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08th Sep 2022

License fee must be ‘scrapped altogether’ – new Culture Secretary

Charlie Herbert

She has labelled the license fee an ‘unfair tax’

Liz Truss’ new culture secretary is firmly against the license fee, and has called for it to be “scrapped altogether.”

Michelle Donelan took over from Nadine Dorries on Tuesday as the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and it looks as if she will continue to take a tough stance on the national broadcaster.

Donelan was one of many who reacted with anger when the BBC announced it would be axing free licence fees for all those over the age of 75, breaking a commitment made by the broadcaster in 2016.

Writing for her local paper in 2019, Donelan said: “I was outraged by the BBC’s decision to revoke free TV licences for the over-75s.

“Personally, I think the licence fee is an unfair tax and should be scrapped altogether – but that is a different debate.

“The BBC have acted appallingly, and I am determined to do everything in my power to change their mind.”

She added: “The BBC are shirking their obligation to its older viewers, many of whom have been their most loyal viewers and have paid the full price for TV licences for years.”

The license fee is a payment that must be paid by each household by law if they wish to watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on any TV channel, watch or stream programmes live on any online TV service, or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

Money raised from the licence fee pays for BBC shows and services – including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps.

It is currently £159 a year.

In January this year, Boris Johnson’s government sparked fury when it announced its intentions to end the license fee.

The government said the next BBC license fee settlement would be “the last,” with Nadine Dorries confirming this on Twitter.

Under the plans, the government intended to keep the fee flat at £159 for a colour license until April 2024, likely resulting in the BBC having to make £2bn in savings.

The Conservatives would then introduce a new Royal Charter in 2027 giving them the opportunity to replace the mandatory charge altogether.

The likes of Gary Lineker, Armando Iannucci and Hugh Grant all lambasted the government for the plans.

Liz Truss’ government looks set to continue with these plans.

She said during her Tory leadership campaign that she would look to reform the BBC and wanted to look at decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee.

The now-Prime Minister told the Daily Mail last month: “What I’m very concerned about on the TV licence fee is how many women have ended up in prison for non-payment, a disproportionate number.

“I want to look at how we can make sure that we reform the TV licence fee, so we don’t end up with those punitive results.

“I’ll look at all the options. I do want to reform the way it works.”

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