Thank you for contacting me about the future of TV licences.
The way audiences consume content has shifted dramatically in recent years. As we move into an increasingly digital age, with more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, I believe the time has come to think carefully about how the BBC and public service broadcasting can stay relevant in the years ahead. A key part of this is considering whether the TV licence fee remains relevant in this changing media landscape.
Given that large numbers of young people do not regularly or at all engage with the BBC, many people consider it an anachronism that you can be imprisoned effectively for not paying for your TV licence. I welcome the fact that a consultation has been held on this issue and I understand that the Government's response stressed that the issue of decriminalisation will remain under active consideration while more work is undertaken to understand the impact of alternative enforcement schemes.
The consultation did not ask for views on any other changes to the TV licence, and is clear that decriminalisation of licence fee evasion would have an impact on BBC funding. I appreciate that the current licence fee arrangements are a core part of the BBC’s funding, so I am pleased that the Government has confirmed that negotiations for the next overall licence fee settlement for 2022 onwards have formally begun.
The BBC must ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in news or other content dealing with public policy or matters of political or industrial controversy. There is a body of informed and serious opinion that questions whether the BBC always lives up to that standard in its treatment of a number of major issues.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP