Plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee are to be sped up, according to David Cameron’s spokesperson.
The Conservative party, which pledged to keep the TV Licence at £145.50 a year in its election manifesto, will push ahead to review how the BBC raises funds from the public ahead of next year’s charter review.
Currently, it’s illegal to watch live TV on any device capable of doing so without a licence. Failing to pay fine can result in court summons and in extreme cases, a prison sentence.
Despite a review on decriminalising non-payment being put on hold until 2017, the government is now keen on moving the debate forwards.
Related: How to save £8,000 by never paying for the TV Licence and Five licence fee myths bustedThis news arrives after a Cabinet reshuffle that sees John Whittingdale – who has previously called for the licence fee to be scrapped – appointed as culture secretary.
Earlier this year the MP for Maldon chaired a cross party Culture, Media and Sport committee that called for the licence fee to be replaced with a mandatory tax, similar to how revenue for public TV is collected in Germany.
The Rundfunkbeitrag (‘Broadcasting Post’) model is something that the Green Party is also in favour of.
This could have the effect of immediately collecting money for the BBC, which would side-step the issue of the TV Licensing body having to identify, chase down and fine non-payers.
It’s unclear whether or not Whittingdale will follow the recommendations of the February committee or whether, like fellow Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, he will call for the replacement of the licence fee with an opt-in subscription.