MORE than 100,000 people have signed a petition to abolish the BBC’s controversial licence fee – initiating a debate in Parliament later this year.
On Thursday morning, 109,751 signatures had signed the petition, forcing Parliament to announce their intentions to debate the fee on May 8 later this year.
The furious fee-payers claim it is “expensive enough” to own a television without worrying about the payments which are not a “legal requirement”.
Their statement on the petition’s website said: “I believe the TV licence should be abolished, removed and not a legal requirement. It should be included through your provider for free. TV is expensive enough without the added extra worry of £130+ A year.”
In a quick response to the petition passing the 100,000 mark an official statement from the Government read: “Throughout the Charter Review, the Government considered the question of funding the BBC’s services, and decided that the licence fee system will be maintained for the coming Charter period.
“In maintaining the licence fee model, the Government is clear that the licence fee remains a licence to watch or receive television programmes, and is not a fee for BBC services – although licence fee revenue is used to fund the BBC and other public service objectives.”
But hidden within the lengthy statement, the Government said the fee, which has been frozen since 2010, is set to rise “with inflation for the next five years”.
The MPs debate on the fee comes a week after it was revealed that the BBC were considering tactics to pressure the elderly to “voluntarily” towards their free licence fee.
Speaking at the Media and Telecoms 2017 Conference, deputy director general Anne Bulford said “voluntary” payments were an option under consideration
Andrew Allison, head of campaigns for The Freedom Association which runs the “Axe the TV Tax” campaign, said: “Although a debate in Parliament on the future of the licence fee is welcome as it keeps the issue alive, it won’t make any practical difference. The Government has already agreed a new Royal Charter with the BBC.
“What will be interesting, though, is to find out how many of the current crop of MPs are opposed to it. We hope to work with them to make sure at the end of this Charter period, the telly tax becomes a relic of the past.”