All Sections

Licence Fee decriminalisation review to be published June 2015

A review into decriminalising non-payment of the TV licence has begun and is expected to be published in June 2015 – after the General Election. 

The review, announced by Sajid Javid, secretary of state for culture, media and sport aims to gather evidence on the effects of changing licence fee dodging to a civic offence instead of a criminal one. 

Currently non-payment can see you earn a criminal record and fined up to £1,000. 

Calling time on criminalising licence fee non-payment: Will this cost the BBC £200 million?
Calling time on criminalising licence fee non-payment: Will this cost the BBC £200 million?

Javid said: “I am pleased today to announce the publication of the Terms of Reference for the Review of Television Licence Enforcement. The Review will begin gathering evidence this autumn and will conclude by the end of June 2015.” 

In September, further details of the government’s plans to decriminalise licence fee non-payment were revealed. Terms of the licence fee, which has been frozen for the last six years by this government, could be changed so bailiffs would come calling instead of police officers. County Court Judgments could also be added to non-payers’ credit history. 

You can currently legally opt out of paying the licence fee and continue to access the BBC iPlayer, but other broadcasters have suggested that this should be ended. 

Channel 4 boss Lord Burns said in July: “This is the first big opportunity to move towards conditional access – no pay, no play – but they won’t even think about it because they think it is the first step towards subscription. They will not even think about it because they are so wedded to the licence fee.”

If you do decide not to pay the licence fee before the report is published next year, there are other ways you can watch TV.

Without a licence fee you’re legally allowed to watch DVDs, Blu-rays, play games or access catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and All 4 (4oD) on your TV, computer or mobile phone, but you’re not allowed to watch live TV and you’re required to notify TV Licensing that you’re opting out.