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Licence fee replacements: broadcasting contribution via the Council tax?

Looking at the top three European replacements for the TV Licence, today we have a closer look at the French system.

Arche de la defense, Paris.    Photograph:
Arche de la defense, Paris. Photograph:
published on UK Free TV

Council Tax

You open the letter from your local council to find that it is notification of next year's charges.    Whilst making the claim that the tax has been frozen, you can't help notice that the amount you pay seems to have gone up.

Looking at the small print, you see a new line on the bills saying "Broadcasting contribution".

Inside the letter is an explanation: the TV Licence has been replaced with a new tax that is payable by all UK homes as an add-on to the Council Tax.

The letter says that the amount you pay depends on the "band" you pay your local tax.   It says the annual payment is:

Band A: £100, B: £117, C: £133, D: £150, E: £183, F: £216, G: £250 and H: £300.  

In addition to this, a 25% Single Person Discount can be claimed.   

It also says that if anyone in the household is over 75 years of age, they can claim the whole amount back as a rebate.    It says that the old TV Licence system should have passed this onto your new bill if this was the case.  

In addition – it says – that you can get a discount in the first year of operation for every month you have an old TV Licence.  As it turns out, your old one runs out at the end of March.

The leaflet also says that this is much easier for you, as you have one less direct debit to deal with each month. 


Business Rates

There is also an addition to the UK Business rates - at the rate of an extra 0.05p in the pound.   For example, a business with a rateable value of £252,500 pays a £126.25 Broadcasting Contribution.  A £1,500,000 rated value business premises pays £750 a Broadcasting Contribution. 

A large building, such as BBC Broadcasting House rated at £ 22,390,000 would contribute £11,195 a year.


Would this work?

The system would be very similar to the current one, but would have two distinct advantages.   The first is that it would rely on an existing, working collections system.  This would reduce the collection costs overall and be easier for the payer.    

By removing the need to prove the use of a television set, the system would be made much simpler, and the ability to pay would closer match the charge made.  

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Monday, 18 May 2015
9:29 AM

The interesting thing about this system is where would people who are exempt from council tax stand on this one. In our house we have one person over 65 and two people registered disabled and our council tax is 0.00 every year because of this.

Would that mean that the broadcasting levy be paid or would the broadcasting levy be extra and not exempt, and also woud that mean that if someone was in real financial difficulty and didn't own a TV they could actually possibly lose their house or end up being arrested for not paying broadcasting levy even though they have no way of receiving it.

If they do opt for this plan there should be some way of opting out or helping people who are less fortunate if they actually can't afford a TV, otherwise it's going to be going down the same route as the bedroom tax and the poll tax, with many people who are unable to afford it finding themselves either homeless or on the wrong side of the law.

Also Briantist "This is a simple levy on all households as it is simple to use BBC services without having a TV at all. " - this is not always the case, if people want to use the BBC services even via a computer or a youview/playstation/xbox the first thing they've got to get is some kind of laptop or computer, or youview/playstatin/xbox (which you need a TV or monitor to plug it in to) and also a valid internet connection to watch it on - which also excludes quite a number of rural areas where internet speed struggles to exceed 2mbps.

Also the BBC do have a way of blocking people who do not pay their TV licence/broadcasting levy from viewing iPlayer - and really they should do. If you try going to HBO USA it asks you to login with your subscription details, this also verifies which country you live in. If you go to BBC iPlayer it's totally open, if your abroad and you go to BBC iPlayer you will only see the international version of iPlayer, not the UK one, but if you use a VPN you can see the UK iPlayer from abroad without paying any TV licence fee to the BBC. If the BBC had a system that asked you to register for iPlayer and validated either your TV licence number of council tax number as having paid the licence fee, like HBO does then it would restrict the number of people watching iPlayer without paying anything. I know there would be nothing to stop someone just sharing their licence number with friends abroad, but it would provide at least a little bit of extra protection.

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Darren's 10 posts GB flag

2:51 PM

Darren: Thanks for that. Let me answer your points.

As this is a replacement for the TV Licence, the answer to the first question is "no". This is because people in receipt of state benefits already at least nominally get money to pay the TV Licence. This new "French" system changes the payment to being collected by TV Licensing to your local council, so you wouldn't expect to get it for free unless you are over 75 (as is the case at the moment).

No one at all would be exempt from this system. The over 75 would have their payment provided by the government, but this isn't an exemption. Every household pays. All of them.

There isn't a way of opting out. Just as there in no way of opting out of paying other taxes!
There isn't such thing as a "bedroom tax", that's just a political construct.

Yes, if you don't pay a tax you will be breaking the law. That's the way it is, as they say.

The BBC doesn't want to get into the subscription business with iPlayer or anything. Two reasons: it's a universal service as everyone pays, and the vast cost of denying 4% of the population not to say the inconvenience to the other 96% - isn't worth it. It would double what everyone has to pay.

It's easy to show different services outside the UK, a totally different matter to deal with who should be denied access in the UK.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts US flag
Friday, 4 March 2016
J Peter Wilson

1:10 PM

The current TV licence fee' should be replaced with a two part system:
1. A Basic TV/Radio subscription fee' for just BBC 1, BBC 2, their children's services & BBC News/Parliament TV channels and all BBC radio (including BBC World Service) which would be collected via the council tax as is done in some other European countries. The cost of the Basic TV/Radio subscription fee' should be set by Ofcom for the government every five years.
2. An optional BBC Digital subscription fee' would be required for iPlayer, website access, phone apps and any further TV channels that it wishes to run such as a first run drama channel. This new BBC Digital subscription fee' should be set by the BBC directly. As they would be competing with the likes of Netflix and Sky/Now TV they would need to offer value for money or may well decide to offer different subscription choices including an extra charge for their quality/premium channels.

In addition by passing all the regulation of the BBC to Ofcom instead of the existing BBC Trust then this allows the UK Parliament and Scottish Parliament to act as an extra safeguard to the BBC's independence from direct political interference by Ministers while enabling elected representatives to have a view on the operation of the BBC as a public service broadcaster on behalf of their constituents and council tax payers.

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J Peter Wilson's 30 posts GB flag
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