Bectu slams consultation into decriminalising BBC licence fee

5 February 2020

A public consultation into whether non-payment of the BBC licence fee should be decriminalised has been heavily criticised by Bectu.

BBC Broadcasting House, London

The department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be considering options about how to enforce the licence fee rather than through the courts once the consultation has been concluded.

The review will be the second one in five years and follows on from the TV Licence Fee Enforcement Review conducted by David Perry QC in 2015. Perry’s wide ranging review produced a comprehensive report concluding that the current arrangements should remain in place.

The report went on to explain why any other alternative arrangements would be worse for everybody concerned. This conclusion was accepted by the coalition government within the previous charter renewal.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “This consultation is a complete waste of time and money and is extremely misleading. The government is giving a false impression that by decriminalising the licence fee people can choose whether or not they can pay. However, that is not the case and non-payment could still lead to prosecution.

“The current system is the best approach as it is relatively light touch, people are not left with a criminal record and Ministry of Justice resources are used appropriately in relation to the seriousness of the offence.

“To waste time and taxpayers money on a question that was so comprehensively, conclusively and recently settled makes no sense. It appears it is wholly motivated by the current government’s apparent obsession with undermining the BBC at every opportunity.”