Gary Lineker, one of the BBC’s highest paid presenters, has called for the TV licence fee to be voluntary.
In an interview with The Guardian, the former footballer and Match of the Day presenter said the annual charge was the BBC’s “fundamental problem”.
“You’re forced to pay it if you want a TV, and therefore it’s a tax,” he is quoted as saying. “The public pay our salaries, so everyone is a target.”
His comments come amid mounting debate on the future of the licence fee.
Last week culture secretary Baroness Morgan told the BBC the subject was “coming up more and more on the doorstep”.
Lineker said he had “always said for a long time” the £154.50 annual charge should be voluntary while admitting he did not know “the logistics of how it would work”.
“You would lose some people, but at the same time you’d up the price a bit”, said the presenter, whose BBC salary was between £1,750,000 and £1,754,999 in 2018-19.
His BBC salary was revealed in the most recent annual report from the corporation.
“[The licence fee] is the price of a cup of coffee a week at the moment,” he continued. “If you put it up you could help older people, or those that can’t afford it.”
Last year the BBC said it was scrapping free TV licences for all over-75s and would limit the provision to low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit.
The online publication of The Guardian’s interview saw Lineker receive praise from his usual sparring-partner ITV presenter Piers Morgan for making “a sensible point“.