BBC scraps licence fee for King’s coronation weekend

King Charles III will be crowned in May (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
King Charles III will be crowned in May (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

The BBC is to suspend the licence fee as part of a one-off dispensation for the King’s coronation weekend.

The move will allow venues to screen the live coronation ceremony coverage on May 6 and the coronation concert on May 7 without needing to purchase a TV licence.

It costs £159 annually for a colour TV licence and £53.50 for a black and white TV licence.

The BBC said the dispensation is granted in “exceptional circumstances”, with the event needing to be of “national importance” and screened in a community setting.

The public should be able to watch for free and bring their own food and drink.

Examples of venues cited by TV licensing include community spaces, such as churches and town halls, as well as commercial premises such as concert halls, performing arts venues and cinemas. The dispensation also applies to any outdoor venues which have the facilities to screen the coverage.

The decision on whether an event is of national importance is taken on a case-by-case basis, taking into account if it is constitutional in nature, is in the public interest, is on a bank holiday and if people are likely to want to watch in a community setting, such as a street party, where TVs may not normally be used, the broadcaster said on Tuesday.

The licence fee was scrapped for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022.

King Charles III’s coronation is the first to be staged in Britain for 70 years and it will see the royal anointed and crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in front of more than 2,000 guests.

The Queen Consort will also be anointed and crowned in a simpler ceremony during the King’s coronation service.

The coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey on the Saturday morning, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

According to the palace it will be “a solemn religious service, as well as an occasion for celebration and pageantry”.

Charles and Camilla will arrive at the Abbey in procession from Buckingham Palace, known as “the King’s procession”, and after the service they will return to the palace in a larger ceremonial procession, joined by other members of the royal family.

Charles and Camilla will then be joined by family members on the balcony to conclude the day’s ceremonial events.

Sunday will see “global music icons and contemporary stars” descend on Windsor Castle for the coronation concert which will be broadcast live on the BBC.

Several thousand members of the public will be selected to receive a pair of free tickets through a national ballot held by the BBC.

The show will feature a world-class orchestra playing interpretations of musical favourites fronted by “some of the world’s biggest entertainers, alongside performers from the world of dance”, the palace said.

The performances will be supported by staging and effects located on the castle’s east lawn and will also include a selection of spoken word sequences delivered by stars of stage and screen.

The Government has already launched a consultation on extending pub opening hours throughout the coronation weekend.

That could mean pubs in England and Wales being allowed to stay open until 1am on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.