Friday, 27 January 2023

Is the BBC worth the increase in license fee?

First of all, let me reiterate: I am a Fool.  Forgive me if my comments may sound idiotic. 

Should I be forced to pay a license fee to the BBC, if I have a TV but I do not watch the BBC?  In this country, apparently so.  Most people would look at me askance and suspect me of wrongdoing.  That is, they think I’m lying.  Well, I’m not lying, but that’s because I don’t have a TV.  Of course, I would watch the BBC if I had a TV.  You can’t help it when you’re flipping through the channels and stop because something interests you.  Our family has gone out of the habit of watching TV.  But I will say that I have enjoyed some BBC programming.  I will not deny they have some quality programmes.  I feel somewhat confident in their news reporting.  They try to stay objective, but in their strive to remain objective, they sometimes appear rather aggressively opposed to many different views.

But, there are other points to consider.  The BBC have a monopoly.  We have to pay a TV license for the privilege, not to watch the BBC, but to watch TV.  All the proceeds of the TV license goes to the BBC.  All right, some will argue that the other stations rely on commercial support.  Yes, that’s because they have no other options.  And, in doing so, they have ads interrupting programmes all the time.  Just like in the US.  Most people hate that.  And in this recession, many sponsors have taken away their support.  So, the other networks have faced financial difficulties.  This makes the BBC monopoly even stronger.  If that TV license fee goes to support all the networks, will it improve anything?  Who knows.

Billions of pounds are collected in TV licenses each year.  How is the money allotted?  I’m sure the BBC have their budgets already planned in advance.  Can we, the public, view it somewhere?  FOI does apply here.  After the MP scandal, I’d like to check out the BBC expenses.  We’ve already established that the news readers get paid far too much – much, much more than they’re worth.  What other excesses are there?

I suspect that one of those excesses is in collecting the TV license fee.  I’ve heard that the BBC spends 130 million pounds in collecting the fee.  Is this cost-effective?  I remember the threatening letters from the BBC, practically implying that we had a TV but were not paying our license fee.  Did they send someone around to spy on our house and determine that we did not, in fact, own a TV?  If so, is that how we want our money being spent?

The Commons is debating freezing the license fee.  Now, three pounds does not sound like much, but it might to the poor and unemployed.  They say the rise is due to inflationary costs.  What inflation?  Didn’t we hear that we’re approaching deflation?  Shouldn’t the fee decrease?  How does Sir Michael Lyons mean that the freeze would curb editorial independence?  I understand that the BBC uses the license fee monies to fund new programming, but where do they place new programming?  It seems there’s already a schedule with occasional specials.  If they put in a new programme, they need to take out a programme in order to make room.  So, if you take away a programme, you’ve just saved some money for the new programme.

I like the BBC.  I support what they do.  But, they need to consider cleaning house before they ask the public to hand over more money to them.  Sympathy and support go only so far.  The BBC may be value for money, but increasing the money doesn’t always increase the value.  Look at Jonathan Ross and the expensive news readers.

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