BBC blow: Huge losses for beeb as TV licence fee evaders no longer face prison threat

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The corporation can pursue fine charges imposed by the civil courts and collected by bailiffs. The new Government plans could be revealed as soon as next month.

Speaking to the Times, a Government source said the new plans were a “done deal”.

However, they added that the decriminalisation would be substituted by another penalty that was yet to be discussed.

The source said: “We have to be careful that what we replace the licence fee with isn’t worse than what we have.

“We’re talking about higher fines, using bailiffs and damaging people’s credit ratings.

The source added: “We need to tread carefully.”

The news comes after BBC boss Tim Davie admitted the corporation has been “unfair on pensioners”.

Mr Davie added the BBC’s decision to cut free TV licences for millions of over-75s was “not a great look”.

Speaking at a Royal Television Society talk, Mr Davie said: “The BBC doesn’t deliver equally to everyone,” adding there were “certain bits of the country” that “don’t necessarily feel the BBC is for them”.

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He added: “There are audiences in a diverse Britain that feel a little bit further away from us.

“I do think there’s something about metropolitan-based organisations, or the way you hire, than can somewhat feel a bit distant from some of the population.”

Earlier this year, campaign group Defund The BBC was set up to call for the decriminalisation of TV licence non-payment.

The campaigners have since attracted a following of more than 95,000 on Twitter.

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The group has set up a profile to collect donations.

On the website, the group stated:” Our aim is simple – we want to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee and reduce the BBC Charter‘s scope to cover BBC content only.

“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.

“We intend to build our movement in a constructive way, making the inarguable, modern case for moving on from the current Licence Fee, while informing people how they can legally cancel their Licence.

“Change won’t happen unless it has to. It’s time to Defund the BBC.”

Defund The BBC’s campaign director, Rebecca Ryan, said: “Whilst the BBC rinses cash-strapped Brits, the rich are getting richer.

“The BBC extracted much of this money from licence fee payers, under threat of harassment and prosecution.

“It is unacceptable that the Corporation see fit to pay such huge salaries.

“In the current climate, with so many people furloughed or facing redundancy or their businesses closing, it is a kick in the teeth to see the BBC being shown such largesse.”

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