Update: post now includes FOI results RFI20171125 sent by the BBC itself.
In 2016, a media frenzy was generated out of the closure of the so-called TV licence loophole.
But was there any proof of money haemorrhaging through this open wound?
The number of TV licence is always increasing and BBC’s income has not changed much, which makes sense since the fee was frozen.
|Number of TV licence in force||Income officially generated by the TV licence|
|2016-2017||25. 8m||£3,787m* (an increase of £44m on the year before)|
|2012-2013||25.34m||£3.7bn* (up £6.7m from the previous year)|
|2011-2012||25.23m||£3.7bn* (up £19.1m from the previous year)|
|2010-2011||25.1m||£3.7bn* (up £99million from the previous year)|
*None of these number adds up because a colour TV licence costs £ £145.50 and a number of black and white ones (at £49) are still around – more than 8,000 in 2016 and exactly 9,813 in 2015.
Over the past 7 years the data shows a steady growth in TV licence numbers this would not support the claim that the existence of the so-called loophole was depriving the BBC of fee payers and therefore income.
TV licensing attributes this constant growth to 3 factors, in this order:
- the continuing popularity of live TV (which is pure poppycock )
- the increasing number of homes across the UK
- the change in law which requires a licence for BBC programmes on iPlayer
In search of evidence to support the desperation to shut down the so-called loophole, we looked into TV licensing’s enforcement methods and spending. This revealed that the cost of postage has recently increased while the cost for call centre, officers and detection services has dropped massively. It would suggest that TV licensing made the tactical choice to nearly half the level of doorstep enforcement.
|Costs||Reminder letter, information campaigns||Postage||Call centres, officers, detection and services|
|Number of visits|
|Number of letters sent|
|Number of people caught by TV licensing officers|
This idea that TV licensing is moving away from the aggressive and apparently costly doorstep enforcement approach may be supported by the drop in the number of prosecutions in 2016.
|TV Licence Prosecutions & out of court disposal Per Capita, 2016|
Even though the number of prosecution for TV licence offences has dropped, ‘15,522 less prosecutions’ is very little when put in perspective with the number of TV licence in force. When multiplied by the average fine,
we get a potential gain of £3.175m (£2.7m in England, £400k in Wales and £75k in N. Ireland.)
Considering that only 1/3 of fines are usually recovered this would generate realistically £1.05m.
Based on based on 2015-2016 expenditure, it’s easy to realise that TV licensing made the right choice by not investing a further £37.6M in call centres, officers, detection and services as it appears to generate little or no effect, thus proving the futility of the whole criminal enforcement process for the TV licence. It feels like pulling a rotten tooth out of a dead horse’s head.
The final conclusion is that there never was a huge crisis requiring the closure of the so-called TV licence loophole, the numbers just don’t add up. We were taken for a ride. Again.
 http://informitv.com/2015/08/09/uk-traditional-television-viewing-declines/ and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3142416/TV-ownership-40-year-low-one-20-households-not-set-younger-viewers-avoid-paying-licence-fee.html
 The UK housing market comprises 28.1 million residential properties in 2014. A further 152,440 houses were built in the financial year ending in 2015.
 The law changed on 1 September 2016.