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Number of TV licences rise: Are people really cutting the BBC cord?

More people than ever are forking out for TV licences – despite TV ownership falling. 

The number of people paying for a television licence has risen to a record high, with 25.4 million UK premises now covered by a licence, an increase of roughly 80,000 between March 2013-14. 

At the same time, there’s been a drop in the number of homes claiming to own a TV. Figures from BARB suggest that half a million UK homeowners were either tearing up their TV licences or simply not watching content on a TV set anymore. 

It has been widely reported that the number of households claiming to not own or watch live TV has risen substantially, a recent report in the Sunday Times suggested that as many as 1,000 people a day were opting out of the licence fee, however revenue from the television licence has actually increased to around £3.1 billion. 

Related: Five myths about the BBC TV Licence bustedA spokesperson for TV Licensing told the Guardian that: “The number of TV licences in the UK continues to grow for several reasons. The overall number of UK households is rising. 

“Also, if households do not have a TV set but still watch live TV on any equipment, they will still need a licence. Finally, the UK also has one of the lowest evasion rates in Europe at between 5-6 per cent.” 

You can legally opt out of having to pay for a TV licence and continue to access services like BBC iPlayer, provided you watch catch-up content only.

The government wants to review the TV licence as it currently stands, with recently-appointed culture secretary John Whittingdale expected to call for its abolition. 

In the run up to the general election, the Conservatives, along with both UKIP and the Greens, spoke out against the licence in its current form and vowed to freeze the fee as it stands. Previously, an attempt was made by a group of MP’s, led by Conservative Andrew Bridgen, to make fee evasion a civil, rather than a criminal offence. The motion was halted in the House of Lords, with the help of Lord Grade, a former BBC chairman. 

Whittingdale, who has said that the licence fee is ‘actually worse than a poll tax’ chaired a cross-party committee earlier this year, which argued in favour of abolishing the licence fee in its current form and replacing it with a household levy. 


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