U.K. government hinted on Wednesday that the annual BBC licence fee on Britain’s television-watching households could be scrapped after the next review of its royal charter, as crunch funding talks with the broadcaster near.
The possibility of losing guaranteed licence fee money comes at a time when the 100-year-old BBC is under attack on several fronts ranging from accusations of extravagant spending to political bias. “The licence fee will remain in place this charter period which ends in December 2027, however we must all be open-minded about the future of the licence fee beyond this point,” said Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan.
“These are not easy issues and they will require some honest and at times difficult conversations,” she added.
Anyone who installs or uses a television or watches the BBC’s streaming and catchup service iPlayer must pay the 154.50-pound ($198) charge or be guilty of a criminal offence, resulting in a fine of as much as 1,000 pounds. Failure to pay can lead to a criminal conviction.
The government has started a public consultation on whether non-payment should be decriminalised.