Licence fee and funding

The BBC is primarily funded by the licence fee, supplemented by income from our commercial subsidiaries

Funding through the TV licence

A standard TV licence is currently £159

A TV licence is required if you:

  • watch or record live TV programmes on any channel
  • download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer - live, catch up or on demand

This applies to any provider you use and any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

What the licence fee pays for

The licence fee allows us to provide a wide range of TV, radio and online content, as well as developing new ways to deliver it to you. In addition to funding BBC programmes and services, a proportion of the licence fee contributed to the costs of rolling out broadband to the UK population and funds Welsh Language TV channel S4C and local TV channels.

The licence fee allows the BBC's UK services to remain free of advertisements and independent of shareholder and political interest.

Commercial income

The licence fee is supplemented by income from the activities of our three commercial subsidiaries - BBC Studios, BBC Global News and BBC Studioworks.

  • Commercial servicesOur commercial operations generate income to invest in new programmes and content

Ensuring value for money

The way in which we are funded means that we need to ensure that the BBC offers value for money for those who pay for it. This means investing as much money as possible on providing the content and services which you want.

We do this by:

  • Reduction in overheads
    Overheads remain at industry-leading levels, at only 5% of our total costs, with 95% directed to audience-facing content and services
  • Talent spend reduction
    During 2019/20, spend on on-air roles represented 10% of total internal creative content spend
  • Making overall savings
    £199 million of annual savings were delivered in 2019/20. Since 2016/17, we have delivered £618 million of cumulative savings

In 2019/20 this is how your monthly licence fee was spent:

Graph to show how the monthly licence fee is spent in 2019/20. The monthly licence fee is £12.88 per household. Of this the following sums were spent: £6.83 on television, £2.22 on radio, £1.24 on BBC World Service, £0.88 on other services and production costs, £1.24 on BBC online and £0.47 on licence fee collection and other costs
How your monthly licence fee is spent