Introduced in 1923, more than 25 million UK TV owners pay the annual license fee that fund the BBC’s television and radio operations. Non-payment is considered a criminal offence and can result in a hefty fine. As other European nations move away from mandatory license fees, should the UK government follow suit?
No, the license should not be mandatoryShow moreShow less
The BBC license fee surmounts to a regressive tax that disproportionately affects poor households, for a service that not everyone makes use of.
Market failures are major drivers of innovation. Without exposure to market failures, the BBC will never be a media or broadcasting innovator.
If the license fee was not mandatory, and people could voluntarily give money to the BBC, it would force the BBC to become more imaginative in the ways they could appeal to users. The drive to prove value and persuade people to voluntarily give the BBC their cash would lead more innovation in resource allocation, content generation and delivery. 
This is visible in the way the BBC has responded to the changing media landscape of the 21st century. It has lacked innovation and instead sough to copy models from the private sector. Radio 1 and 2 were a response to the emerging pirate radio models, BBC News 24 was a response to Sky News rolling out a 24 hour news channel, and reality TV voting on programs came from ITV and Channel 4s early adoption of the format.
- The i-Player, which Netflix is an imitation of, was invented and rolled out by the BBC years before.
- The BBC's spending has given rise to the most successful creative industry in the world (per capita).
[P1] Market failures inspire innovation.
[P2] The BBC is protected from market failures by a mandatory license fee.
[P3] Therefore, the BBC is not as innovative as it could be under an alternative model.
[P4] Therefore, the license should not be mandatory.