NOW OPEN: the MSE Forum 'Ask An Expert' event. This time we'd like your questions on TRAVEL & HOLIDAY DEALS. Post by Wed and deals expert MSE Oli will answer as many as he can.
Government petition to have a referendum on the TV licence
in TV MoneySaving
17 replies 413 views
This discussion has been closed.
Latest MSE News and Guides
Energy Price Cap change
Martin Lewis on what it means for youMSE News
Best £1 you've ever spent?
Share your most impressive bargainsMSE Forum
New MSE Forum avatars available
Try 'em out nowMSE Forum
The question of whether the BBC is "good and worthwhile" is the wrong question - of course some people think that it's good and worthwhile, and that is a subjective judgement - a matter of opinion.
The appropriate questions IMHO are these:
1) Is the BBC essential? Does it provide an essential public service that cannot be found within commercial media, and that is so essential as to warrant special provision of public funds to replace or augment the commercial funding that typically supports media businesses?
2) Is the method of funding, and its enforcement the minimum necessary to support the essential elements of the BBC? That's a question of taxation approach, value for money, the size and scale of the BBC, its commitment to, and prioritisation of public service aims, and of the appropriateness and lawfulness of its enforcement approach.
I would say that both of these are open questions, and in my opinion the answer to both questions is: no. More specifically, I think that only the Public can say whether the BBC provides them an essential service, and they should be asked.
It has been a continual disappointment to me that in the very simplest of terms, MPs can look at a TV Licensing enforcement letter and call it acceptable. It disappoints me that despite lengthy Select Committee sessions, MPs have not asked the basic questions about TV Licensing: how is this supposed to work, and where is it justified in law? They need tp ask them and ask them again until the BBC provides satisfactory answers, including a commitment to change.
It's difficult to consider (the absence of) these questions, and not conclude that the relationship between the BBC and government is deeply unhealthy (way beyond what should be tolerated by either party).
2/ Enforcement, especially the letters, are threats to fine people who do not pay. Some people still watch live as shown TV even though they don't pay as the chances of the person being caught watching live as shown TV are so remote it's worth the risk to them.
I have said on the licence resistance forum that some might have Sky TV but only watch the Sky channels and a few other commercial channels and see it as they pay for Sky so why should they pay the BBC £159 of something they won't ever watch! The petition is over 12,000 now and has months left to run so it could easily pass the 100,000 mark.
BBC TV would then be left unencumbered and could be moved on to commercial funding, whilst still being publicly-owned.
BBC Radio is going to require some Government support under that scenario, though it would be interesting to see whether it would be feasible to have a shared audio/video feed from the regional newsrooms on radio and TV at certain times of day. As commercial media has retreated somewhat from truly regional radio, so the BBC has followed to an extent. (Although, the BBC has also shot itself in the foot by employing some quite expensive celebrity presenters for its local radio).
Is the BBC a "public service"?
Does it offer programmes that are different and distinct to commercial broadcasters? Does it offer programmes that commercial channels cannot, or will not make?
Does it justify a compulsory "TV tax" to fund what have become lowbrow entertainment channels? (There seems far more outrage that medical soap "Holby City" has been cancelled then that all new programming on "distinctive" BBC4 has been stopped!).
Looking at listings for BBC channels I'd have to say "no".
I'm expecting my next flurry of harassment and hate mail from TV Licencing in about six months.........
While I have no doubt that there are many who feel the BBC offers fantastic value, I'm not one of them, and it annoys me that to watch live sport, I have to give them money even if I'm not watching BBC channels the overwhelming majority of the time. I'm not their target audience, after all. Their programmes that draw the highest viewing figures aren't things I'm interested in, and maybe they produce something more obscure that I'd like but as I watch almost all films and TV shows on-demand, I never hear about it - and I don't feel like I'm missing anything by not taking an active interest in what's on the Beeb.
My Fire TV watchlist is full of movies and shows already, I doubt I could watch them all if I became a couch potato for five straight years. Even my Sky subscription barely gets a look-in anymore, although I do watch a couple of movies a month on Sky Cinema on-demand, and I still watch Sky Sports.
If people want to fund the BBC, that's great, let them. Freeview and Freesat present an issue with transferring entirely to a subscription-based setup, but perhaps they could figure out a commercial, ad-supported setup for those platforms, and offer a subscription service on other platforms and the web?
Whatever they do, they shouldn't be allowed to continue demanding funding from those who want to watch live/broadcast TV, but don't want to make use of the BBC. And they definitely shouldn't be permitted to send threatening letters to non-licence fee payers who have followed the rules about informing them properly, or send "investigators" around to try and catch people in the act. I don't need to prove to anyone that I'm not committing crimes with the carving knives in my kitchen, or the axe in my garage. Why should anyone have to tolerate some random knocking on their door, asking for proof that the TV, streaming box, phone, PC, tablet or any other device that they might be able to use to watch broadcast TV isn't being used to watch broadcast TV?
Sure, if it was the 1960s still and someone had a TV in their living room, safe bet they might be telling fibs about not needing a licence. But in the modern world, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to own several TVs without needing a licence, and harassing people who don't have a licence is completely unfair.
Why change the past when you can own this day?