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Abolish the Television Licence

Comment 2nd July 2010

The TV licence is the archaic method of funding the BBC, but to implement it we have a separate data base of households, we have useless cases in the courts, we have an intrusive and bullying collection Agency which combines being inefficient and expensive with insensitivity. The system adds to queues in Post Offices, unnecessary transactions (TV stamps!) and is widely evaded.

Many elderly citizens are frightened by the multiple threatening letters sent to them by the collection agency, even after they have paid for their Licence.

All revenues are paid into the Consolidated Fund, which then pays them to the BBC – the whole collection and enforcement mechanism could be by-passed by funding the BBC from general taxation in the first place, along the lines of the Civil List, or by whatever method Parliament in debate decides upon.

Why does this matter?

The present TV licence is actually a form of taxation, and one of the most unprogressive taxes that we pay. It falls harder by far on those who need it the most – the old, the unemployed, the single parent at home. It is almost always people from these categories who end up being prosecuted for non-payment: those who can easily afford it simply pay it. If convicted of non-payment, what then? If they cannot afford the licence, then they cannot afford a fine, which is why humane magistrates often fine them less than the licence =, making the whole prosecution an expensive farce. And if the fine is not paid? Prison?

Let every citizen enjoy (or not enjoy) TV as a right, and fund the BBC by another method. The present system must be so expensive to administer it would probably finish up being cheaper, as well as non-intrusive.

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