BBC Trust to review licence fee collection

The BBC Trust is today launching a public consultation as part of a wide-ranging review into how the licence fee is collected.

The Trust is responsible for overseeing the licence fee collection arrangements, put in place by BBC management, and ensuring they are “efficient, appropriate and proportionate”. This is a new responsibility for the BBC’s governing body which is stated in the Royal Charter for the first time.

Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, said: “It is use of a television, or other television receiving equipment, which dictates the need for a television licence, but the purpose of the licence fee is to pay for all BBC domestic services – on television, radio and online. For the BBC to meet its remit, and deliver the quality programmes and services the public rightly expects, it is essential it collects the funding needed.

“he BBC has a duty to be efficient in collecting the licence fee and to keep evasion rates as low as possible so that those people who pay are not disadvantaged by those who do not. This is an issue which arouses strong emotions, because the right balance needs to be struck between ensuring compliance with the law and avoiding any disproportionate heavy-handedness.

“On behalf of licence fee payers, the Trust will consider whether that balance is being struck through the processes used to collect the licence and, if there is room for improvements, we will ensure they are made.”

The Trusts review will consider areas such as:

– The range of payment methods available to licence fee payers and whether it is clear to people when a TV licence is needed
– The tone of the marketing and advertising about the TV licence
– The enforcement methods used by TV Licensing, including letters, visits and detection.

The public consultation starts today (Monday 8 September) and closes on Friday 28 November.

The Trust will analyse all the evidence it collects and expects to publish its report next spring, once it reaches its final conclusions.

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