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Licence fee replacements: All-homes broadcast contribution?

Having looked at the Finnish income-based model, and the French council-tax add-on, the version preferred by the Select Committee Report is the German Model. Let us have a closer look.

published on UK Free TV

(Some of this comes directly from a transalation of


You get an email.

The email says that that it is from the multimedia media contribution service.    

It says that, following the 2016 Communications Act, the TV Licence has been abolished, and replaced with a mandatory payment called the multimedia media contribution (MMC).

Following the link, you see


Who has to pay the broadcasting fee?

Citizens, companies and institutions as well as institutions of public welfare pay to broadcast contribution and thus share the funding of public service broadcasting.

Is the broadcast contribution to a tax?

The broadcasting fee is not a tax but a contribution to the levy legal sense.

For citizens the simple rule applies: One household - one contribution - no matter how many people live there, and how many TVs are available. In other words, families, shared apartments, and unmarried couples pay a contribution.

This charge, the site says, is now levied on an annual basis on all households in the UK.  Unlike the old scheme, it says, the MMC does not have to prove anything beyond the existence of the household.    

The government is still paying for any home where one or more members is aged 74 or older.    This can be claimed, as before, by providing a national insurance number.  The old TV Licence system has passed all known qualifying households over the MMCS.

The fee is set at £150 per household. 

The first year

If the property had a TV Licence covering the last year of operation, the MMC in the first year starts from the date the TVL expired. 

If you have any of the following, you can apply for an exemption / reduction

  • Retired and getting financial support;
  • Job seekers;
  • Full time students not living with their parents.
  • Asylum Seekers;
  • Receiving benefits for full time care;
  • Receiving state nursing care or war benefits;
  • In an inpatient facility;
  • Deafblind, blind or more than 60% visually impaired;
  • Disabled persons (pay only one-third contribution)


MMC for Companies and Institutions

Companies and institutions participate in the funding of public service broadcasting.

For hotel and guest rooms and apartments of the new monthly broadcast fee is also £4.

MMC Institutions of public welfare

Institutions of public interest such as schools and non-profit associations and foundations, as well as firefighters, police, army, civil defence and disaster protection pay a maximum of a broadcast monthly contribution of £13 per month per establishment. 


Would this work in the UK? 

Making the payment come from all 26.4m households – rather than those with a TV – will reduce the collection costs.   

However it does little to make the tax more progressive.   

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015
11:01 AM

No, not at all supportive of such a backwards move. There would in effect be no opt out so it is actually another compulsory tax in exactly the same way council tax is a compulsory tax..and no doubt similar or worse Draconian penalties for non payment! I went without a TV for 6 years and whilst it took some convincing TVL that I didn't have one in the end I eventually managed to opt out and stopped paying the licence. I really didn't miss TV at all and we only have one now because my partner enjoys a few programmes each week. £150 per year for a few programmes each week isn't my idea of a fair contribution. Seems to me that there is complete resistance to radical change and these backward ideas are emerging because it's safer than alternatives. But if you're going to levy a TV tax you may as well just collect it through general taxation and stop poncing about and pretending like it's fair an there's any choice involved.

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Simon's 2 posts GB

9:43 PM

Simon: Your paying £145 for an all you can eat service, which works out at £2.79 a week! I dont know what you mean by a 'few programmes', but if you want to buy them individually on Itunes, you'd almost certainly be paying far more than that.

Think about raising funds via taxation, and what that means for the BBC in terms of political control. Say something bad, and your funding gets a 10% cut next year. Or because the paper which backs your party also happens to own a broadcasting network. Or simply because you want to grandstand about public spending. I dont want a politican looking over the shoulder of the person delivering the 6 O'Clock News, never mind his boss being appointed by the PM (which is what happened in Greece).

Brianist: Did you listen to the phone-in on Radio 4's 'You and Yours'. I was vaguely dreading it (they had one on climate change that was so bad it made your ears bleed and I complained to the BBC about it), but actually, a good 70% were very supportive of the BBC and the licence fee.

In fact, what came through was the love and loyality they had for the BBC. There was also the perspective of those who had lived abroad, which emphasised the value and values which the BBC gives.

The negative callers tended to be vaguely ignorant about how broadcasting actually works, repeated meme's, and plucked figures out of the air (apparently one caller was willing to pay £60 per year, 'about the same as National Trust membership'!). They also repeated the normal nonsense about 'subscription', without any idea as to how this would work (and the presenter did not press them).

The most misleading guest was a former executive of LWT, and apparently a former adviser to John Whittingdale, who suggests that a 'voluntary subscription' system would replace the licence fee. How this was supposed to work was never explained, and he tended just to repeat the meme that the licence fee was unworkable.

He was very disingenous when putting forward the idea that Iplayer could not easily use a password system by which anyone who had not paid the licence fee could not gain access to it. He waffled something about all the commercial streams needing to do the same, but this is nonsense - Now TV and Netflix do this already, and without any problems.

It would have been nice to have someone other than the presenter (who only occasionally pushed back against the more stupid claims) refuting the myths and propaganda with actual data. Perhaps they could ring you next time?

Overall, though, what came through, and the BBC executive on the show spoke about this, is the appreciation that the BBC creates amoungst its audience, and that they feel its not only good value, its good in itself. If the BBC could mobilise this, then they would be in a very strong position.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
12:54 AM

I prefer the on demand model, but then with the option (meaning I choose rather than being told it's compulsory) to stump up an annual fee to enable greater access to available content if required. Currently works for other services.

Oh by tbe way. All you can eat buffets generally have a familiar range of foods that are medicore and of lower quality than the main menu offerings. I much prefer to eat out less frequently and choose from the main menu and pay a little extra for higher quality. Quantity isn't everything.

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Simon's 2 posts GB

11:57 AM

Simon: How is this 'on demand' model supposed to work? At least in a way which is economically viable. It would be interesting to hear one that works, since nobody has come up with one yet.

As for quality - satisfaction with BBC programmes is generally very high, looking at polling. Its also worth pointing out that Sky subscribers, which have access (which they pay a lot more for) to a much larger amount of programming than terrestial, use the BBC at pretty much the same level as everyone else. As you say, quantity isn't everything.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Tuesday, 2 June 2015

10:07 AM

it be an TV Poll Tax... meaning everyone will have to pay even they don't own a tv set..... also if a house of 4 adults mean tv tax is paid 4 times........ it is not a fair way of collecting tv licence.....

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rob's 171 posts GB
Thursday, 11 June 2015
Ray Baldacchino
9:29 PM

I suggest that we should stop taxing people to pay for the TV licence, and it should be abolished and the BBC should operate like any other commercial TV broadcaster. For those concerned about commercial breaks within a programme, this could be avoided and advertising could be confined to between programmes.

When the BBC was formed, and for a long time after, it may have been appropriate to be funded by what is, in anybody's language, a tax. But these days, I would argue that people should not be forcibly taxed to provide entertainment which they may or may not want. To my mind, this is an abuse of Parliament's powers because it is unreasonable to tax people to provide entertainment. People are not free to choose on this issue - they should be.

I am sure, from the TV ratings, that the BBC can hold its own on advertising revenue, as it is a quality broadcaster. Reduce unreasonable taxation now!

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Ray Baldacchino's 9 posts GB

11:06 PM

Ray Baldacchino: If you'd bothered to have a look at any of the articles Brian has written,
TV Licence decriminalization: just how much is it going to cost you?

you'd reject the idea of the BBC taking advertising as nonsense. There simply isn't the revenue for the BBC to take aslice of the pie, either to keep the BBC fed, or anyone else.

And adverts only at the end of programmes? This isn't the 1950's....

As for whether the Licence fee is a 'reasonable tax', nobody forces 93 percent of the viewing audience to watch BBC 1 in any particular week. And yet they do, including the people who get it on Sky. 97 percent of licence fee payers use BBC services on a weekly basis, and I'm not sure what the remaining percentage actually do - Jeremy Kyle perhaps?

When you can come up with a better way of paying for TV, that is economical, efficient and gives the best possible programming for the money, let us know.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
9:31 PM

The Portuguese version of an audio visual tax is better, whereby a contribution is made via the electricity bill when consumption of electricity in a household rises above approximately 400Kwh per annum. (Low consumers of energy are exempt (empty property).
The broadcaster in receipt of the money however has to raise the difference in advertising and sales.
In Portugal the "fee" is less than three euros per month!
I would suggest in the UK its fixed at £60 per annum reducing year on year for 10 years until the BBC is self sufficient and no longer requires a "fee" to exist.

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Nigel's 1 post GB
Tuesday, 3 November 2015
3:21 PM

MikeB: You portray the BBC Licence Fee as an all you can eat buffet, it is not, it includes and all you can eat buffet but it is a legally required Restaurant pass. Those who would like to eat in any Restaurant are obliged to pay for a meal at the BBC whether want it or or eat it, or not.

If I want fish n chips from a local specialist chippy, indeed anyone who eats anything that's not on BBC menu, I must FIRST pay for the BBC buffet and only then, IF I have enough money left, can I pay for my fish n chips. Everyone is paying twice, once for a BBC meal that they are, by definition, not eating, and once for the meal they are, by way of their time watching adverts or further financial subscription. We pay the BBC no mater what.

The fact that many people do choose to eat at least some of it is hardly surprising as they have all had to pay for or it.

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RichardW's 8 posts GB

11:21 PM

RichardW: I suspect that the restaurant analogy might be a bit convoluted for me, so lets just look at facts.

You pay a fee/tax/subscription/charge or whatever it is. That allows you to watch anything you like, from the most basic Freeview up to Sky, etc. It only gets charged if you have a TV (unlike Germany), and is per household. Its a flat fee, and there is no limit to what you can watch, access, etc.

Now its true its a hypothecated tax, which is pretty unusual, in that it goes to one broadcaster (the BBC). However, the BBC does nurture a large amount of talent which then goes on to make programmes for other broadcasters, supplies programming nobody else does, and makes technical leaps possible in a way that commercial channels could not. As you yourself have written:

'Fundamentally, my view is that the BBC is superb institution, it provides a considerable number of unique and high quality services, it might well be the finest Public Service Broadcaster in the world. However it is very much that: a Public Service.'

I agree that the BBC delivers high quality programmes, and I hope its able to continue doing so.

Your issue is with the licence fee and the funding model. OK, I understand, but its very much the perfect being the enemy of the good.

Firstly, if the BBC was only watched by a small fraction of the viewing public, then there might be a reasonable argument that people were being forced to pay for something they did not use. However, despite the large number of alternative channels on Freeview (never mind Sky), 97% of licence fee paying homes use the BBC services at least once in any week, and 93% watch BBC1 at least once a week. So basically pretty much everyone who pays the licence fee uses the BBC. Frankly, I'm not sure about the 3% who are left. There seems to be loads of them on any newspaper discussion thread where the BBC is mentioned, but I suspect they are bit like people who swear they are hardcore vegetarians, while totally forgetting the bacon sandwich they had that morning.

So are we going to design a payment system which caters for the needs of the 3% (who might well be lying anyway), or are we going to have a system which works, which is efficient in terms of costs to revenue raised, and all polling tells us is actually pretty popular. The recent 'deprevation test', which came up with a figure of something like 90% for those who thought the licence fee was fine, and shows just how popular the licence fee is once people have had a chance to reflect on what they get.

As for the philosophical point of 'choice' - sorry, but thats life. You also get no choice when you pay your various taxes as to what goes to the NHS, Pensions or Education. And neither they or the licence fee are charged at the point of use. In this case, I'm firmly of the Benthamite school - 'the greatest good of the greatest number'.

We've been through all the various ways of paying for thr BBC, and they all have large problems. Tax? Think of the pressure the BBC would be under from ministers. Advertising? There isn't enough of the cake to share without other broadcasters go bust, and there really isn't enough, full stop. Subscription? Brianist came up with some figures here: BBC 2017: The problem with turning Freeview into Payview to keep the 3% happy , but its a nonstarter. There are no boxes, the costs are huge, the disruption would be very large, and a lot of people would lose out. And voluntary subscription is a deranged fantasy.

'The fact that many people do choose to eat at least some of it is hardly surprising as they have all had to pay for or it. '

Does anyone actually sit down and watch BBC programmes or listen to the radio just because they have paid 39.8p per day per household? If they are, then they probably require professional help. I'm pretty sure nobody watches a programme (whether they like it or not), just because they somehow feel that they've paid for it. We have umpteen channels to choose from, and yet we still watch the BBC in large numbers. We watch programmes because we want to.

In fact, I suspect a fair number of people often have no idea which channel a programme is even on. Someone on the net recently cited the example of the woman who insisted she didn't watch the BBC. She did watch Eastenders, but on Sky. There is a reason why Brianist suggested DOGS etc for BBC1 - Time for the BBC to release the DOGs? - to remind people what they do get for for less than 40p a day.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
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