Radical changes to the law will see those refusing to pay the £145.50 TV licence fee escape criminal action, under new reforms by MPs.
Those dodging payments under current laws could face a fine of up to £1,000, an appearance in court and criminal record.
That could now change with more than 100 cross-party backbench MPs backing steps to decriminalise non-payment.
It is hoped the move will relieve pressure on overstretched criminal courts. Licence fee evasion accounts for around one in nine cases at Magistrates Court, with 70 people jailed each year.
But any reforms are expected to be fiercely opposed by BBC chiefs, who say the law change would open the floodgates to more evasion cases and could reduce its operating budget by millions.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The Culture Secretary and I both agree that this is a really interesting idea - particularly given the pressure on our courts system. Our departments will be doing some serious work on the proposal.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Legislation is a matter for the Government, however changing the law could lead to higher evasion. Just a 1 per cent increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around £35 million, the equivalent of around 10 BBC Local Radio stations.”
The reform could become law within months as a growing number of backbench MPs support an amendment to the coalition’s Deregulation Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.