BBC licence fee rant, sort of

I had this all typed up to respond in a forum I participate in, but decided it wouldn’t be a good idea for multiple reasons.

In essence, the UK’s television licence fee requires you to register your television with ‘the authorities’ and pay about £120 per year for television channels and radio stations you may never watch or listen to.

There’s at least a couple of other ways just off the top of my head that the compulsory licence fee could be updated. For non-UK folks just remember that every TV owner, whether they watch/listen to the BBC or not, has to pay this fee – what if you only rent DVDs or edit videos of your cats? too bad! This is a problem with many people in the UK, but apparently the same method is used in Germany/Austria/Switzerland for public TV, and the issue hasn’t reached critical mass yet, really, so nothing is being proposed to change it.

Possible replacements to the TV licence? How about:

  • a limited, but highly priced advertising stream (charge advertisers more for adverts every 30-60 min or brief scroll-bys at the bottom of the screen or whatever), or
  • once the tech is in place (think what could happen with DAB radio and digital TV), a real subscription system where you pay just for Radio1 or BBC1 or whatever you prefer.
  • What about TV on demand and/or Sky+, Xbox, etc., you could have an even more streamlined pay-per-view system so F1 fans pay a small amount for a whole season’s worth of races (or one race at a time) or a Dr Who fan pays a small amount for a whole series of shows, etc.
  • I’ll agree that £10 a month is a bargain if you watch enough BBC stuff, and with shows like Planet Earth, Life (or anything with Sir David Attenborough) and the recent return of Formula 1 racing coverage, you can get good value for your £10 if you like them. The problem that people against the licence fee comes when people complain about the salaries of people like Chris Moyle’s and Johnathan Ross’s (popular but controversial radio/TV hosts), among other things. And with massive budget cuts looming for the BBC and digital piracy a long way from being sorted out the bosses will have to think of something to make sure shows are earning their keep, which will get the crap shows off the air faster because they’ll simply lose money.

    In essence, it’s a losing system and just because it’s ‘the way it has been done’ doesn’t mean it’s the best way forward.

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