NEWLY RE-ELECTED PROTO-PATRICK MOORE Boris Johnson has wasted no time by declaring war on our beloved Auntie Beeb.
According to Rishi Sunak, one of the PM's Treasury bods, Johnson has begun a full review of the BBC TV Licence - not the charge itself, but the punishment for not having one.
The current rules state that the licence is payable by anyone with a television, regardless of whether or not they actually use the BBC's services. Failure to get one can lead to fines of £1,000 and even imprisonment.
Johnson wants to investigate the effect of decriminalising non-payment of the £154.50 annual fee, in part as a backdoor to the BBC's refusal to back down on free licences for the over-75s, which is no longer paid by the Treasury, with the BBC adamant that funding it themselves would mean decimating its services.
In the event, the BBC believes that non-payment would cost it £200m per year - less than funding free licences, but significant enough to mean some cuts.
One suggestion is that the non-payment fine is transferred to civil law, meaning it would still be charged, but wouldn't lead to a criminal record or custodial sentence - much like parking tickets do now.
However, there's an increasing part of the industry questioning if the BBC should switch to a subscription model instead, as it has already dabbled in with the launch of Britbox, though that would cause some issues with its status as the national broadcaster.
The BBC has said that it doesn't agree with the move. Speaking to the BBC, the BBC said (woah, inception or wot): "The government has already commissioned a QC to take an in-depth look at this matter and he found that 'the current system of criminal deterrence and prosecution should be maintained' and that it is fair and value for money to licence-fee payers,"
Any major change to the BBC's funding model wouldn't take place until after 2027 when its Royal Charter comes up for review, but decriminalisation could, if approved, happen during this Parliament. μ
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