James Miller - Reverse TV Licence

In the United Kindom we pay a licence for television. Currently in 2003, it is  116.

The BBC's charter is also up for renewal in the next couple of years and there is a lot of pressure to abolish the licence fee.

I believe that revenue can be maximised for the BBC, evasion can be reduced to a minimum and the funding can generally be made much more efficent and a lot fairer by using what I would call a 'Reverse TV Licence'.

Lets look at a few facts :-

  1. Most households in the UK now have a colour television.

  2. Collection of the licence fee is not a trivial low-cost process.

  3. Finding and prosecuting non-payers is an expensive business and may result in imprisoning those who can't pay the fines levied.

So how would a 'Reverse TV Licence' work :-

  1. The Government and the BBC would agree the licence fee in the same way as they do now.

  2. The Government would pay the BBC the appropriate fee based on the number of households calculated from the Council Tax or Electoral Role returns.

  3. Income taxes, pensions and benefits would then be adjusted directly to recoup the money. This could be done in any way the Governent felt fit. Pensioners could be easily made exempt by not adjusting pensions for example.

  4. Those that did not have a set would be able to reclaim the licence fee from the BBC by filling in a simple form and submitting to visits from detector vans.

  5. Businesses and others such as care homes, might still pay under the old system.

This may or may not be a perfect system, but the 'Reverse TV Licence' does offer a simpler way of collection, which may mean that it causes less distress to those who end up in the Courts because they can't pay.

James Miller
August 2003