A growing number of public figures are joining a backlash against the BBC licence fee.
Opposition to the annual levy has been stoked in recent weeks by the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand scandal.
But there had already been widespread discontent over the threatening behaviour of licence-fee collectors and the perceived bias of the BBC.
An array of influential names are now threatening to withhold their fee out of principal.
They include TV presenter Robin Page and journalist Charles Moore, who says he won’t pay if Ross stays on the BBC payroll following his and Brand’s infamous taunting of Andrew Sachs.
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The ranks of licence fee ‘refuseniks’ already include TV presenter Noel Edmonds, and there are claims that the BBC is running scared of prosecuting those who refuse to pay the £139.50 annual levy on the grounds it is unjustified.
It has been alleged that the corporation fears creating a group of licence fee ‘martyrs’ if it enters into high-profile prosecutions of well-known faces.
Many ordinary members of the public say they have been the victim of ‘bullyboy’ tactics.
Some claim to have received more than 80 warning letters threatening court action and a possible £1,000 fine even when they do not own a TV or have paid.
Edmonds has said he has stopped paying his licence fee because of its ‘threatening’ advertising campaigns.
He has effectively challenged them to prosecute him after he decided to take a stand against the negative and aggressive tactics of collection.