Thursday, May 30, 2024

Stephen Metcalfe MP supports constituent’s campaign against “outdated” TV licensing laws

STEPHEN Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon & East Thurrock, raised the issue of TV licence prosecutions in the House of Commons – a matter on which a constituent has successfully made a petition.

Josiane Bazatoha, a constituent who started a petition to end the outdated TV licensing laws when she received notice that she was being charged with TV licence evasion, recently met Stephen to tell her story. Fortunately, following the intervention of the legal charity APPEAL, the charges were dropped. Nevertheless, Josiane’s case highlighted the need for change.

As it currently stands, you can be imprisoned for not paying for a TV licence. Concerningly, 75% of people convicted for TV licence evasion are women and TV licence evasion accounts for 18% of all female criminal prosecutions.

Josiane’s petition for decriminalisation received 250,000 signatures and Stephen raised the issue of TV licensing prosecutions in the House of Commons. You can watch the question here:

Following Stephen’s question, the Minister for Media, John Whittingdale, agreed to meet and receive the petition.

Stephen Metcalfe asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: “18% of female criminal prosecutions in 2021 were for the non-possession of a television licence which seems completely unreasonable. Will my Right Honourable Friend, therefore, agree to meet with me and my constituent, Josiane, to discuss this further and receive the 250,000-signature petition asking for decriminalisation?”

Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, answered: “I thank the Honourable Member – I am concerned that the criminal sanctions for TV licence evasion is increasingly disproportionate and unfair in a modern service-broadcasting system. Our review of the BBC funding model will consider whether a mandatory licence fee with criminal penalties is still appropriate and, as the Minister mentioned, the BBC has recently published the findings of its gender disparity review which sets out a ten-point plan of action which we will be monitoring.”


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