The TV Tax minefield

The British TV Licence is not a fee, it is a separate general TV tax on watching television programmes in this country. Other TV channels, that are partially subsidised by selling advertising spots, also benefits from the TV tax. The licence provides TV channels the means to not needing to advertise.

There are channels that can be watched without having a TV licence (Channel 4 is a not-for-profit TV channel which is funded by advertising). However, the difficulty lies with programmes that are being broadcast live. The TV tax applies regardless to what channel you are watching or what form of technology you watch the broadcast on (TV, Computer, Smartphone etc). If the channel is broadcasting a live programme or stream the tax applies.

Over the the last several years, and beyond, there have been issues with paying the TV tax. It is currently a criminal offence to watch television in a way that is deemed illegal, not having a licence. The different infringements are nothing more than a TV tax minefield that anyone can fall foul of, especially if you are not aware whether a programme is live or not, or if you are using certain online TV channel’s facilities.

Some countries around the world pay for their TV as part of an income tax, electricity usage etc. Some countries do have a TV tax but do not have a system to collect fines or even charge people.

Maybe it would be better for people in the UK if the TV tax was scrapped, or massively reduced. It could be replaced with a subscription payment for channels such as the BBC, who seem to be standing their ground on the TV tax and not showing advertisements, and therefore being heavily funded by the TV tax.

Recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been looking into decriminalising not paying TV tax fees. This could potentially mean that not paying the TV tax would not be classed as a criminal act, as it does not put public safety at risk (It still may be subject to a fine). For something as confusing and annoying as the TV tax, I look forward to seeing what potential, and simplified, fair improvements the Prime Minister and his government can make for the people of this country (The BBC managed an income of over 3 billion pounds recently, other TV channels considerably less – several hundreds of millions).


This post was written by Paul Hindmarch

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