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THE Independent Television Commission (ITC) have announced the licence fee tariffs payable by their licensees in 2002.
The fees cover the ITC's costs of regulating and licensing commercially funded television services.
The ITC's statutory functions are to ensure: that a wide range of services is available throughout the UK; there is fair and effective competition in the provision of services and services connected with them and the provision of services, which are of high quality and offer a wide range of programmes calculated to appeal to a variety of tastes and interests.
Over the past five years total licence fees levied by the ITC have ranged between £17.4 million and £18.7 million depending on business need. For 2001 licence fees were held for the second year running at £17.4 million.
The Commission have decided that the licence fee tariffs in 2002 should generate a total income of £18.1m in order to meet expenditure on regulatory obligations. The total revenue to be raised from licence fees increases from 2001 by £0.7m, a real increase of 1.5 per cent over the projected rate of inflation for the year.
In addition to normal business, 2002 will be a year of preparation for OFCOM. A Bill to bring together the five communications regulators into a single body is expected to be introduced next year. Government has announced that a paving body will be established next summer. These changes will generate additional costs both in advising Government on the content of the Bill and in ensuring normal business can be conducted during a period of uncertainty, transfer and change.
The Commission is determined to keep these costs to a minimum and does not wish to burden licensees with a commitment that cannot, at this stage, be determined with precision. It has agreed, therefore, to the principle of a supplementary tariff to be levied mid-year, when the timetable and nature of OFCOM developments is clear. That tariff will be based on the level of normal licence fees paid by each licensee in 2002 and will be payable in the second half of the year. The ITC's current expectation is that additional income of between £0.5m and £1m will be required.
The supplementary fee does not include the direct costs associated with the creation of OFCOM. The ITC understands provision for these costs will be made by government. (CD)
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