Britons Baulk at BBC Licence Fee

19 August 2008

LONDON: An Ipsos Mori poll for MediaGuardian suggests that while most Britons enjoy BBC TV programmes, a significant number disagree that the mandatory licence fee is value for money.

Nor do they believe the fee to be an appropriate way of funding the public broadcaster – a sentiment that gains in potency the further north from London respondents reside.

In Scotland 47% disagree that the licence fee is an appropriate funding mechanism, while 35% are in favour; in the north of England the percentage of dissidents falls slightly to 44% and 37% support the fee; in London only 28% disagree and 41% are supportive

There is a similar split among socio-economic groups. Asked if the fee is an apt mechanism for funding the BBC, 56% of those in the higher-income A/B group said it was; at the opposite end of the spectrum only 32% of the D/E group thought so.

The BBC's opponents – led by the Murdoch-owned daily press which commands some 37% of all UK newspaper readership – have vociferously lobbied against the £139.50 ($260.18; €177.05) annual fee levied on all TV-owning households, irrespective of whether their occupants watch BBC channels.

The anti-brigade argue that the fee is difficult to justify in a fragmented digital age given the decline in time spent in watching BBC programmes.

The BBC counters that in such an environment it has a more important role than ever in delivering high-quality public service content to a wide audience.

However, many critics and viewers question how much of the BBC's heavily populist output meets its claimed quality standard?

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff