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Licence fee opponents change views in BBC deprivation test

BBCHouseholds that either would like to be exempted from paying the UK licence fee and not receive BBC services, or who would like to pay a reduced fee, are likely to change their minds if deprived of the pubcaster’s content, according to a study carried out by MTM for the broadcaster.

The BBC commissioned the survey to understand what households that said they would forgo the BBC or who thought the licence fee was too high valued and what, if anything, they would miss. MTM surveyed 70 households nationally, of which 22 said they would prefer to pay nothing and not receive the BBC and 24 said they would be willing to pay less than the current licence fee for the current BBC. Twenty-two of the surveyed households said they would be willing to pay the licence fee or more to continue to receive services.

All members of each household agreed to forgo BBC access across all platforms for nine days. Apps and websites were removed or blocked, TV channels locked, and pre-set radio stations changed.

At the end of the period, the survey found that of the 48 households who originally said they would prefer to not pay at all and not receive the BBC, or who wanted to pay a lower licence fee, 33 changed their minds and said they were now willing to pay the full licence fee for the BBC.

Participants cited being unable to find alternatives for programmes and services they enjoy on the BBC; valuing advert-free programmes, not being able to find educational content to match CBBC and CBeebies, missing access to Red Button and BBC iPlayer, news and sport content and an inability to find a replacement for BBC Radio 2 among the reasons for changing their mind.

Twenty-one out of the 22 households who originally said that they were happy to pay the licence fee or more still held this view, and 15 of these households believed this even more strongly, according to the BBC.

“This rigorous study enabled us to follow a group of UK households through their weekly routine to explore their media habits and to identify those occasions – the big must-see shows or the small moments woven into their daily lives – where they felt a sense of loss without the BBC,” said Nick North, director of BBC Audiences.

“The results showed overwhelmingly that most people felt they got great value from the BBC when they came to realise the full range and breadth of what we provide – often in quite stark contrast to what they thought in advance of the experiment.”

Tags: BBC, MTM, UK