Is the Television Licence Fee Fit for Purpose in the Digital Era?

19 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2016

See all articles by Helen Weeds

Helen Weeds

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 2016


In the context of the UK's ongoing review of the BBC's Royal Charter, this article discusses the future of the television licence fee. As channels proliferate and new ways of watching television take hold, there is increasing pressure on the TV licence system. Drawing on an analysis of the rationale for public service broadcasting, the article considers whether the licence fee can be adapted to reflect this new world or should be replaced by a different funding model. It concludes that while modernising the TV licence fee to close the 'iPlayer loophole' would patch up the current system, it would be preferable to replace the licence fee altogether, perhaps with a household levy. Subscription may be a useful top‐up for non‐essential services where a broad reach is less important. The ban on the carrying of advertising by the BBC should also be reconsidered.

Keywords: BBC Charter review, public service broadcasting, TV licence

Suggested Citation

Weeds, Helen F., Is the Television Licence Fee Fit for Purpose in the Digital Era? (February 2016). Economic Affairs, Vol. 36, Issue 1, pp. 2-20, 2016. Available at SSRN: or

Helen F. Weeds (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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