Nearly two million households told the BBC they no longer wanted their licence license last year equating to £42 million in lost revenue.
A total of 1.96 million households said they did not watch the BBC or other live television in 2021-22, a rise of 270,000 on the previous year.
The figures in TV Licensing’s annual report warn licence fee income will continue to decline as more people switch to streaming services or decide they can no longer afford the £159-per-year outlay.
The report says:
“The BBC expects its licence fee income will fall, at least in the short-to-medium-term, because of cost of living increases since the start of 2022, and the continuing decline in licence sales arising from changes in how audiences view television content.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said the BBC has a problem with “groupthink” and needs saving from itself.
Ms Dorries – who froze the BBC licence fee in January – likened the broadcaster to a “polar bear on a shrinking ice cap.”
Speaking to the Sunday Times, she said:
“There is a problem with groupthink within the BBC, and I don’t think those people think they are left or they are right.
“I think they just believe they are absolutely right about everything. And they have a world view and a view of the UK, which is, I think, sometimes very wrong.
“Our responsibility is to save the BBC from itself, because it is that polar bear on a shrinking ice cap.”
She said she thought the BBC’s funding model would not exist “into the future” regardless of her actions as Secretary because “it will hit the buffers as more people refuse to pay the licence fee.”
Questions on how the BBC should be funded and how the corporation should adapt to evolving consumer habits and needs are due to be explored in a new inquiry by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston, chair of the committee, said:
“The broadcasting landscape is shifting rapidly, with intense competition, rising production costs and changing viewing habits.
“Developments in technology have led to increasing choice for people about what they watch, how and when.
“Our inquiry will look at this changing media landscape and examine how the BBC should be funded in the future to deliver what is needed from a national public service broadcaster.”
BBC bosses have warned that the licence fee freeze will leave them with an annual £285 million shortfall by 2027-28.
The TV Licensing’s annual report shows there has also been a large increase in the evasion rate, which reached 8.9 per cent in 2021-22.
The BBC has blamed this on the lack of home visits by TV Licensing enforcers during Covid and the inclusion of over-75s in the evasion figures following the scrapping of their free licences.
According to the report one in 10 over-75s has ignored the BBC’s letters telling them to pay for a licence or apply for a free one.