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BBC TV licence fee to go up to £159 from April 1

THE TV licence fee is to rise from £157.50 to £159 from April 1, it has been announced.

It’s the fifth year in a row that the licence fee, which funds the BBC, has gone up, increasing households bills.

The TV licence fee is to rise from April 1


The TV licence fee is to rise from April 1Credit: Alamy

Telly watchers legally have to pay the annual fee whether they’re watching live TV or on BBC iPlayer on any device.

It means bill payers will have to fork out £3.05 a week, up from £3.03 a week this year.

The cost of an annual black and white licence will rise from £53.00 to £53.50.

The fee is set by the government and has risen in line with inflation every year since 2017.

In the 12-months to September 2020, the Consumer Price Index – which measures inflation – was set at 1.075% on average.

How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence

YOU can legally use the following services without a TV Licence as long as you aren’t using them to watch or stream live TV:

  • On demand TV – such as catch-up TV and on demand previews, which are available through services including ITV Player, All 4, My5, BT Vision/BT TV, Virgin Media, Sky Go, Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. You can’t watch or download programmes on BBC iPlayer without a TV licence.
  • On demand movies – from services such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
  • Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet.
  • YouTube – Video clips that aren’t live through services such as YouTube.

Viewers will be paying an extra £13.50 a year compared to 2016, when the annual charge was set at £145.50.

Anyone buying or renewing a licence after April 1 2021 will be affected by the new charges.

Households that have already started to pay the fee in instalments, such as quarterly or by monthly direct debits, will continue to pay the lower charge until their licence is up for renewal.

Bill payers can dodge the increased fees by renewing their licence before March 31, locking them into the lower rate.

You do not need a TV licence to watch streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.

Households caught watching the BBC live, or its iPlayer catch up service, may be visited by TV licensing officers.

The broadcaster has said it will send reminders to households with an updated payment plan reflecting the new charges when they come to renew their licence.

John O’Connell, chief executive of campaign group TaxPayers’ Alliance, slammed the fee hike as “the last thing” struggling households needs.

He said: “Brits are fed up with seeing the Beeb splash their cash on loaded luvvies, politicised programming and generous expenses for BBC bosses.

“It’s time to scrap the licence fee and let the public decide what’s worth paying for.”

Last week The Sun reported that nearly a million pensioners are refusing to pay their TV licence. 

The total amount of unpaid fees means the BBC could be losing out on around £118million every year.

People who do not pay the TV licence risk a £1,000 fine – with jail sentences possible for those who refuse to pay the penalty.

Campaigners are calling for the BBC to reinstate free TV licences for over-75s who don’t qualify for pension credit.

Free TV licences for over-75s were scrapped last summer, causing extra costs for millions of households.

The decision was met with widespread dismay with petitions calling for a U-turn attracting hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Raging Inverclyde pensioner tells This Morning ‘I’d rather go to jail than pay TV licence’ as free service for over 75s scrapped

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