France will abolish its television licence fee as part of a package of measures to address the increasing cost of living. The move has been approved by the French Senate. It was promised by President Macron as part of his re-election campaign. The government has pledged to replace the fee with public subsidies funded by VAT sales tax, at least until the end of 2024. The development will be closely watched in other countries that still employ television licence fee funding.
The €138 euro licence fee is paid by 27 million of the 38 million households in France. There are exemptions for homes with low incomes. The licence fee raises €3.2 billion of the €3.8 billion budget of French state media providers, including France Télévisions, Radio France, Radio France Internationale, and Arte.
The licence fee will be abolished in the autumn. It will be matched by public subsidies. This will be a temporary measure until the end of 2024 to allow time to develop a roadmap for the future. Opponents argue that ending the licence fee before agreeing an alternative could weaken public service broadcasting.
Television licence fee funding has been seen as increasingly anachronistic and has been abolished by many countries.
The ending of the television licence in France could have implications for the funding of the BBC in the United Kingdom.
The television licence fee in the United Kingdom has been frozen at £159 a year per household until April 2024 and will then rise with inflation for four years. It will generate around £3.7 billion in licence fee funding in 2022 and £23 billion over the six-year period.
Nadine Dorries, the current culture minister, has said that this will be the last licence fee settlement.
A review of the licence fee arrangements has been delayed while the Conservative party elects its next leader and prime minister.
The Royal Charter sets out that the current licence fee model for funding the BBC should remain in place until at least the end of 2027.