Saturday 8 March 2014

Decriminalise the BBC licence fee!

There's a good deal of talk today about a cross-party initiative in parliament, now backed by some cabinet minister (including the Culture Secretary), which intends to change the law to stop classifying those who refuse to pay the BBC's TV licence fee as criminals. 

They want to turn it from a criminal offence into a civil matter. 

At the moment anyone convicted of the offence automatically gets a criminal record - and given the high number of convictions for this offence, that's resulting in huge numbers of people receiving a criminal record.

Those behind the parliamentary motion including Sir Menzies Campbell, Frank Dobson and David Davis. (Fancy Sir Ming backing such a proposal - after all the BBC's done for him over the years!)

Figures for the prosecution on non-payers remain startling. 

Some 70 people a year are sent to prison, and more than 180,000 people (around 3,500 a week) appeared in court in 2012, with 155,00 being convicted and fined (with fines of £1,000). The figures keep rising. 

The resultant pressure on the court system can only be imagined. 

Critics of the licence fee see it as a regressive poll tax (and it is a tax, officially classed as such since 2006) and are unhappy that it's women and the elderly who are mostly being sent to prison for non-payment. 

The BBC isn't happy, and are already dangling babies over the edge of windows and threatening to drop them:
“Legislation is a matter for the Government, however changing the law could lead to higher evasion. Just a 1 per cent increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around £35million, the equivalent of around 10 BBC Local Radio stations.”
(which is the quote the BBC News website has opted to highlight on its article about the story!)

Will enough MPs dare to offend the mighty BBC for this to ever happen? I do hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Just a 1% increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around £35m, the equivalent of around 10 BBC local radio stations”

    While they’re dangling that baby out of the window, someone should grab the baby that represents severance pay, salaries, taxis, air fares, etc., not to mention doomed computer systems and so on, and dangle that out of the opposite window in a gruesome Michael Jackson game of chicken.


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