The government could vote to scrap the TV licence this week as they take to parliament to debate how the BBC is funded in future.
A group of 50 Conservative MPs are supporting backbencher Andrew Bridgen’s appeal to culture secretary Sajid Javid to scrap the fee in its current form.
The proposals see the licence being replaced with an opt-in subscription which will ostensibly allowing families on lower incomes to pay on a more flexible basis.
The BBC’s funding structure is unsustainable and out of touch with the modern media environment, according to the MP for North West Leicestershire.
Bridgen said: “The corporation should be planning for a future without the licence fee and investigating subscription-based payment options, as well as the wealth of further opportunities that exist for its worldwide operation.”
Last year the BBC earned in £3.7 billion from licence fee payers while advertising from international broadcasts put the company’s total revenues up to £5 billion.
The BBC said in a statement: “At just £2.80 a week the BBC Licence Fee is excellent value for money – only this weekend newspapers have been reporting the rising costs of subscription services.
“It’s vital that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match of the Day can be watched by everyone – not a select few; and support for the Licence Fee has actually risen by 22 per cent since 2004 and remains the most popular way of funding the BBC.”
You can currently choose to pay for the licence fee up on a quarterly, monthly or weekly basis as well as annually. If you don’t want to pay it you can even legally opt out and still continue to access catch-up content from the BBC iPlayer.
Suggestions of decriminalising the licence fee have been circulating for some time, with Javid pushing for those who decide not to pay it being pursued by bailiffs rather than the possibility of a court appearance.
Despite the launch of a review into decriminalising non-payment, it’s looking increasingly likely that licence fee will become a key election issue for the Conservatives next year. However, nothing will change until the policy is formally reviewed after the election.