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Poll: 61% want to scrap BBC licence fee

February 24, 2020

By Colin Mann

A poll carried out for UK newspaper the Sunday Express has revealed that 61 per cent of respondents want the BBC licence fee abolished. It also found people believe the BBC does not provide value for money and are increasingly switching to rivals.

While 63 per cent agree the BBC is “an important part of British culture”, the findings of the survey of 2,005 adults from around Britain have shown public opinion has largely turned against its main source of funding.

The survey found 50 per cent do not think the BBC gives value for money while only 29 per cent think it does.

Publication of the findings comes as the government is consulting on plans to decriminalise avoidance of the licence fee and has floated the possibility of transfering funding to a subscription model.

The poll also revealed deep opposition to BBC plans to stop paying for licence fees for the over-75s, with 79 per cent saying the Beeb should foot the bill.

But while people are unhappy with the £154.50 annual fee they are not in favour of a subscription model with only 34 per cent in favour and 36 per cent against.

The poll also reveals viewers in the UK now prefer watching alternatives like Netflix and Amazon Prime to the BBC by 42 per cent to 31. This rose to 68 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds.

Only 29 per cent of all those polled agreed the BBC has better quality coverage than its rivals, with 36 per cent disagreeing.

Meanwhile, 44 per cent disagreed that the BBC should be treated differently to other channels while only 28 per cent agreed.

The recently-elected chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Julian Knight, has suggested the new committee will discuss an inquiry into the BBC and public sector broadcasting, has taken the ComRes Sunday Express polling as the first submission for his inquiry.

He said: “This is really important research as so often the public, the employers of politicians and the BBC, get missed from debates about the national broadcaster.

“I will take this poll on board as the select committee considers the future direction of all public service broadcasters.

“I want to see at long last an honest conversation about what we want to see on our screens and how ultimately it will be paid for. This poll shows there is a disconnect between those lobbying for the BBC and the great British public.

“Clearly there is a good deal of discontent. It would be in the BBC’s interests to have a proper open conversation about its role and future.”

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Certain media outlets and politicians have been running a campaign against the BBC and the licence fee for some time and people give different answers to surveys when relevant context is given to the questions.

“This poll appears to have asked people whether they’d like the licence fee scrapped or reformed without explaining that it would mean losing programmes and services they love. The reality is that the BBC represents very good value for money.”

Summary Table

The BBC licence fee should be scrapped The BBC licence fee should be replaced by a subscription service The BBC licence fee is good value for money The BBC is an important part of British culture The BBC should be treated differently to other channels like ITV I prefer watching Sky, Netflix or Amazon than the BBC BBC coverage is better than that of Sky, Netflix or Amazon The BBC should continue to fund free TV licences for all over 75s BBC News coverage is too left-leaning, politically BBC News coverage is too right-leaning, politically
NET: Agree 61% 34% 29% 63% 28% 42% 29% 79% 22% 17%
NET: Disagree 19% 36% 50% 18% 44% 31% 36% 8% 29% 33%
Don’t know 6% 11% 4% 3% 6% 3% 10% 4% 16% 17%


Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Business, FTA, Funding, Pay TV, Policy, Regulation