If someone fails to pay their electricity bill or their Sky subscription the company concerned can pursue the customer for the money and should succeed in getting the money back with a civil penalty. The law says the customer should pay for the goods and services supplied, but does not make failure to payment a criminal offence.
So why is the BBC licence fee, another service charge for customers, any different? Apparently 12% of Magistrates’ courts time is taken up with prosecutions for failure to pay the BBC licence fee. Anyone found guilty then has a criminal record. The poor and elderly figure prominently in those who get a criminal record by these means.
Andrew Bridgen MP is proposing an amendment to the Deregulation Bill to shift the BBC licence fee from a criminal matter to a civil matter like any other household bill. Do you agree this would be a good move? It would free Magistrates courts of these criminal cases, and create parity of treatment between the BBC and other tv service providers.