, but are still required to pay for the BBC. A clear consumer rights issue.
– Citizens who fundamentally disagree with the BBC political stance on important topics, but are still required to fund such output. This is a matter of democratic freedom.
– Pensioners and disadvantaged groups who struggle to pay the licence fee, although TV is their main source of entertainment and information. This is an injustice as non-payment is currently a criminal offence.
Campaign in more detail:
- Problems with the current TV licence
- What should be done
- But we like some BBC Output
- How to achieve campaign goals
- About Us
1. Problems with current TV licence
All TV consumers – regardless of their views – are required to fund the BBC via the mandatory TV licence, which is effectively a tax on UK households. This is unfair on the large proportion of citizens who use TV or online catch-up services for other channels, but choose not to watch BBC programmes and do not share the political perspective of the BBC.
From June 2020 pensioners over 75 who are not in receipt of pension credits will also have to pay for a TV licence, when it was previously free to this group. TV for many pensioners is their main form of entertainment and the TV licence fee is a significant amount for those on a tight budget. As they gradually become less mobile and more isolated, the TV often becomes their main window on the world. We believe all pensioners regardless of age should be able to watch licence free TV.
The BBC often behaves like a campaign organisation with a list of pet causes it actively supports, while simultaneously ignoring or briefing against the opposing viewpoint. As a large employer of journalists with the biggest media footprint, the BBC excerpts a gravitational pull on all UK media. This concentration of power is potentially unhealthy in our democracy as it can promote its own agenda at the expense of other topics, suppress plurality of views and skew news coverage.
There have been numerous complaints of liberal-left bias present in BBC output, which for some people is counter to their values, political leaning, or experience in everyday life. Bias is most often detected in BBC news reports, current affairs and political coverage. It can be injected by means of repetition, omission, amplification, distortion and one-sided presentation of issues. However, it is also present in other forms of output such as drama or comedy via hidden messaging, scripting, mocking, characterisation and stereotyping.
Naturally people who are alert to this bias resent having their concerns ignored and their views distorted, or being told they are wrong on issues they care about. It is unfair to be obliged to fund such output, while feeling it acts against your own interests or that of the nation.
2. What should be done
We are campaigning for Licence Free TV, aiming to abolish the current fee and move the BBC to a different funding model such as voluntary, subscription or commercial. Dating from 1946, the anachronistic TV licence is ripe for change, as there are now many more channels, platforms and content delivery mechanisms available. We believe that the UK citizen should be free to choose what type of broadcast output they wish to consume and therefore fund – as a basic right in a democratic society.
There is an additional moral issue of poorer, struggling and aged households having to pay £154.50 into a non-essential organisation renowned for its high pay scales, lavish bonuses and big payoffs. No other form of consumer product or service fee is extracted from the citizen in this way, with the ultimate threat of prison for non-payment.
If you agree please take a moment to sign our Petition and then two minutes to complete our Survey to record your views on the BBC.
3. But we like some BBC output
We understand and share this view that some of the BBC output is of high quality, educational and family friendly. For example, much of the science or natural history output hosted by Prof. Brian Cox, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili or Sir David Attenborough.
However, similar quality programmes are now available on other channels and they can be made by independent production companies. Plus we believe such quality output could continue with a smaller focused BBC operating under a different funding model. Or a re-vamped BBC could make this type of quality programming its commercial niche. If necessary, other popular programmes can be moved or sold to other TV channels and still continue, as already demonstrated by the move of ‘Bake Off’ from BBC to Channel 4 in 2017.
In general, the consequence of scrapping the TV licence for the BBC organisation itself are outside the scope of this campaign. We approach this issue from the perspective of the consumer and the good of the nation – not from the perspective of a single favoured provider. We understand that the BBC will probably have to shrink and change to accommodate a different level and source of income. This will put it on the same level playing field as all other existing UK broadcasters who still manage to survive. The overriding moral issue and imperative is that the consumer should be free to choose.
4. How to achieve campaign goals
- A mass citizen movement is forming around this campaign and we will secure a large 250,000+ Petition.
- We have a quick Survey so supporters can register their views on the BBC, their preferred solution and desired output from a revamped national broadcaster.
- A wider eco-system of interested parties is clustering around this campaign including like-minded journalists, institutions, media organisations and consumer groups.
- Such people power can be harnessed to provide moral authority to lobby and work with the government for change. There is already the appetite for change among several Conservative MPs. However with so many other pressing issues and the prospect of a fight back from the powerful corporation, it would be an easy issue for the government to defer. Working in concert, we can add additional support and traction to help push it over the line into formal policy and legislation.
- In addition we will consider two forms of direct legal action in support of our campaign for which we will legal advice:
- To help defend the next worthy victim at risk of jail for non-payment of TV Licence; such as a pensioner or single mother in the hope of setting a legal precedent for non-payment, or at least helping ease their predicament.
- Launch a major legal challenge to the near monopoly dominance of the BBC in certain areas of UK media and the enforced TV tax operating counter to our natural citizen rights and consumer freedom.
5. About Us
The Campaign for Licence Free TV is founded by a group of moderate to conservative leaning British citizens with the support of journalists, relevant institutions and politicians. We are concerned about consumer rights and freedom of choice, balanced and accurate reporting and allowing a plurality of political, social and cultural views to be expressed unhindered – for a healthy democracy.
We are a single-issue focused citizen campaign group with no other affiliations, media interests or political ambitions outside of this key aim. We only associate with mainstream UK organisations and exclude extremists or foreign influence.
The organisation is registered in England and Wales as not-for-profit and limited by guarantee under the abbreviated name of CLFTV. Number 12369937.
Please take a moment to sign our Petition and then take two minutes to complete our quick ten question Survey to capture your views on the BBC. The answers are anonymous and the distilled results of the survey will greatly assist by giving weight to our campaign, particularly in discussion with government. Please also inform your like-minded contacts about the campaign.