TV Licence fee set to rise as number of viewers cancelling increases to over 860,000

4 February 2019

The annual TV licence fee is set to rise by £4 to £154.50, the third price hike in four years

Meanwhile more than 860,000 TV licences were cancelled in 2017/18 compared to 798,000 in 2016/17, according to figures obtained by The Times.

The BBC says that the cost of the annual television licence fee will increase from £150.50 to £154.50 from 1 April.

The government, which sets the level of the licence fee, announced in 2016 it would rise in line with inflation for five years from 1 April 2017.

Those renewing in March will pay the current rate of £150.50. Those buying a new licence before 1 April 2019 will also pay the current rate.

Campaigners say the increase will put even further pressure on pensioners who are already struggling financially.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, says: “This £4 a year increase to the TV licence fee adds insult to injury for the over-75s who face losing their free TV licence next year. 

“For the three in 10 living in poverty or just above the poverty line, struggling to afford the basics such as heating and eating, further increasing a bill they already cannot afford will cause great anxiety and concern.”

The BBC says: "The new licence fee amount equates to just £2.97 a week or £12.87 a month, for which the BBC provides nine national TV channels plus regional programming, 10 national radio stations, 40 local radio stations plus dedicated nations radio services, one of the UK's most popular websites, the radio app BBC Sounds, and BBC iPlayer."

More people ditching the TV licence

More than 860,000 TV licences were cancelled in 2017/18 compared to 798,000 in 2016/17, according to figures obtained by The Times.

This amounts to 2,300 cancellations a day and marks the first rise in cancellations in five years.

Online streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime video, do not require a TV licence to watch them and have seen a rise in popularity in recent years.

A basic Netflix subscription costs £5.99 a month or around £72 a year, less than half the price of the £150.50 annual cost of the licence fee. Analysts estimate that Netflix has 9.78 million subscribers in the UK.

A BBC spokesperson says: “There are more licences in force than ever before – 25.8 million – while the number of cancellations has fallen by 15% since 2012/13. 

“The number of cancellations includes all licences cancelled by TV Licensing due to payment failure, as well as cancellations from customers who no longer need a licence - for example, if they have moved into an address which already has one.”

A TV licence is compulsory to watch live television or use the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service.

The BBC is currently in talks with ITV and Channel 4 about setting up a British rival to Netflix that would have access to archive programmes.

Over-75 free licence review

The announcement comes as free TV licences for the over-75s are being reviewed.

The BBC has launched a consultation to decide how the TV licence for the over-75s should be paid for.

The corporation says that it may have to cut services unless over-75s start paying the licence fee.

Age UK has warned that scrapping the licence fee could plunge as many as 50,000 pensioners into poverty.

Ms Abrahams says: "At the moment TV licences are free for over-75s who apply for one.  They are only at risk because the government passed responsibility for funding and administering free TV licences to the BBC from 2020 in a private deal, without giving them any money to fund it.

“We believe over-75s should keep their free TV licences and we urge the government to take back responsibility for the funding them.”

A BBC spokesperson says: “Free TV licences for people over 75 are expected to cost £745 million a year by 2021/22, and government funding for the scheme ends in June 2020.

“We're conscious that pensioner poverty is still an issue for some older people.  We have set out a range of options in our consultation - each has merits and consequences, with implications for the future of the BBC and for everyone, including older people.

“We need to hear everyone’s views to help the BBC make the best and fairest decision."


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think the TV licence should be scrapped, or a least put at a nominal value for the like of news. They have huge costs to produce largely poor TV.Just like any service you should be free to cancel and move on, there should be a box that blocks bbc channels for a one off purchase, and if you have it installed at your property, you don't pay the TV licence, or as mentioned a nominal fee. Some people do like the BBC, but most prefer other channels, so why force those who don't want to stream (not including myself) to pay for it?What first turned me off the BBC was a news story about a car crash stunt that cost £1m in eastenders, but when it ewd aired, it crashed an old car into a scrap yard, where did the money go? £1000 on the stunt and £999,000 on bonuses or a back pocket of an exec??

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It was the devious Osbourn, the worst Chancellor since WW2, who contrived to pass on the burdon of the free licence fees to the BBC. They knew precisely that the snouts at the BBC would unilaterally remove the senior citizens’ concession with no negative consequencesby virtue of the captive market of viewers. Meanwhile the current DG continues brazenly giving obscene fees/wages/salaries to their top-management and useless and talentless so-called celebrities and autocue readers. The Tory government’s protestations about the self-serving largess within the BBC was no more than cosmetic wall papering and going through the motions of holding that pathetic and weak DG at the BBC to account. The politicians achieved their real purpose and that was not to antagonise the sizeable number of pensioners beyond 75 by off-loading responsibility for the free licence to the snouts at the BBC and shifting blame for the pre-ordained removal of the free licence. It’s up to the silver-haired and bald pensioners to return the compliment by voting for any party but the devious Tories come next election time. Some of us saw this coming the moment that the Government did a Pontius Pilate act on shifting accountability for the BBC licence fee.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Will you stop blaming the government for making the BBC pay for over 75s free licence.The solution is absolutely clear and has been demonstrated by over 800,000 licence fee cancellations , the BBC is angreedy outdated and corrupt organisation no longer wanted in the 21st century and the only solution is SUBSCRIPTION.

In reply to by BRIAN GIBSON (not verified)

I agree

Here, here. The BBC threat is to cut programming if they cannot charge over 75s. Yes, please. Radio 4 is unusable unless you are an ardent feminist/socialist. The drone of bias and hate speech couched as progressive programming is deafening.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Cut the BBC annual budget from £6 Billion (£6,000,000,000) down to 6Million, by cutting eight national TV channels, cut regional programming entirely, remove 9 national radio stations, remove all 40 local radio stations plus dedicated nations radio services and the radio app BBC Sounds.Sell all these resources and hand the cash back to the Treasury to try make amends for the damage the BBC has done to Britain with all the AGW, Pro-EU, Pro-Socialism propaganda over the last 50 years.

In reply to by lojolondon (not verified)


Your so right the BBC is a biased organisation in so many ways and it’s time is should be disbanded if it can’t remain impartial anymore.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Tv licence fees for over 75"s should not be re-introduced. The government funding ought to be brought back to fund this much needed and used service for a section of people who rely on the tv for entertainment and social contact.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dont just moan, cancel your direct debit now ! I can guarantee that the fee will be added to utility bills like some European countries. The British Brainwashing Corporation is there for a reason, to keep you docile and to keep the status Quo. You are not supposed to question or think for yourself.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

why is the money going to the bbc when crap is on bbcone and good stuff is on netflix and amazon so how the hell is the old people going to pay for there tv licence when it is free for them

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Apart from The Antiques Roadshow, Mastermind, Only Connect and Eggheads, I wouldn't miss BBC television. And I've found, since all the Brexit rubbish that has taken over the airways this past year or so, I can happily live without radio in a silent house. In the old days, before Brexit, I'd have Radio 4 playing from dawn till dusk, and now I've learnt how pleasant it is to listen to birds tweeting outside my windows. So either the Beeb becomes a commercial TV broadcaster and becomes self-funding, or it can go broke and shut down. I don't want to listen to radio news broadcasts, or even weather forecasts any more. The news is always mangled and biased, and the weather is hardly ever accurate. As for the Archers during the past two years - don't get me started on how awful that programme has become! Rubbishy story lines acted by actors with silly-sounding voices (men and women alike) that you don't meet in everyday life. Listening to that was the habit of a life-time, but not any more. I just wish we could separate the BBC from the other broadcasting companies (you know, the ones who are self-supporting from advertising, who operate without licence-fees but who provide us with the most interesting programmes). Then we could still get the programmes on our free tellies from broadcasters who know how to run a company without bleeding dry the listening/viewing public.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think the license fee should be scrapped for everyone as it is only BBC that we pay for and they have lots of repeats and rubbish. I do not listen to the radio. Why do they not fund themselves the same as ITV etc.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Unlikely to cancel my TV licence although it regularly crosses my mind not to watch the BBC as their media continues to become more anti-British and extremely politically correct year on year. Their political correspondents are more like social media trolls than factual reporters. Woe to anyone who is interested in Donald Trump, Jeremy Clarkson or Piers Morgan for reasons other than their demise.

In reply to by Josh (not verified)

Great idea !!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why does the outdated TV licence still exist ?It's time the BBC had more adverts and more product placements (oh yes, there are many already!) and SCRAPPED the TV LICENCE !

In reply to by Maxadolf (not verified)

its not about policy its about democracy, bbc should be a suscritption service, they dont want that cause theyd get alot less customers and make alot less productions, they might even risk dieing, for me its a terrible service in 21st centry that i dont use so give me that choice.

In reply to by Maxadolf (not verified)


You misspelled largesse but I suppose details do not matter when having a rant -well-earned but poorly received.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So the BBC is putting the tv licence up yet again giving me 9 tv channels +1 regional channel a few radio stations 1 local radio and a couple of hundred hours of repeats every week,What a bargain at the same time as giving out £Millions to radio presenters left and right and dont forget the big fat pay rises for the people at the top,Well Bullsh**T Broadcasting Company you know what you can do with your rise shove it.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why don't they scrap the license and put on adverts to fund it and also if over 75 year olds have to pay will this put the cost down for everyone. Bet it doesn't. Another government run money making scam. I also believe if you pay for your tv services via Virgin or other the license should be greatly reduced as I feel I am paying twice.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If the BBC had to operate on the same level playing field as all other broadcasters, they would reduce the top heavy management, cut their outrageously high salaries and live in the real world like everyone else has to. Wake up BBC before the public have had enough and you either advertise or disappear completely ... but don't worry, you've got your huge pensions to fall back on , all paid for by us!!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why is the TV licence any longer in existence? The BBC is one of many channels available and can no longer claim to be doing the job it was set up to do. It is time the advertising it uses to promote its own shows was paid for and thus covering the cost of this increasingly poor service.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

we believe liecence fees should be a subscription choice to give people a democratic option of haveing to purchase or not purchaseing bbc subscription fee. My old parents can share my netflix and prime, oh wait they do and dont watch antiques road sho or any other reality tv cook show.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

i always thought bbc was tight as f because really the forced liecience fee wasnt given frewe to students and to pensioners, thats 65 years old at retirement age for some. now they axe what little they give to pentioners. Time to end liecience fees time to force bbc to get into the 21st centry, time to go subscription model. lets see how many people choose them over netflix or prime or any other streaming service that caters to individual needs.My only shock is that the bbc wasnt forced to go subscription based last decade.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

i always thought bbc was tight as f because really the forced liecience fee wasnt given frewe to students and to pensioners, thats 65 years old at retirement age for some. now they axe what little they give to pentioners. Time to end liecience fees time to force bbc to get into the 21st centry, time to go subscription model. lets see how many people choose them over netflix or prime or any other streaming service that caters to individual needs.My only shock is that the bbc wasnt forced to go subscription based last decade.For years they threatened and lied to people to try force them into paying for bbc licence. even now every 2 years i have to call the bbc to ask for a licence to not pay the licence. we are supposed to live in a democratic society, why so why is it forced this way. surely if i want bbc i would pay for it. personally i think their time is coming to a end and unless they cater soon to a subscription model theyll lose what little audience the have left.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hardly watch live TV now as so much rubbish by way of reality type shows and quiz or game shows which are rubbish and low quality. Stream on TV with a dongle and a TV app is the way to go and no licence. Freesat needs to delay satellite broadcast so that it is not a live broadcast thereby avoiding licence fee.Government again a disgrace as they knew what they were doing when they put responsibility onto the BBC for this. Again the rich penalise the poorer. Back to feudal days of serfs (us) and lords in their castles.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I will be 75 this November, and am making plans with regard to my viewing, I lost my husband in 2013 and because of his age we didn't have to pay for a tv licence, since then I have had to pay, so with the thought that it is being withdrawn in 2020 for people who really need to have this connection to the outside world. We are paying for tv programmes that basically are not worth the money, I had sky but because my signal is non existent because of a huge oak tree blocking the signal I eventually had to cancel sky, I currently pay for TV through my broadband, but again it is no worth the money it costs me each month, so with all this in mind I am going to ditch the TV, and go back to listening to music, and watching DVD's on my computer, I guess I am lucky to have hobbies and the ability to do them. My concern is for those seniors who are unable to do this for whatever reason, if the government want to save money, then they should be looking at other ways, maybe free TV licences for the over 75 should be means tested, so that really elderly people who only have a TV for company gets the free licence,

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The solution for over-75s is to cancel their TV licence. Except...Sadly, the BBC terrorise any property that does not have a licence, sending out their henchmen to harass and bully innocent people. Pensioners would be terrified of having these horrid people showing up on their doorstep and demanding access into their home.Truth is, the BBC is the defacto state television and this is why everyone is expected to pay for it. The whole population is being made to pay for the distribution and consumption of mind-altering 'medication' against its own free will. The exponential increase of political messages/lecturing in every section of BBC broadcasting is astonishing.I'm soon moving in to my new first home and will not be buying a TV licence. I can very happily live without live television or ANY BBC 'service'.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

“The corporation says that it may have to cut services unless over-75s start paying the licence fee.”It’s a No-Brainer: cut back on those services that the vast majority of the public have absolutely no interest in. And remove those stations that provide cr*p and are put out without any market research to justify their existence. And, in any case, get ride of those self-serving snouts, including and especially the current, useless DG who does as he’s told by his subordinate management. Was anything ever done about the salaries of over-rated and over-paid newsreaders, sports commentators (yes, you Garry!)? No, of course not! The DG would rather screw pensioners on the poverty line than cut back on obscene salaries for his boys and girls. On a related matter, the BBC generates considerable revenue from overseas access to their programmes. What do they do with this source of revenue? Clue: it’s not used to subsidise the UK operation!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

from 2018 should be tv company make tv with card reader like sky box or other device which is working by card anyone like bbc program buy card anyone not like bbc just leaved i think will sort it out all problems .

In reply to by Josh (not verified)

Well said that person

The BBC needs to support its self rather than rely on taxes perhaps then the over paid people who pop up in all the bbc programmes might have to apply for a job. Plus the execs will have to take a pay cut.
This archaic system needs to stop.

BBC TV license

The BBC has gone off the rails. An organisation that is proud of such a dismal program as EastEnders is surely beyond recovery. I have not watched TV for months 99% of it is rubbish. I avoid BBC radio because of the political lecturing and obsession with a ground hog day short list of PC themes. New commercial talk stations such as LBC and Talkradio do a much more grown up job and provide excellent programs that show how dumbed down and politically correct the BBC has become.

Licence Tax

I cancelled my licence tax when we moved as we couldn't get Virgin anymore, I realised were were paying over £80 a year for broadcast TV we never, ever watched. We just Netflix and download films now. Used to love Radio 4 when it was filled with obscure, fascinating, apolitical content but now it's just endless anti-male, anti-white, high tax, open border, Pro-EU, Big State, "'made up victim of the week', did we mention you need to pay more tax for them?" left wing posturing. I will miss the football but I have less time to watch all the matches now so can just watch time delayed highlights online. It feels good to not be paying for bigoted, openly left wing PC sermonising - there's a place for that and it's the Guardian where people who like it, pay for it as is their right.

Tv Licence

I have a Bt vision box which I watch Prime, Netflix, Universal and H2 on, other than that I barely watch TV! I never watch or listen to anything to do with the BBC as they are ca corrupt far left organisation! I pay enough for the BT, Prime and Netflix so why am I being forced to pay for a Tv Licence when I'm not using BBC service's?
The BBC should be on subscription like everybody else but that would be too easy and would not bring the money in as they know a lot of people wouldn't subscribe!
They are no better then thieves! Daylight robbers! It's disgusting! But once my plan runs out with BT, I will be canceling my TV Licence

TV Licence

We were paying for BBC 24 news channel long before we could afford cable TV as far back as the 90's whilst still analogue TV and was not available to those who didn't have sky or cable tv so you paying for channels you couldn't get

TV licence

Didn't like the man but over 20 years ago Gary Bushnell said everyone should stick together and refuse to pay the TV licence.What could have been done,cannot put everyone in prisons that were already full,and it would take a millennium for debt collectors to knock on every door.If everyone stuck together on this issue the BBC and government would be powerless to do anything due to lack of resources.Do we really need Claudia winkleman,Vanessa felts,Graham Norton.....the list is endless of talentless millionaires whilst people are struggling to make ends meet.Uk is a disgrace.

TV licence

Refuse to renew come June,
And screw Beeb greed,
PC, partial politics, pro-EU,
And fat-cat betrayal of old and new.

Good idea Danny - just needs to go viral

When will we require an…

When will we require an oxygen licence?

Why has the cost of a tv…

Why has the cost of a tv Licence increased? Are we recieving more for our money? Or is it yet again another rip off just like everything in the UK. I wounder when we will be charged for sunlight?

Does not cater to those who pay the license. Time to end the tax

It's ironic that the vast majority of the BBC's funding comes from older generations. The young have no interest in its bias output, preferring subscription model sites like Netflix. Time for the BBC to do the same -then they will realise that Tavistock propaganda doesn't wash with anyone. Ever wondered how many conservative presenters there are on the BBC? Very few, if any. The liberal/left bias is so blatant now it has destroyed decades of credibility around the world.

Left in major dificulty

I suffer from long term mental health conditions. Upon renewing my licence I was informed I have missed some date so my first bill will be half not quarter. I am to be charged nearly 80 pounds in one go. I mean, I don't get that much. I have bills to pay, food to buy and anxiety and stress levels to keep low. I asked for help and was refused, told to go to the website to find helpful advice. I did that only to find I have been given a dodgy licence number and can't sign in, again I got no response when contacting about it. Now, after reading this I don't even think I need a licence anymore. I only really watch Netflix and Amazon prime. I can't remember the last I watched normal tv, let alone BBC. I've had agents and my house threatening me and scaring the hell out of me. (Btw TV licence does know of my condition,. I really don't know what to do. They told me I need a licence for YouTube on my phone, and in ten days more money than I can afford will leave my account.


If you only watch Netflix and Amazon then cancel your licence. If they come to your door refuse to let them in and ignore any threatening letters. As far as Youtube, you only need a licence if you are watching a live broadcast, so for example, if a show was being broadcast on ITV, BBC etc at the same time as being streamed on Youtube.

TV license

How can there be a law that makes you pay for something that you don’t want. People without cars don’t pay road tax (well not yet)

TV licence

If the other channels can get through by advertisement why can’t the BBC advertise rather than us having to pay the licence and if you can’t do that at least leave the 75-year-old pensioners a lot alone and let them have it free they’ve earned it

TV licence

I cancelled my licence after many years of disgust at BBC dross. Why do I have to pay this tax to the BBC when I never watch it and am threatened and prevented from watching free channels like ITV, talking pictures etc. Charging over 75s was the last straw. I now have Netflix prime and, catchup and do not miss the BBC one bit.

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