TV licence fee changes for 2020-21 announced

The cost of a TV licence will increase in April 2020 to £157.50 a year.

The level of the fee is set by Government, which in 2016 initiated an agreement whereby the annual increase would be linked to inflation.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) laid a Statutory Instrument to Parliament, introducing the licence fee increase.

The fee works out at £13.13 a month and covers BBC television, radio and websites as well as the bulk of the running costs of Welsh language channel S4C.

The cost of an annual black and white licence will rise from £52.00 to £53.00.

Those who are blind (severely sight impaired) are entitled to a 50% concession on the cost of a licence. From 1st April 2020 this amount will be £78.75. There is no change to the Accommodation for Residential Care concession, which is available to people living in certain types of residential care accommodation, which may include care homes or sheltered housing.

  • If you pay annually, and your licence expires after April 2020, the new rate will not be payable until the renewal date.

Why so much?
Unlike cheaper online streaming services, the BBC is obliged to distribute its services across a variety of older and traditional linear TV platforms to ensure otherwise poorly served communities can access the broadcaster's output, which adds to costs.

But the BBC has been criticised for spending too much on presenter's pay, although a number of highly paid presenters have left the BBC in recent years.

There's been increasing speculation that once the current licence fee agreement ends, the BBC will begin to move to a subscription model, although it's not clear how a universal public service would be offered on that basis.

In preparation for this, the BBC's online services BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds already require registration, and particularly in the area of audio content and radio streams is moving hard to push users to register by reducing the number of places outside of BBC Sounds listeners can access BBC radio online.

Despite the rise, the BBC is preparing to make cuts to its services to be able to take on the cost of providing free TV licences for over 75s on Pension Credit, once the DWP stops its funding. Addressing the need for cuts despite high staff salaries, the BBC has previously pointed out that even if its presenters and senior management stopped being paid, there would still be a shortfall of cash.

Commercial operators have meanwhile been resisting any moves by the BBC that could affect their income, despite the BBC being encouraged to raise more money from commercial enterprises. After fears that the BBC could exploit their vast archives of programmes to the detriment of commercial operators, most broadcasters were pacified by the creation of BritBox UK, which means ITV, Channel 4 and 5 can benefit and profit from a platform that heavily uses BBC programmes to promote it.