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BBC Licence Fee

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:31 am on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State 10:31 am, 6th February 2020

I would like to reiterate the words of the Secretary of State yesterday and, first, outline the importance of the broadcasting sector and the value that we as a Government place on it. Globally, the BBC is seen as a beacon of British values. It is one of the most recognised and trusted brands, reaching more than 400 million people around the world every week. However, it is important to acknowledge that the media landscape is changing, as is its content and how we consume it.

Set against that, there remain legitimate concerns that the criminal sanction for TV licence fee evasion is unfair and disproportionate, and indeed an anachronism. As we move into an increasingly digital age with more and more channels to watch and platforms to choose from, we must revisit the logic of criminalisation and ask whether criminal penalties for consumer choice are consistent with a just and democratic society. We therefore believe it is right to look again at whether the criminal sanction is still appropriate. This is why it is right, as the Secretary of State announced yesterday, that the Government are launching an eight-week public consultation to examine the decriminalisation of TV licence evasion and to share the thoughts on the TV licence model and how it may yet change over time. The Government will consider the results of the consultation when it is completed.