Britain is looking at whether or not to decriminalise the penalty for non-payment of the £154.50 annual BBC licence fee tax on all television-watching households, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has questioned why the BBC should continue to be supported by the annual fee.

This is one of the biggest hints to date that the funding of Britain's main news provider could be upended. 

"What we are talking about as a first step is the decriminalisation of failing to pay the TV licence," Buckland told BBC radio. 

He said people during election campaigning had said they worried about the cost of the licence fee. 

"Is it right to criminalise and target a vulnerable section of society for what really is an issue of civil liability? We would consult on that to work out whether criminalisation is the right way to approach this issue," he said. 

It is a criminal offence to watch TV or use BBC iplayer in the UK without a valid TV licence.