More and more people refusing to pay for TV licence

TV licence While the BBC clearly has more output than the average broadcaster, that doesn't mean everyone has to like it.

Now, over 1,000 homes per day are getting rid of their TVs and not paying for their licence fee by watching shows on catch-up or on other subscription services. According to figures, over half a million households said that they no longer have television sets.

With people increasingly picking up tablets and other devices, that number is only likely to increase, with people opting out of paying for the licence fee by watching shows on catch-up. Obviously, the BBC would like to see all this locked-down, while others would like to see the BBC moving away from a compulsory licence, to a more modern voluntary subscription package.

A BBC spokesman said: "We've repeatedly said that the licence fee should be modernised to include people watching catch-up TV and we'll discuss the best way of doing this as we approach the renewal of our charter."

If you watch things on iPlayer, all you get is a very polite: 'Don't forget, to watch TV online as it's being broadcast, you still need to be covered by a TV Licence.'

There's a feeling among many that, if the BBC thinks it is good enough, then it will be confident that it could survive with a similar subscription package to Sky or Netflix.

Channel 5's former chief executive David Elstein reckons: "More and more people are going to twig that if they dispose of their fixed television and watch on a phone, tablet or laptop, the BBC will no longer chase them [for the licence fee]. That 1,000 a day will turn into 2,000 a day. Why would you pay £145.50 a year if you don't have to?"

Indeed, some people plain refuse, and the BBC agree that the whole idea of a licence needs updating. Are we seeing the end of the licence fee as we know it?


  • Janice b.
    Yes it's outdated it needs scrapped altogether.
  • jane b.
    There is sod all worth watching through bbc...pisses me off paying for a crap bunch of channels i don't watch, just so I can watch the others. Get rid of it and stick some adverts in between programmes like everyone else!
  • Han S.
    In Germany (and many other countrys) you have to pay a TV tax regardless of whether you own a TV or not, if we scrap the licence fee that's all that will happen. We'll still have to pay it one way or another
  • Noghar
    People never seem to understand what fantastic value for money the BBC is; along with the tv channels there's all the radio channels, the news, the websites etc. Dump the licence fee and the subscription might well turn out to be a lot more than people expect or can afford. But the battle's more than half-lost anyway as the last few governments have been determined to screw the BBC every way they can, by bringing in idiotic and wasteful internal markets and forcing them to move from a brilliantly designed HQ in London to a hopeless dump in Salford (Note when Rupert Murdoch was building his new Sky HQ he didn't build it in fecking Lancashire) and the spineless BBC bosses have let them. Mind you the government will still end up subsidising the BBC World Service at least because it's the most concrete part of the British Empire left, and exercises an influence on world opinion way beyond its stature...
  • bingus
    the bbc only create dumbed down rubbish these days the licence fee should be abolished. Ive not paid for it for many years get everything from blu-rays and netflix. that £145 can go quite far when its not being wasted away with the bbc's institutional greed and waste.
  • Cheesey
    @Noghar: I rarely watch TV, I hate Radio 1, I'm not old enough for Radio 2-4. If anything I prefer commercial radio. So the ideal solution for everyone is for YOU to pay for it?!
  • bill
    If you don't own one TV licensing harass you every 6 months anyway, and scaremonger you. Now THATS a practice that should be abolished. More and more people arent bothering to tune in at all these days. If some people choose to watch TV let them pay for a license, and up the fee for them if you have to. But don't press others into getting one who aren't interested.
  • Jessie J.
    @Noghar The BBC make millions from selling everything through BBC Worldwide. Add to that the fact that people feel like they have been paying towards a pedo ring for years and the BBC are fucked. Take on adverts and get over it. Wear my hat low, like you.
  • bob
    I prefer to watch adverts then watch anything on else am I gonna sing along to an Iceland jingle
  • Dave
    The problem with tv licence reform is that the beeb will push for a levy on households based on council tax bands or individual income. They say that by having everyone contribute, and not having to enforce the licence, the fee would be reduced. In reality however, once they have have everyone being effectively forced to pay there well be little stopping them from increasing it year on year. I say either make it subscription based or scrap it completely and sell advertising space.
  • LD
    And wasting £100m in an aborted I.T. system? Equivalent to 689,655 licence fees. Oh and it was announced sneakily the Thursday before a Bank Holiday w/end - and so lost in the long grass in corporation speak.
  • TB
    It's wrong that we should have to pay a TV license, it's wrong that the powers that be at the time gave a non-representative or elected body the right to demand our money since 1923. The fact that it can also be a criminal offence is outrageous. Why the BBC cannot be subscription based or have adverts is beyond me. There is very little I watch on the BBC and I never listen to the radio. The sooner the BBC drags itself into the modern era, the better.
  • Don't a.
    I live in an old people home and just look out of the window. Will I have to upgrade to Windows 10 in June to keep watching Catch-up-TV?
  • Raggedy
    Those of you who claim you don't watch the BBC - it shows with your idiotic and moranic statements (allegedly). It's got nothing to do with what the BBC outputs, more to do with you wanting something for free and willing to be brainwashed with adverts. Noghar hits it right on the head here. Let's hope everyone uses Catch-Up online so it slows to a crawl and becomes unwatchable. :-)
  • Big M.
    I pay my licence fee. I consume very little BBC output and do not find the licence fee value for money. When it comes to the BBC why do people tell me how great value for money it is without accepting I consume so little of its output? I watch a little bit of sport broadcast by the BBC, listen to a small amount of Radio Four. I do use the BBC website on occasions but could live without it easily. I will even admit to watching 'The Apprentice' every series. But pound for pound for pound, hour for hour, do I find this good value? No. I think it's outrageous. 'Strictly' makes me want to punch the TV. 'Enders makes me suicidal. I share Stewart Lee's opinions on top gear. The BBC is a product. Not everyone wants to consume it. Look up the licence fee collecting goons on Youtube and still support the Beeb. That's before anyone mentioned the institutionalised kid-fucking!
  • No c.
    Any idiot that think that the TV licence is good value for money must be hanged! Good value for money is my super fast broadband for a tenner per month!
  • Rhi
    I can get both APIV and Netflix for a fiver more than the cost of a license. Now admittedly I've been on Netflix for yonks and get a preferred rate but still... you can get a lot for your money. I sometimes look at iplayer, but unless there's a series of Sherlock or Doctor Who I never find anything worth watching. And those are sold eventually to Netflix and Amazon where they stay for months and years on end unlike the blink and you miss it iplayer. If they had full archives it'd be worth twice the price (on subscription of course- I for one wouldn't dream of making others subsidise what I want) but they make too much money selling the rights to other broadcasters and selling overpriced blu rays to consumers. Some public service that is. Oh and Amazon delivers stuff quickly (theoretically) and lends me kindle books included in their price.
  • Bobbie T.
    The article is not correct. It is perfectly legal to watch catch up TV such as BBC iplayer on a television without a licence. The only thing you are not allowed to do is watch Live TV, as in watch it at the same time it is transmitted. No need to get rid of the TV.
  • mooch
    You are aware that iPlayer lets you watch LIVE TV aswell tho, Bobbie Tupper? Hence the author's comment. Maybe you're thinking iPlayer was just catch up. To confuse folk further, there is a site called which lets you watch LIVE TV (!).
  • brookstreetboyo
    Your chances of getting a knock on the door depends on where you live. Live in a tower block on a sink estate in Tottenham or Leicester, with piss in the lifts and attack dogs? You're fine, enjoy your free viewing. Live in comfortable suburbia with a Waitrose nearby? Expect the licence sales police to call in 3... 2... 1...
  • John
    "While the BBC clearly has more output than the average broadcaster" I seen far more content on the other "Public Service Broadcaster" which is FREE, Channel 4
  • Bob
    "Those of you who claim you don’t watch the BBC" I don't 'claim' to not watch the BBC. I don't watch ANY TV, live or otherwise. Why am I being harassed and threatened with court?
  • FooFan73
    @brookstreetboyo Utter codswallop! 10 years ago I actually worked as a TV License Inspector as a necessity when my son was born I worked in and around Portsmouth (Not a very nice city at all) and I can assure you we DID work on the council estates, tower blocks and undesirable areas Why? Because that's where you catch the most offenders TV License Inspectors are paid minimum wage but get a bonus if you successfully find 39 or more offenders a week and they are actually prosecuted (Basically if you get them bang to rights when taking an official statement under caution) Capital (who run TV licensing) get a commission per licence 'sold' and local councils get 100% of the fines given by the courts to licence evaders so Capita deliberately send the inspectors into areas of poverty and estates to catch as many people as possible If you're going to spout some sort of propaganda at least make sure you're talking the truth first
  • As B.
    @FooFan73 who states "If you’re going to spout some sort of propaganda at least make sure you’re talking the truth first". Your first paragraph states "10 years ago I actually worked as a TV License Inspector". No doubt you checked all the subsequent bull you posted is still relevant 10 years later?
  • dave
    it is time the bbc stopped and thought about subscription as tv license is false and not what the people need!
  • Raggedy
    Ah the above would be David Cameron surely? As he really knows what the people need and can speak for us without fear of criticism!
  • Craig
    Just a heads up people: You don't have to get rid of your TV. You can still watch catch up either through a streaming device (Chromecast or Playstation/xbox for example) on the big screen and you don't have to pay the license fee. I have been doing this for years and years. The benefit is that when my wife and I want to watch something on TV, we purposefully watch something; no lazy eyes glazed over watching of day time TV. You also have a spare £145 in your pocket every year... TIDY!
  • JohnDale M.
    What does Auntie Beeb do with the licence fee - pays the likes of Evans,Woss & (previously)Wogan absolute fortunes to be idiots,JD.
  • samuri
    Should not call it "Auntie" should call it "DIRTY UNCLE ERNIE"
  • Sheogorath
    David Elstein of Channel 5 is wrong if he thinks people need to get rid of their tellies to not pay the Beeb. For example, after deciding I didn't want to pay the TV Tax anymore, I simply deleted all the TV channels from the EPG of my Sony Bravia, and have used it to listen to the radio ever since, 100% legally Licence-free. @ samuri: Nice Who reference, but for a real life example, try Pete Townshend from that group.
  • dvdgremlin
    I don't understand why it is supposed to be good value for money. I watch Question Time on iplayer at a sensible time and used to watch Top Gear a day or two later. So how would one program be worth £145 ? Not everyone is an Eastenders watcher ! If they had live rugby union, Ice hockey, F1 and boxing maybe it would be worth it just about.
  • John
    The BBC is a load of crap showing Eastenders, Holby City and Strictly Come Dancing. Everyone pays for advertising when they purchase goods so why should we have to buy a licence. Close the BBC down or make everyone pay.
  • Helmut D.
    TV Licence goons have about as much authority as the milkman, just ignore them.
  • david
    The licence fee is not bad value but I would be happier if the BBC didn't pay such obscene salaries to so many people and waste so much money!
  • Mark W.
    OK I came up with a solution. Fund the BBC out of the VAT on TV sets, radios, Freeview boxes etc.
  • Argie
    I can't believe people watch what they watch, it's all tripe. Monday to sunday there are more repeats and adverts than I can wave a stick at. (No TV for over 10 years)
  • DanDiesel
    Since moving to my current address 3 years ago, I've received over 50 threat letters from the BBC, for not subscribing to their compulsory TV tax. My friends and family seem almost shocked that I refuse to pay, and always say things like 'what about the public service they provide' - (surely they don't consider politically biased news/current affairs programmes; endless propaganda about global warming, mass immigration and Left-wing ideology to be a public service? If the BBC wants to modernise itself, voluntary subscription should be the first step.
  • Father J.
    "OK I came up with a solution. Fund the BBC out of the VAT on TV sets, radios, Freeview boxes etc." Suits me, I've never bought a new one of any of these devices in my life. Never bought a TV licence either, come to that!
  • bob
    Never watch itv myself , do they broadcast anything except , soaps , reality programmes and jeremy kyle....
  • Don K.
    What's the BBC?
  • comecon
    It is ridiculous how much TV costs altogether. £145.50 to the BBC - I used to watch Top Gear but have no intention of watching it now - Amazon will be the place I go for that. Sherlock is great but there is only one short series every couple of years. The BBC website is my place to go for news, but I could easily go to another website - there is plenty of choices! BBC radio - I listen to the local radio or XFM. So £145.50 now gives me personally BBC website access - something I could easily change. Unfortunately I pay a stupid amount to Sky for adverts and repeats of repeats. On Demand is the main place to go there. I think once the contract is up it will be time to cancel the TV license...
  • steve
    Have not paid for seven years, fed up with their bullying letters, so called inspectors and propaganda dressed up as news, hope the whole corrupt edifice which is the BBC collapses soon.....
  • Paul
    Netflix and Amazon Prime together are cheaper then the TV Liscense and you also get free next day delivery with Amazon purchases. Plus there are no adverts on subscription TV. If you can wait 30 mins to watch the show after it has been broadcast - BBC iPlayer is great too!
  • DrugAddictFootyAddictWhatsTheDifferenceIfYouPayExcessively
    All the muppets slaggin-off the value for money of the BBC, well Sky is the alternative, and if you think they're more ethical than Paedo-protectors, you'd be wrong. Check their record (News Corporation's). Hacking, lying, propaganda-for-hire, deciding elections, etc. Also, check their media coverage of the Tory Paedophilia scandal (ongoing). Funny how that one was more serious as involving vulnerable young boys from care homes, rather than willing girls who happened to be over the age of puberty but under the age of consent (sorry but that is still less offensive in my eyes, and I've had to ponder what abuse is and how it occurs, quite a lot being a victim of it myself). Oh, and "Bloody Poms" - Rupert Murdoch. The alternative is more abusive products by Sky: like the £9.99 PER DAY FOR NON-HD SKY SPORTS ON NOW TV. That's the best they can do! Paying to watch adverts, too... A MUG'S GAME. But Murdoch knows he has Britain's football fans by the balls, so he can do what he like because they're so pathetically-addicted to TV-footy. LIKE A DRUG ADDICT IS (paying too much). (hint: can watch in person, can watch down the pub and have some atmosphere, be sociable, not anti-social whilst feeding a media monster).
  • Melanie
    Wake up and smell the brainwashing adverts people! I am happy to pay the license fee just for the children's channels. Which are the best quality in children's TV and don't brain wash my child into wanting foods I don't approve of, toys I don't approve of, being like the robot kids in the adverts with fixed smiles... etc. Commercial kids channels advertise programmes that air after 9pm. The watershed is non existent on many commercial channels now. Marketing is not natural and driven by people who want to pay their bills any way they can and not consider the consequences on the children. Maybe because they don't have kids yet and they've been taught, if in doubt, sex sells. Actually TV is not natural but at least CBBC/Cbeebies are as responsible as they can be for children. Lets forget the past and move on.
  • PIe M.
    BBC vs ITV vs Sky... it's all shite. Don't any of you potatoes know where the 'Off' switch is?
  • Fastscrap
    I pay for sky TV they charge me for line rental etc for broadband,and TV etc.I get all my services from them.Whether I watch live TV or not.My contract is with them not BBC.I watch bbc,but via Sk not terrestrial TV via an ariel.As far as I am concerned,case closed.
  • Pie M.
    ^^^^nobody's really this thick, are they?
  • Paula
    You lot won't know what you've got until it's gone and that will be a very sad day for Britain! I pay Sky £27 a month for lots more channels than the BBC give me and - although many programmes are good - I'm also paying for a ridiculous amount of rubbish that I would never want to watch. The BBC licence costs me £12 a month and I get a service that is in no way influenced by advertisers and is not primarily aimed at making money. I'm happy with that, despite the fact they also broadcast a lot of rubbish I don't want to watch. What I do get is the likes of David Attenborough, Sherlock, Doctor Who etc etc. - all uninterrupted by advertising. My children like to watch American kids' shows (most of which I hate) but I'm pleased they are also growing up with the wonderful CBeebies and CBBC which reflect our British culture and values. I trust the BBC to provide un-biased news and I love waking up to political debate from Radio 4's Today programme - the likes of which I can't imagine being provided by any organisation focusing entirely on profit and shareholder margins. I look at what's provided in America (take Fox News for example) and I shudder to think that we might be going down the same path! We have a thriving creative industry based in this country. The licence fee accounts for around 40 per cent of the investment in original British programmes. Each year, over £2 billion of licence-fee income is invested directly into the UK creative sector. Around half that money is invested outside of the BBC, with £450 million in small creative businesses. Sadly, over the past few years, the volume of new UK content broadcast each year outside News and Sport has gone down by around 13 per cent - that’s 2,000 hours down. In that time, Netflix and Amazon have produced only a few hundred hours of original content between them —across the world. Almost all of it made in the US - not the UK. ( The BBC is not perfect but I don't think scrapping the licence fee is going to make it better. It merely puts it in danger of becoming extinct. On that day all our broadcasters will have the same single goal, profit, profit, profit. Why would they bother about educating our children or giving fresh new talent a chance? It will all be about guaranteed viewing figures and making money. By then it will be too late to get back all that we will have lost.
  • Vapour
    Paula, so naive. The BBC does have goals to make money. It has various arms that are highly profitable. This money is largely reinvested into disgustingly huge salaries. Their news agenda is driven by the government, who are beholden to the same corporate interests as ITV Sky etc. Why do you think the content/tone is identical? I wouldn't trust CBBC as it is probably there to brainwash our kids. BBC is basically one giant propaganda machine. And it isn't just limited to this country. By funding BBC World service you are helping to brainwash the whole world's population. Also we might find out in 20 years time that half the current presenters are active child abusers. Most of those 'original british programmes' are awful and brain-numbing. "Grown-ups" "Citizen Khan" need i go on... Just think about it... you have to pay a TAX for the RIGHT to own a TV. If you don't, enforcers come knocking. Sounds like something out of DPRK.
  • Father J.
    "you have to pay a TAX for the RIGHT to own a TV." No, you don't. Though I wouldn't expect a man with a tinfoil hat as prominent as yours to actually know what they're talking about.
  • sid s.
    u only need a tv license if u watch live tv .. ie as it is being broadcast.. u can own a tv without a license
  • Mrwho

    Why should be pay for tv licence when the bbc employed pedofiles that have ruined hundreds of lifes because of the bbc. My aunt life was ruined because of the bbc !!! I wont pay tv license !! Or watch bbc 

  • Jack

    The BBC makes many more millions selling programs and using advertising abroad and makes more than enough to fund itself. Its outdated views and greed that is keeping it alive. 

    BBC programs are becoming more and more tedious and dull. Undoubtadly not every program, some documentories are outstanding but does not warrent the licence fee any more.

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