'Axe the Tax' campaign to scrap the BBC licence fee



We’ve railed against wasteful spending at the BBC throughout our 18 year history. We’ve also challenged the organisation on its establishment outlook, which usually ignores the concerns of typical taxpayers and tends towards an ever-bigger state. 

Lots of people are open to the idea of a much smaller state-funded BBC, adhering to past principles of high culture and serious news. But that’s not what the BBC is - and hasn’t been for some time. It competes in the commercial market using taxpayers’ money, helping to kill off local media outlets with its dominant regional stations, and wasting cash chasing a youth audience it has no hope of catching. It has lost the confidence of taxpayers. 

The licence fee is not fit for the 21st century. With drastic technological change and the myriad ways in which people watch the media, the current model looks increasingly outdated. In January 2020, we launched our Axe the Tax campaign to scrap the BBC licence fee. It’s time taxpayers’ stop being forced to support the BBC!

The licence fee is guaranteed until 2027. Winning this battle won’t happen overnight. We have to make the case now for changes, calling out the BBC and Channel 4 models and empowering politicians and commentators to take a stand. Everything from preparing Channel 4 for commercial ownership to decriminalising the licence fee is up for grabs, and the fight to win these battles is well underway!



In 2020, our BBC Rich List received national media attention - but we didn’t stop there! We quickly launched an online petition to slash BBC star salaries, with thousands signing to make their voices heard within days.

We took the petition itself straight to BBC Television Centre to deliver it in person.



In October 2021, amid growing discontent with the BBC, the TPA proposed bold reforms to the whole model of public service broadcasting, including scrapping the licence fee alongside the sale of Channel 4 and most of the BBC.
We explained that a potential sale of BBC shares could generate up to £5 billion for the government, enough to increase the tax-free personal allowance by £300. As Channel 4’s licence and the BBC’s mid-term reviews approach, amid declining viewership and satisfaction rates, the research laid out a plan for the sale of Channel 4 and a significantly reduced BBC, largely privatised and with remaining features focused solely on public service output.


As the debate rages on, hundreds of thousands of people are still prosecuted every year for non-payment of the TV tax. We stopped by the BBC’s headquarters in early 2022 to remind the government of the need to act now!




In May 2022, the government confirmed legislation to heed our calls and privatise Channel 4, in a massive win for the TaxPayers’ Alliance.



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Recent blog posts:

Licence to bill: The cost of living and the TV tax

What does it say that even in the midst of a cost of living crisis, the BBC still thinks that it can get away with leveraging a charge on people for simply owning a telly?

Don’t just freeze the BBC licence fee, scrap it altogether

You might say a licence fee freeze would be an early Christmas present for taxpayers at a time when taxes and costs are surging. But this is a far cry from the bold plans for the licence fee that this government originally touted.

TaxPayers’ Alliance calls for Channel 4 and BBC overhaul to save taxpayers a fortune

Research reveals that the sale of BBC shares could increase the tax-free personal allowance by £300.

BBC annual review 2021: the good, the bad, and the ugly

If the BBC simply isn’t capable of reducing senior salaries further, limiting luvvie pay or eradicating excessive expenses, we have a simple solution. Stop funding it with public money.

The BBC has diverged significantly from its founding principles

The BBC has diverged significantly from its founding principles, becoming a huge media empire which maintains itself thanks to taxpayers. If we accept its new endeavours into the streaming service age, then it must do so on a level playing field, without a draconian funding model.

The government must be bold and reform the BBC

Instead of getting the best deal for taxpayers the government seems to be giving up on reform at the very first hurdle. Ministers must not lose their nerve. They must be bold and push for serious reform.

Public service broadcasting - How BBC broadcasters should service the public

It seems a political age has passed since February, when Downing street figures told The Times that the BBC licence fee was set to be scrapped. But even though other seismic events have understandably dominated media and political attention in recent months, the battle over the future of the television tax - and with that inevitably, the future of public service broadcasting - is not one that can or should be set aside.

The BBC is stuck in 1986

“What’s the BBC ever given us for 58 quid!?” mused a bewildered-looking John Cleese...

Channel 4 should be up for sale

Why is Channel 4 still taxpayer-owned in 2020?

Radio Ga Ga: Has the BBC had its time?

The BBC is mismanaging licence fee funding which amounts to around £4 billion per year.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

A former Pepsi exec is about to become one of the most influential people in Britain.

The BBC needs to be accountable to taxpayers

We expect the government and local councils to be accountable - why not the state broadcaster?  

The BBC's broadband tax proposal

A broadband tax would be a poor solution to the fundamental problem that the BBC model of public service broadcasting is not fit for the 21st century.

A time to make you appreciate televised sport, with or without the BBC

The sporting freeze makes us appreciative of just how much sport we can watch these days. Don't forget that it is the rise of competitive consumer power which has opened it up. The BBC, paid for by sporting fans and phobes alike, not need be involved.

The future of the BBC licence fee

Mark Wallace in conversation with Sir Robbie Gibb

Consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion

In February 2020 the government launched a consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion. Read the TaxPayers' Alliance submission in full.

Bringing the BBC into the 21st Century

When pondering the wonders of the small box with moving pictures, it is always worth remembering that everyone has to pay an annual tax for the privilege.

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