When I was interviewed for my post at The Freedom Association in January, the topic of conversation turned to existing campaigns and what I thought of them. My response was immediate. The one existing campaign I wanted to get my hands on was ‘Free the Airwaves’. Back in January, the thought of the licence fee being scrapped was a distant dream. Even at the beginning of March, it looked as if the TV licence was going to be renewed ahead of charter renewal in 2017, pretty much in the same way as it has been in the past. Not any more.
In March, Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, proposed that non-payment of the licence fee should be decriminalised and he immediately got cross-party support from over 100 MPs. Although the government has effectively kicked the issue into the long grass by implementing a year long review into the issue, it still means decriminalisation is not going away. The issue will return after the next general election and will be debated again.
But I don’t just want to see decriminalisation for non-payment of the licence fee. I want to see the licence fee scrapped altogether and the BBC move to a subscription based service. We should all have the right to opt-in if that’s what we want. We should not be forced to pay for something we may not want.
I want to put our campaign front and centre in the debate on the future of the TV licence. The BBC can no longer bury its head in the sand and pretend the issue is going to go away. The newly rebranded ‘Axe the TV Tax’ campaign is going to make sure it doesn’t!
We have created a new Facebook page for the campaign, as well as a new Twitter feed. We have bought the domain name ‘AxeTheTVtax.net’, which currently links to blogs I write about the issue on The Freedom Association’s website. Over the next few weeks though, I will be developing a new standalone website that will be full of blogs, memes, research, and campaigning ideas for supporters.
In an ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll published in November last year, 49 per cent of those questioned said they want the licence fee scrapped. There was also widespread support for the BBC finding alternative revenue streams such as advertising, while scrapping the licence fee, with 63 per cent in favour of such reform.
We are clearly in the majority and we need to ensure that the majority view is presented in the strongest possible way. If you are on Facebook, please ‘like’ our page, and also please invite all your Facebook friends to like our page too! If you are Twitter, please follow us, and please keep retweeting our tweets!
Paying a licence fee to own a television or to watch live TV, irrespective of whether or not you watch output from the BBC, is an outdated model that is not fit for the age we live in. As a private company, the BBC can change and adapt freely. It would not have to answer to licence fee payers for every pound of spending. It would not have to appear before committees of MPs to justify itself. If would be free, in the same way as every other private company is free to tailor output and viewing packages to its customers.
Please support us in this important campaign to free the airwaves and to ‘Axe the TV Tax’.