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Face Facts Contributes to BBC Licence Fee Research

Face Facts Research in Leeds is proud to have contributed to the BBC’s recently published research into its licence fee.

Working on the initial study in 2014-15 and again in 2020-21, Face Facts is thrilled to have undertaken fieldwork research that informed the BBC.

The BBC was keen to discover how people felt without access to the national broadcaster and so commissioned a longitudinal study. The outcome of the most recent project, published on 3rd May, may influence both BBC critics and the Government.

Having partnered with researchers MTM, Face Facts operated as the market research fieldwork provider for an exciting research approach.  

‘The deprivation study’ explored the value that the BBC delivers to UK households for the licence fee. 

The fieldwork team at Face Facts managed the recruitment and facilitation of households, who were asked to not watch or use any BBC products and services, on any platform, for a period of 9 days and then to provide feedback on their experiences. The study has been used to demonstrate the value that the BBC delivers to UK households for the licence fee. 

At the end of 2020 Face Facts was commissioned to repeat the household recruitment for the deprivation exercise, only this time the team knew it would be a challenge – but one they were keen to take on!

Johanna Jones (Director) said:

“We love working with the team at MTM and were really excited that we were given another opportunity to work on the next wave of this project. It’s a very detailed interlocking recruit with not much flex. It was essential that we found the right audience for the research.”  

80 households were intricately recruited by the experienced Face Facts team across sixteen UK locations (including Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales), totalling almost 200 household members. The fieldwork was staggered over the course of four waves of research to mitigate the impact of seasonal differences in schedules.

  • Wave 1 took place between the 12th and 20th December 2020 covering the central belt of Scotland, North East of England, West Midlands and Bristol. 
  • Wave 2 took place between the 9th and 17th January 2021 covering Cardiff, Liverpool, Leicester and Reading. 
  • Wave 3 took place between the 20th and 28th March 2021 covering Belfast, Aberdeen, York, Norwich, London, and the South Coast of England. 
  • Wave 4 took place between the 17th and 25th April 2021 covering Swansea and surrounding areas, Blackpool and Preston.

The recruitment was key to ensuring that different types of households from around the UK were included in the research. Complex criteria and interlocking quotas based on household formats ensured a diverse mix of respondents across single, pre-family, couples/shared, with-family (mix of children’s ages and number of children), older family and post-family. 

Ensuring an interlocking mix of households with different financial backgrounds (comfortable, coping or finding things difficult) were recruited within each sample and the project specifically targeted those who had a varied mix of TV/Video services, Audio (radio & podcasts) and internet behaviours and a mix of programme genres typically watched. 

Recruiting participants that shared mixed impressions of the BBC and other media providers ensured that all bases were covered. The Face Facts team managed key quotas to ensure participants were sourced on their different attitudes to include people who would rather pay nothing, pay less or pay more for the licence fee. 

All households were sent a ‘Household Pack’ before the first interview. This was divided into discrete packs for each stage of the research to ensure the media service they would be deprived of remained shielded. The pack also included a prepaid and addressed envelope to return their completed materials.

Respondents were asked to be fully engaged across the project and at the recruitment stage, it was important to make sure everyone was one hundred percent committed. Each household completed a Media Diary every day (capturing real-life behaviour) and filmed their experiences across the week. In addition, they had to participate in two family interviews; one at the start of the deprivation study and another at the end of the 9 days. They also each provided in-the-moment video clips. Face Facts coordinated every interview within a managed timeframe.

Respondents were given clear information about the rules and were asked to be completely honest by recording this in their video diary as part of the research.  

Julie Gaughan (Joint Owner) said:

“Working on a project with all these recruitment complexities it’s essential that the project team is fully aware of all aspects of the recruit, every detail is thoroughly thought out and carefully managed. The dedication of our internal projects team and our extensive RAS recruitment team made this all possible.”

Respondents were given the equivalent cost of the licence fee for the nine days to see what difference if any, it made to their initial views of the licence fee and the BBC. The licence fee value worked out to be less than £4. (The BBC licence fee is £159 per year, or £53.50 for black and white TVs).

The study provided interesting results. Before the research began, 30 households said they wanted to pay nothing and not receive the BBC’s services; another 30 said they would pay less than the current licence fee and the remaining 20 said they would pay the current fee or more.

Out of the 60 who were not keen on the current amount, 42 said they would now pay the full licence fee or more after the experiment – meaning 70% of respondents changed their minds and only one household out of the 20 who initially supported the licence fee said they would pay less.

Interestingly the 2020-21 results echo the findings from the initial study in 2014 and 2015 into the public’s perception – indicating that the majority of the British public still loves the Beeb and remains willing to pay for its content and services! 

Read the full article here:

Access the full report here:

Learn more about Face Facts Research Services here.

If you have a project brief and you need to talk to the qual and quant experts, our research team is available to talk through your needs or to supply a quote. Simply contact Face Facts Research via 0113 397 9800 or email:

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