The looming battle for the BBC licence fee

The run up to the next review of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2016 is already showing signs of being dominated by public debate on the subject of the obligatory licence fee. The BBC itself is of course keen to perpetuate that guaranteed source of income and, according to a recent report in the Daily Telegraph, may even begin to use those funds to produce advertising to persuade the British public why it should continue to provide them.

“The BBC must “get aggressive” about selling its virtues to the nation, director-general Lord Hall has argued, as he disclosed the corporation will be using its own airwaves to convince viewers it is good value.

Lord Hall has said the BBC must be “less British” about telling the public the £145.50 licence fee is worth paying, as he insisted it is “quite wrong” to accuse the corporation of dominating the media.

His statement raises the possibility that the BBC could place advertisements or trailers on its own channels in the run-up to the licence fee being considered in 2016, spelling out its benefits to viewers.”

The opposing case for the abolition of the licence fee and its replacement with voluntary subscription was recently made in an interesting article in The Commentator by Tim Congdon.

“Time and technology wait for no organisation, no matter how revered. The next two years will see a lively debate over the future of the British Broadcasting Corporation, with the current Royal Charter due to run out at the end of 2016. The early talk is of an extension of the licence fee for a further decade to 2026, but of possible reductions in its value and certainly of freezing it in real terms.

According to an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph last month, 70 per cent of voters believe that the licence fee should be abolished or cut.”

What do BBC Watch readers think? Can the case for payment enforced by law still be made in the digital age and how would you feel about your licence fee being used to create adverts to persuade you to continue paying it? Tell us in the comments below. 

Related articles:

New BBC DG coy on subject of licence fee

5 comments on “The looming battle for the BBC licence fee

  1. I think there are two questions.
    1) Is the principle of a TV Licence Fee,
    2) Is the BBC fit for purpose.

    1) I would not object if the principle of a TV Licence Fee is kept, but it should be reduced and made available to ALL broadcasters.
    For example why shouldn’t SkyArts be able to receive money from the Fee after all there is a good argument that these days they produce Arts TV as good as if not better than the BBC.
    Sport that is transmitted on ‘Free’ TV channels should also be able to tap into the funds raised by the Fee, irrespective of which TV channel is broadcasting them.

    2) Is the BBC fit for purpose? No.
    It needs to slim down and return to its core purpose, TV and Radio programmes that educate and inform not ‘editorialise’ or give opinion as a substitute for fact. And most importantly stop talking down to the audience and treating them as if they were incapable of understanding or appreciating quality programmes.

  2. I would absolutely love to work at a company where the public at large is forced by the threat of jail to buy my products whether they wanted them or not. Frankly the BBC’s commercial model is less ethical than a drug pusher’s.

  3. Surely the licence fee is an anachronism in these days of multi-channel broadcasting. Why should the BBC be feather-bedded in this way? I can appreciate an argument which says that since the BBC makes nature documentaries and costume dramas well a fee should be retained to enable it to continue to do so. But if a licence fee is to be retained it should be scaled down so that the BBC can indulge in no junkets, pay no grotesquely inflated salaries to its clique of favourites, engage in no wasteful enterprises, etc.
    The licence fee is an extortionate poll tax that at present enables the BBC, by having money to burn, to go far beyond its remit, providing all sorts of online information and gimmicky services. There is too much leftist-influenced material of that kind, all tailored to a leftist politically correct agenda. Out with it all! It’s unconscionable that the public have to fund the BBC’s propaganda.

  4. So much of the BBC’s output is excellent, whether TV or radio. The problem of the left-leaning bias is not easy to solve – for years it has been able to bat away criticism of its political stance, and do we want a FOX NEWS type of output as an alternative.
    I listen to BBC Radio more than watching TV and have become more selective in what I choose to tune into ie I avoid some programmes, such as “Today”. Cousins in the USA tell me they watch and listen to PBS broadcasting by preference.
    I also have an aversion to adverts breaking up the flow of films etc.
    Perhaps the answer would be a different form of regulation – I’ll put that to my MP.
    Plus I no longer have to pay the licence fee, having attained the ripe old age of 75! I have however been paying it for about 50 years……….

  5. Break up the BBC Very Soon

    A long succession of atrocious financial and sex scandals culminating in the post mortem exposure of the 52-years of child rape and paedophilia on BBC premises by the late Sir Jimmy Savile together with other BBC employees show the BBC to be a corrupt criminal organisation.

    The crimes of its employees go to the heart of British society, involving former police officers, doctors and employees at 32 British hospitals and, doubtless, as yet unindicted senior BBC executives.

    It is a liability to Britain, fostering national contempt, vandalism, large-scale criminal licence fee avoidance and international ridicule. The leftist bias of its news output and inadequate national sports coverage despite a £3.5 billion television taxpayer-funded annual budget are additions to its national liability. Today no nation needs a national broadcaster and certainly not such a one. The Greeks have shown the way by swiftly breaking up theirs

    The BBC should be broken up without delay.

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