Manx Government Respond on TV Licence Queries

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

The Communications Commission has responded to the query sent on 27th January 2015 to the Chief Minister, Allan Bell, MHK, (CM) raising a number of queries about broadcast licence fees levied in the Isle of Man.

The full text of the Commissions response is set out below;

“Mr J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League
3 Imman Stronnag
Peel
Isle of Man

IM5 1GP

Our Ref:3255/CMcL/ll

04/02/2015

Dear Mr Moffatt

Your letter of 27 January to the Chief Minister regarding the TV licence fee has been forwarded to me for reply. For ease of reference I am responding using your questions and numbering in italics:

1) The amount of money collected in the Isle of Man in TV Licence fees on an annual basis?

As of the end of the financial year 2013/14 there were approximately 33,000 licences in force in the Isle of Man contributing an estimated £4.8m to overall BBC licence fee income. In a response to the Select Committee of Tynwald on the Television Licence Fee (1) the BBC estimated licence fee income for 2008/09 from the Isle of Man at £4.5 million. This was based on the BBC’s statement that at the end of 2008/09 there were 32,091 licensed homes on the Isle of Man.

2) The amount of money the BBC expend maintaining their online web service here and any funding they provide as part of their ‘local radio programming’ remit to fund other services here – if any?

The journalism derogation under the UK Freedom of Information Act exempts the BBC from releasing this information. However in their submission to the Tynwald Select Committee the BBC estimated that:

“Assessing purely local (as opposed to regional) spend and defining this as radio and online services the average cost per head for England and the Crown Dependencies is estimated to be £2.00. By contrast we estimate the cost for the Isle of Man to be around £2.35. Taking television services into account, the average cost for all regional and local services is £3.75. For the Isle of Man in isolation this is estimated to be £4.00.”

(1) https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/pp/Reports/2011-PP-0108.pdf

a) When was the right to levy a broadcasting licence extended to the Isle of Man?

As set out in the Tynwald Select Committee report:

“The BBC originated in the 1920s and was funded by a licence fee from its inception. The first mention of the BBC in Tynwald was in 1934…The Governor, Sir Montagu Butler, acknowledged that the Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1904 to 1926 (of the UK Parliament) extended to the Isle of Man and that the BBC’s area of operations included the Island.”

b) Was the extension of the facility to levy a licence introduced at the request of the Government of the Isle of Man or was the move initiated by the United Kingdom?

As the UK Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1904 to 1926 were introduced long ago and at a different period in the Island’s history it is not possible to determine how the provisions were extended to the Isle of Man.

However, the TV Licence fee provision is contained in the UK Communications Act 2003) and is extended to the Island by the Communications (Isle of Man) Order 2003. The Order is a piece of United Kingdom legislation that was made with the agreement of the Isle of Man Government after Tynwald approved the principle of extending provisions of the UK’s Communications Act 2003 to the Island when that Act replaced the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 (of Parliament).

c) Why was the decision taken to allow an off Island body to act as enforcement agent on the Island? Was it not previously a duty undertaken by the Isle of Man Post Office and would not an agency role like this be a useful addition to its funding at a time it seems to be fiscally stretched?

The BBC is required to issue TV Licences and collect the licence fee under the UK Communications Act 2003. “TV Licensing” is a trade mark used by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system. The majority of the administration of TV Licensing is at this time contracted to the UK business, Capita Business Services Ltd (‘Capita’).

The BBC pays the Isle of Man Post Office to provide over-the counter services. It is though a matter for the BBC to contract such services

Given that the Isle of Man government also provide a subvention (in effect a licence fee levied via taxation) to Manx Radio can you advise if citizens in any part of the United Kingdom or its crown dependencies are taxed twice for their broadcasting services?

The Isle of Man Government provides a subvention to Manx Radio; this is not a licence fee. Furthermore, the BBC does not regard the TV licence to be a tax. Consequently it is not correct to consider that Isle of Man residents are taxed twice for broadcasting services.

In the UK, where a community radio station lies totally within the transmission area of a commercial station with a population coverage of under 150,000, no sponsorship or advertising can be sought and all funding comes from alternative sources including public grants.

Is the Manx government aware of any dependency or territory in which BBC services were or are available (i.e. receivable) in which no licence payment was levied?

BBC material is available in many countries that do not pay the BBC TV licence. For example the BBC broadcasts BBC World Service, sells BBC programming and formats world-wide and provides BBC TV channels under a commercial arrangement – i.e. with ads or on a per subscriber charge basis.

Yours sincerely

Carmel McLaughlin
Director”

The Celtic League welcomes the detailed response from the Commission on behalf of the CMs Office

Link to original query to the Chief Minister at Celtic League archive;

https://www.celticleague.net/news/league-query-manx-government-on-licence-fee/

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information

05/02/15

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.

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