This briefing provides statistics on the TV licence fee and general television viewing trends. The Licence fee concessions and payment amounts are set by Parliament under the Communications (Television Licencing) Regulations 2004 (as amended). As stated by TV Licencing:

It is an offence to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on any channel and on any broadcast platform (terrestrial, satellite, cable and the internet) or download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer without a valid TV Licence”

Currently the annual TV licence fee is £157.50 for colour and £53 for a black and white.

Key points

Licence fee revenues reached over £3.5 billion in 2020

TV License fee revenues in 2019/20 were £3.52 billion which was slightly higher than the 2010/11 figure of £3.51 billion (in cash terms). 

During the period between 2010/11 and 2017/18 the cost of TV licences for over 75s accounted for around 16-17% of the total licence fee income from the DWP. In 2019/20, the TV Licence cost for over 75s covered by the DWP was around £0.25 billion (7% of the total Licence income), a decrease from £0.47 billion (13% of the total Licence income) in the previous year.

Licence fee accounted for 71% of BBC funding in 2019/20

Total BBC income in 2019/20 was £4.94 billion, 71% of which came from the licence fee revenues. The remaining 29% or £1.42 billion came from commercial and other activities (such as grants, royalties and rental income).

95% of households own a TV in 2019

In Q1 2020, around 27 million or 95% of all households in the UK owned a TV set. The number of households owning a TV increased by 4.8 times over the last 60 years, compared to 1956 when only 5.7 million or 36% of all households had a TV.

Estimated TV licence evasion rate rose from 5.20% in 2010/11 to 7.25% in 2019/20

The BBC’s Licence Fee Unit estimates for evasion showed the highest level in Scotland (10%) and Northern Ireland (9%). The evasion rate in England and Wales was around 6% in March 2016.

Additional information

More information about Parliamentary debate on the TV licence fee is available in the Debate Pack for the Westminster Hall debate on E-Petition 170931 (17.11.2017).

Detailed information about TV licence fee collection, concessions and complaints is available on the TV licencing website.

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