TV Licence fee to increase to £159 from April

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·2-min read

The cost of the annual TV Licence fee will increase from £157.50 to £159 from April 1 2021, it has been announced.

The fee is set by the Government, which announced in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 2017.

The new cost equates to 43p per day, according to the broadcaster.

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Those buying or renewing a licence after April 1 2021 will pay the new fee, while those already buying a licence on an instalment scheme which started before that date, such as via a monthly direct debit or weekly cash payments, will continue to make payments totalling £157.50 until their licence comes up for renewal.

The cost of an annual black and white licence will rise from £53.00 to £53.50.

The licence fee model has come under fire recently amidst criticism of the broadcaster over equal pay, diversity and competition from streaming services such as Netflix, as well as the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s.

BBC iPlayer stock
BBC iPlayer’s TV licence page (Philip Toscano/PA)

Last year the BBC’s new director-general Tim Davie said the licence fee model was the best way of funding the BBC.

He told an Ofcom conference: “I haven’t seen a model that beats the current one at the moment, a universally funded licence fee.

“The vast majority of households think it offers very good value. That’s what the BBC needs to focus on. Under my leadership, we’ll focus on that.”

Last month the Government said it is not going ahead with plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee but will keep the issue under “active consideration”.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said switching to a civil enforcement system risked being seen as an “invitation” to evade the fee and could ultimately reward those who declined to pay.

But he said the Government remained concerned that a criminal sanction was “disproportionate and unfair” in the current public service broadcasting landscape.

The BBC has previously warned that decriminalising licence fee evasion and switching to a civil system would cost it more than £1 billion and lead to significant cuts to programmes and services.

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