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 £159 for colour and £53.50 for a black and white.

Key points

Licence fee revenues reached over £3.75 billion in 2021

TV License fee revenues in 2020/21 were £3.75 billion which was higher than the 2019/20 figure of £3.52 billion (in cash terms). 

The increase in 2020/21 on the previous year was attributed to raising £186 million more from TV licences for those aged 75 and over than from the DWP grant. 

However the £435 million received from the over-75s in 2020/21 was less than the £656 million received from the DWP in 2017/18 which was the last year that over-75 TV licences were fully funded by the DWP.

Licence fee accounted for 74% of BBC funding in 2020/21

Total BBC income in 2020/21 was £5.06 billion, 74% of which came from the licence fee revenues. The remaining 26% or £1.31 billion came from commercial and other activities (such as grants, royalties and rental income).

95% of households own a TV in 2020

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

Due to the pandemic, figures are not available for 2020/21. The BBC estimates that evasion trends are in line with long term trends from 2016/17 to 2019/20 with the evasion rate ranging from 6.57% to 7.25%.

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.