Britain’s over 50s have backed calls for non-payment of the TV licence fee to be made a civil offence.
A Saga poll* of more than 10,000 people over 50 found that half of those asked are against dragging non-payers through the criminal courts, while 23% want to keep the status quo. 64% of those asked are against making the BBC entirely subscription-based.
Saga Director or Communications, Paul Green, commented: “Many of our customers are clearly concerned that time and money is wasted annually prosecuting people who haven’t paid their licence fee.
“To those who want to see change, it would be far more sensible to make non-payment a civil matter, bringing all the consequences of not paying with it.
“Chasing this number of errant licence fee payers sounds like a scene straight out of comedy series W1A and shouldn't really be a part of modern Britain.”
The poll, carried out by Populus, also found that almost half (46%) would agree with the BBC earning income from a limited amount of sponsorship or advertising in order to reduce the licence fee. Over a fifth (21%) of over 50s would approve if the BBC became a subscription only service.
A TV licence, which is required if a user watches or records live broadcasts on any device in the UK, costs £145.50 per year. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has tabled a proposal in the Commons to decriminalise non-payment. His proposal, among amendments to the Deregulation Bill currently going through Parliament, is aimed at forcing a vote on immediate decriminalisation.
*Populus interviewed 10,277 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 14th and 18 March 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information see www.populus.co.uk