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Decriminalisation of the license fee up for debate suggests Tory Minister

Peter Kelly
Feb 6, 2020


Non-payment of the BBC license fee could be decriminalised and instead become a civil offence in the future claimed Baroness Morgan.

Speaking about the potential policy move, Kelvin Mackenzie of A Spokesman Said has called for a campaign to cease the payment even sooner.

"We're starting a campaign - 'can't pay? Cart me away!'

"See how long the BBC survives when they start jailing old dears. It's over for the license fee!"

Listen to Kelvin Mackenzie on Love Sport Radio for all the current talking points, weekdays 10AM-12PM. 

Speaking at Policy Exchange, Baroness Morgan announced the launch of an eight-week consultation which is to debate whether criminal sanctions for not paying the fee should be scrapped.

Morgan highlighted the importance of the publicly-funded BBC: "And, let’s not also forget, public service broadcasting plays a key role in driving the success of our creative industries."

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On the issue of how the BBC will be funded and whether non-payment will remain a criminal offence, Morgan added: "And as we move into an increasingly digital age, where there are more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, it is clear that many people consider it an anachronism that you can be imprisoned effectively for not paying for your TV Licence.

"Criminal penalties are an important part of the justice system.

"However, in a just and democratic society it is essential that these penalties are appropriate and are perceived as a fair punishment for the crime committed.

"The Government is aware that there can be some confusion over which activities require a TV licence, while enforcement approaches can appear heavy-handed."

"This consultation will seek views on whether the Government should replace the criminal sanction with an alternative civil enforcement scheme."

The license fee "will remain in place for this Charter period, which ends in December 2027", Morgan explained yesterday at the event. 

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Speaking to the Radio 4 Today Programme John Whittingdale, The MP for Maldon, stated that the possibility of getting a criminal conviction for not paying: "is something which a lot of people feel is wrong. That is why it is sensible to look at it again." 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during the recent election in 2019, was asked whether he would scrap the license fee and the Tory leader suggested the decriminalisation of non-payment needed "looking at".

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