1MILLION licence fee payers turn off their TV in protest at BBC budget cuts

1MILLION licence fee payers turn off their TV in protest at BBC budget cuts

Up to a million licence fee payers are thought to have switched off their televisions in the last year in protest at the Government's funding of the BBC.

The 200,000 sum, equivalent to 25 per cent of all television licence fee payers, appears to be a high estimate.

But it suggests that some home viewers are starting to question the public service broadcaster.

David Baddiel has told listeners he would like BBC to stop broadcasting politics

Prime Minister Theresa May this week said there are already signs that licence fee payers are tired of being asked to fund a 'costly and inefficient' universal service.

The funding crisis means the BBC is not able to have its own production companies which is leading to reports the Government is preparing to give the corporation a large annual subsidy.

The licence fee was set at £145.50 in 1998, but when price inflation is taken into account that has risen to £140.20.

The financial cost of the licence fee to the taxpayer is put at £4.5billion a year, with £3.3billion covered by digital switchover, which meant those that had to move to more expensive TV sets could now be charged.

Nearly all households received a digital TV licence - a shift which ensured that every household was able to watch the service as it was broadcast on the two main terrestrial channels.

But not everybody will have a licence and many will be involved in the digital decoder renaissance.

While the TV services have now been switched over to digital, around 6million households still have to provide the box to the TV. Around two million of these households are mobile and are not required to subscribe to their local TV.

At the end of last year, there were 16.9million licence fee payers in the UK, which was 10 per cent more than the 16.1million at the start of 2017.

But a Government investigation into the BBC suggests that 9 per cent are now not paying, meaning it could be as high as one million.

The Digital Economy Act says that the Government will reassess the funding of the BBC once the 'expected number of households with digital TVs and set-top boxes is known.'

The Government admitted the BBC can be a 'massive tax' that will push up the cost of other services as an alternative provider kicks in.

David Baddiel has told listeners he would like the BBC to 'stop broadcasting politics'.

In January, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire admitted that if a BBC licence fee was abolished, tax payers would lose out.

He said: 'I have no doubt that if the licence fee was removed there would be a range of ways that would emerge where the BBC might be able to deliver its services free of charge, but we need to be aware of what the impact might be on individuals who are not paying and don't benefit from the licence fee.'

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