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Is the BBC License Fee good value?

Chris Holbrook Find Out Now Market Research

Chris Holbrook

20th Jan, 2022 | 7 mins read

Find Out Now and election experts Electoral Calculus have run a poll on attitudes to the BBC Licence Fee, surveying a nationally representative sample of 2,488 respondents from 18-20 January 2022.

The poll asked GB residents various questions about the BBC Licence Fee, whether it is good or bad value, what a fair price would be, and whether it should be replaced with a subscription-style approach.

In summary:

  • 71% think the fee is very bad value or not enough value
  • 38% think £0 is a fair price to pay for household, the average is £63
  • 63% think the fee should be abolished
  • 30% are prepared to pay £0 personally, the average is £61

Q1. Do you think the BBC licence fee of £159 a year is value for money or not?

ResponsePercentage of respondents
Very bad value49%
Not enough value22%
About right11%
Good value6%
Very good value8%
Prefer not to say4%

Nearly half of all respondents think the BBC licence fee is very bad value, and 71% think it is “very bad” or “not enough” value.

Of those who answered “Very bad value”:

  • Most 18-24s (52%) vs 40% of Over 65s
  • 60% of Leave voters vs 32% or Remain
  • 50% of Conservative voters vs 22% Lib Dem
  • 64% Scotland vs 38% Greater London

Of those who answered “Very good value”:

  • Lib Dem (22%)
  • Remain (17%)
  • Labour (16%)
  • Greater London (15%)
  • Socio-economic groups AB (13%)

Q2. How much per year do you think is fair for a household to pay for a BBC licence fee? (£)

Respondents were asked to enter their own numerical figure. We have displayed the results grouping values together in contiguous ranges.

ResponsePercentage of respondents
£038%
£1-£508%
£51-£10019%
£101-£15016%
£151+19%

Over a third of respondents think the TV Licence fee should be zero, and well over half think it should be no more than £100. Fewer than one person in every five thinks it should be above £150.

The average value over all respondents was £63.

Q3. Assuming it was your responsibility to pay, how much would you personally be prepared to pay for your own household’s BBC TV licence? (£)

Respondents were allowed to enter their own numerical figure. We have displayed the results grouping values together in contiguous ranges.

ResponsePercentage of respondents
£030%
£1-£5018%
£51-£10022%
£101-£15013%
£151+17%

The responses to this question are similar to those of question 2. Three in ten respondents would personally pay nothing for their TV Licence fee, and seven in every ten would personally pay no more than £100. Fewer than one person in every five thinks would be happy to pay more than £150.

The average over all respondents was £61.

Q4. Do you agree or disagree that the BBC licence fee should be abolished and replaced with a voluntary subscription which people would pay only if they want to watch BBC programmes?

ResponsePercentage of respondents
Disagree strongly13%
Disagree somewhat10%
Neither agree nor disagree11%
Agree somewhat21%
Agree strongly42%
Prefer not to say2%
Total disagree23%
Total agree63%

Around one person in every four disagrees and thinks the licence fee should be retained. But more than 3 people in every 5 think the licence fee should be abolished and replaced with a subscription-style opt-in system.  

Breaking the results down by political party support in 2019, 65% of Conservative voters want to abolish the licence fee, as do 54% of Labour voters, but only 41% of Liberal Democrat voters agree. Possibly for different reasons, 76% of SNP voters also agree.

“These questions are not new, and some may question the timing, but familiarity with streaming subscriptions and suspicions of a so-called ‘Woke agenda’ may have pushed the BBC licence fee debate beyond a tipping point.”

Chris Holbrook, CEO of Find Out Now

“The public thinks the TV Licence is too high and is bad value for money. Most people would prefer a subscription-style arrangement instead of the current licence fee.”

Martin Baxter, CEO of Electoral Calculus

Technical Details

Find Out Now polled 2,488 GB adults online between 18-20 January 2022. The sample was weighted to be representative by gender, age, social grade, other demographics and past voting patterns.

Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus are both members of the British Polling Council and abide by its rules.

Electoral Calculus

Electoral Calculus is a political consultancy specialising in quantitative analysis and modelling for electoral and other market research projects. Its pre-poll prediction for the 2019 general election was the most accurate published forecast. It was founded by Martin Baxter, its CEO.

Electoral Calculus is a member of the British Polling Council.

Photo by Huey Images on Unsplash