As households draw up their budgets for the new year, the BBC has announced that the 2024 TV licence fee will rise by 9%.
The new annual cost of £173.30 or £14.44 a month has come under criticism from the government as being ‘very high’.
Update 07/12/23: The government has confirmed the new licence fee will be £169.50 from April. This is a rise of 6.6%, based on the rate of inflation in September rather than an average through the year.
What is the TV licence?
The TV licence is an annual fee paid to watch broadcast TV. It’s a legal requirement for anyone watching live TV in the UK.
Most of the funds raised go towards the BBC’s radio and TV broadcasts. Licence fees also fund Freeview TV, rolling out broadband to rural areas, local TV channels, S4C and Welsh language TV.
What’s changing for the 2024 TV licence?
The cost of the TV licence has been frozen at £159 a year since 2022. Now, the price will be adjusted based on inflation over the last two years. In April 2024 the licence fee will rise by 9% or £14.30.
This is higher than was expected at the time of the initial price freeze. At that point, analysts projected that the licence fee would rise just £3.50 in 2024, and stay below £175 a year until 2027.
2027 is the year the current licence fee system might change for good. That’s the year that the BBC’s Royal Charter, which controls how the broadcaster generates its public funding, is up for renewal. With criticisms of the new licence fee cost coming from the government, the BBC might have to reconsider or face losing the right to collect licence fees at all in 2027.
Who has criticised the 2024 TV licence price change?
When asked about the fee rise, culture secretary Lucy Frazer said ‘I’m concerned that that’s a very high level.’ She also said that the government were considering intervening to ensure the 2024 TV licence fee is affordable, and promised ‘an announcement on this very shortly.’
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned the BBC should be ‘realistic’ about how much people can pay.
Do I need a TV licence?
You must have a TV licence if you watch live TV at home. That covers programmes shown on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, as well as on digital channels through Sky or Virgin Media. You also need a TV licence to use the BBC catchup service BBC iPlayer.
You can read more about who does and doesn’t need to pay for a TV licence here.
What happens if I don’t pay for a TV licence?
If you are found to be watching TV without a licence you can be fined up to £1000, plus legal expenses. Close to 1,000 households a week are prosecuted for non-payment in the UK.