A Go Fund Me fundraiser is gathering momentum with people making donations to a campaign, which rallies to “decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee” and “reduce the BBC Charter‘s scope to cover BBC content only”. The campaign, organised by ‘Defund the BBC Ltd’, said: “We believe that this is not only in the people’s interests – finally, they will be free to enjoy the television they wish, without the threat of criminalisation – but the BBC’s interests too.”
It accuses the corporation, which charges a £157.50 annual fee, of a “discriminatory” and “disproportionate” system to catch and prosecute non-licence fee payers.
Fundraiser organisers say it is “not reasonable for people to be forced, by fear of imprisonment, to pay a licence fee in order to watch (or record) non-BBC live TV”.
Their campaign statement said: “With £60k we will be able to run the campaign until the end of 2020 and take the message from online into the real world, despite the traditional media black-out.
The BBC is under pressure over its TV licence fees
A campaign to defund the BBC is gathering momentum
“With £400k the campaign will be able to continue right up until the BBC Charter mid-term review in 2022, keeping pressure on the government to decriminalise and reduce the Charter’s scope so that people aren’t forced to pay for TV they don’t want to watch.”
Donors backed the campaign and said the BBC was “no longer fit for purpose”.
One said: “I think the BBC does not offer value for money.”
Campaigners are calling for the UK to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee
Another said: “The once great and respected BBC now lies in tatters. Replaced with pseudo-science, agendas and left wing bias.
A critic posted: “BBC are no longer for for purpose.”
One added: “People should have the strength of mind to make their own decisions, BBC seeks to lead people by the hand to their own agendas and bias.
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It follows outrage over the BBC’s decision to renege on its deal struck with former George Osborne in 2015 to take on the cost of free licences for the over-75s
People aged over 75 will now be required to pay the BBC licence fee
“I don’t watch the BBC, but I should be able to turn my tv on and watch some other cack without the risk of a stupid fine.”
Another wrote: “The BBC no longer deserves to receive money from people who have no time for its biased woke agenda which permeates its whole output.”
It follows outrage over the BBC’s decision to renege on its deal struck with former George Osborne in 2015 to take on the cost of free licences for the over-75s.
Part of the 2015 deal was for the government to block legislation brought forward by Tory MP Andrew Bridgen to decriminalise the licence fee which had won backing in Parliament.
The announcement that 3 million over-75s will be forced to pay and could also be dragged through the courts and sent to prison has heightened demands that the government decriminalises non-payment.
The free licences for over-75s had been due to end on June 1 but this was delayed by the pandemic.
However, from August 1, viewers aged 75-plus, who currently qualify for a free TV licence, will have to pay £157.50 unless they get Pension Credit.
Around 900,000 people receive the credit yet 600,000 more are eligible and don’t claim it.
More than 125 people have made donations to Defund the BBC totalling to £30,005 at the time of writing.