The BBC has issued tenders worth a cumulative £2.5m to recruit six PR agencies to promote the benefits of paying a monthly TV licence fee and articulate the consequences of non-payment throughout the UK over a three to five-year period.
Starting in April 2019 the successful firms will serve as the ‘face of TV licensing in their geographical area’. Their remit will be to deliver a ‘strategic programme of TV licensing communications’ across all nations and regions of the UK.
The work is split into six regions: London and the South East, Midlands and East Anglia, Northern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The chosen teams will be tasked with fielding enquiries from journalists as well as placing stories in local papers about who must purchase a £150.50 colour licence by law or face a £1,000 penalty.
Social media promotion of the fee on ‘Twitter and beyond’ is also a stipulated requirement on tender documents.
A TV licensing spokesman commented: “The work of the agencies and the BBC’s TV Licensing communications team has been proven to bring in more money from TV licence sales than it costs.
"Those working on TV Licensing communications perform a completely different job to the BBC press office, including spending half their time on working with stakeholders such as money advice organisations to help people pay their licence.
"We will, as always, be looking for the best value for money in the procurement and we have kept the cost of these contracts down at the same level for the last decade."
Dubbing the initiative as a ‘new network of external spin doctors’ The Times lashed out at the perceived extravagance, claiming the investment was equivalent to 16,000 TV licences and didn't include the broadcaster’s current in-house enforcement team.
The BBC has warned it is struggling to compete against the deep pockets of online streaming providers with increased competition driving up prices.