Boris Johnson Considers Scrapping BBC TV License Fee After Allegations of Bias
Describes socialism throwback levy as 'funding by what is effectively a general tax'
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering scrapping the annual TV license fee charged to UK residents to fund the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), according to reports.
The BBC is a socialism throwback public service broadcaster that receives its funding through a £154.50 ($207) annual levy paid by UK residents, who face criminal prosecution if they refuse to pay it.
PM Johnson is reportedly considering decriminalizing non-payment of the fee following allegations of political bias from the broadcaster.
Johnson argues that shouldn't be forced to pay for the broadcaster that gets its "funding by what is effectively a general tax."
During the general election campaign, the prime minister hinted that he wanted to scrap the license fee as he questioned its long term viability.
After winning a massive Tory majority, Mr. Johnson has instructed aides to undertake a review to look at whether people should still be prosecuted for failing to pay for an anti-Brexit broadcaster.
It comes after it was claimed that Downing Street has effectively banned ministers from appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today program because of concerns about alleged pro-EU bias, according to the Daily Mail.
The Conservative Party did not put anybody up to go on the BBC's flagship morning news show on Friday or yesterday, with a boycott expected to remain in place unless there is a noticeable change in approach.
Mr. Johnson and the BBC repeatedly clashed during the election campaign after the PM refused to be interviewed by Andrew Neil.
Mr. Neil grilled all of the main party leaders but Mr. Johnson decided to skip a proposed sit down with the veteran presenter.
The combination of the license fee review and the Number 10 boycott appears to suggest that things are likely to get even frostier between the two sides.
The Sunday Telegraph said Mr. Johnson is looking into consulting on whether people who do not pay the £154.50 license fee for watching television or BBC's iPlayer catch-up service should be prosecuted.
In the last financial year, 25.8 million households had TV licenses, generating some £3.6 billion in revenue for the BBC.
A review could recommend replacing the existing criminal sanctions for non-payment of the TV license fee with a civil system of fines.
The current royal charter - which sets out the terms of governance of the BBC as well as enshrining a commitment to the license fee funding system - is set to expire in December 2027.
Mr. Johnson hinted during the campaign that the broadcaster would face a big shake-up if he retained power.
The prime minister made the unscheduled announcement during a visit to a haulage firm in Washington, Tyne and Wear, while out on the campaign trail earlier this month.
Asked by a worker whether he would ax the BBC levy, he replied: "How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels? That is the question.
"At this stage, we are not planning to get rid of all TV license fees, although I am certainly looking at it.
"What I will say is that – I am under pressure not to extemporize policy on the hoof – but you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV, a media organization, still makes sense in the long term, given the way other organizations manage to fund themselves.
"That is all I will say.
"I think the system of funding by what is effectively a general tax, isn't it, everybody has a TV, it bears reflection, let me put it that way."