A letter threatening prosecution over the regressive tax on live TV
A letter threatening prosecution over the regressive tax on live TV Credit: Michael Josem

Freezing the United Kingdom’s BBC license fee will benefit the people of the Isle of Man, and plans to end the regressive tax have the potential to help improve the Manx economy by millions of pounds a year.

Under the current regressive tax on live broadcast television in the Isle of Man, millions of pounds are taken out of the Manx economy and sent to the United Kingdom every year, according to Transceltic.com. Such a regressive tax imposes a higher burden, proportionally, on the poorest members of the Manx community.

Currently, the people of Mann are slugged twice to fund public broadcasting, by being forced to pay the regressive tax on live television, while also being forced to subsidise Manx Radio out of other tax payments.

Over the weekend, Nadine Dorries, the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced on Twitter that the current license fee announcement will be the last, and opened a discussion on new, modern, forms of funding the BBC.

More details

Dorries announced further details on Monday 17 January. Dorries gave Manx families a respite from surging taxes and charges (in recent months, the Isle of Man Government has gone along with increased taxes on hospitality services, announced higher taxes on construction, and announced a maintenance of high taxes on air travel) with the license fee remaining at £159 until 2024, and subsequently rising in line with inflation for four years.

Opportunity for improved Manx content

Currently, several million pounds are taken from Manx residents and directed to funding the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. A revised settlement might allow Manx residents to fund Manx news and cultural productions instead.

Manx journalist, Sam Turton, said that under the current arrangements, the people of the Isle of Man “are getting a worse deal than anyone else in the British Isles.”

Other nations

The Australian Labor Party abolished the Australian television license fee in 19741, after it had operated for around fifty years. The New Zealand National Party abolished the New Zealand broadcasting fee in 19992, which had operated for only eleven years. In Canada, the Canadian Liberal Party abolished their fee to receive live broadcasts in the early 1950s3. Taxpayers in Australia, New Zealand and Canada now fund national broadcasters out of general taxation revenue, similar to how Manx taxpayers fund Manx Radio from general taxation revenue.

Dorries announcement made from Isle of Man

Coincidentally, Dorries was in the Isle of Man over the weekend, where she visited the war memorial of her great uncle. Dorries’ great uncle died in service during World War 1, and his service is commemorated on the Isle of Man.

A TV licensing enforcement letter.
  1. Treasurer Frank Crean, Budget Speech, p.17
  2. Minister Tony Ryall
  3. Finance Minister Douglas Abbott Budget Speech, p.21