The BBC is funded primarily by an annual Licence Fee—currently at £159—paid by British households and organisations. With the BBC’s present royal charter ending in 2027, some have argued the BBC should thereafter be funded through other revenue avenues, such as advertising or subscriptions. However, a House of Commons Select Committee has determined that, lacking a viable alternative due to limited broadband infrastructure, the Licence Fee model will need to remain until at least 2038. In two polls recently conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, we asked Britons their thoughts on the topic and found there is minimal support among the public for keeping the BBC Licence Fee.
56% of respondents said the BBC should be funded by advertising or subscriptions, including 67% of 2019 Conservative voters. Half (48%) of 2019 Labour voters said the BBC should be funded by advertising or subscriptions. Just a quarter (27%) of Britons believe the BBC should be funded by the BBC Licence Fee, while 17% don’t know.
A majority of all age groups believe the BBC should be funded by advertising or subscriptions, except 18-to-24-year-olds, who are divided: 38% say the BBC should be funded by advertising or subscriptions and 37% say by the BBC Licence Fee.
Further, 70% of Britons say they would be more likely to vote for a Party that suggests scrapping the BBC Licence Fee. Just 30% say they would be more likely to vote for a Party that does not suggest scrapping the Fee.
Conservative voters are again more inclined to say they would be more likely to vote for a Party that suggests scrapping the BBC Licence Fee, at 74%. Meanwhile, 65% of Labour voters say the same. The youngest and eldest age groups have the greatest proportion of respondents saying they would be more likely to vote for a Party that does not suggest scrapping the Licence Fee, though it is still relatively low at 35% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 36% of those aged 65 and over.
Although it appears as though the BBC Licence Fee will remain in place for the foreseeable future, our research demonstrates that much of the British public disagrees with this decision. Support for scrapping the BBC Licence Fee in favour of advertisements or subscriptions is widespread across most age groups and is even one area where many Conservative and Labour voters seem to concur.
To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.