10 thoughts on “The licence fee is obsolete – but a new BBC poll tax would be just as bad”

  1. Posted 05/03/2015 at 09:00 | Permalink

    Even if you agree with a publicly funded broadcaster (and one funded to the same extent as the BBC currently is), the TV licence system is indefensible. It is effectively a highly regressive tax – which makes it so surprising that those on the left defend it. Surely the whole argument in favour of public sector funding of anything is to make it accessible to those who cannot afford it. If we are to have a wholly publicly-funded broadcaster (which would not be my preference), then it should be funded by general taxation.

  2. Posted 05/03/2015 at 11:48 | Permalink

    Absolutely agree. I’ve been saying for years that a public service broadcaster only needs 1 television and 1 radio channel. There is no need for the BBC to broadcast pop music, sport (except perhaps a few iconic events such as the FA Cup Final and the Boat Race), quiz shows, reality TV and many others.

    A Public service should broadcast news and a few other items like messages for missing persons. There could be occasional slots to give new entertainers opportunities, but no need for regular programmes of that nature.

  3. Posted 05/03/2015 at 16:20 | Permalink

    The BBC has become very important as an employment opportunity for well-connected types, a sort of modern day version of a comfortable living in the church or a sinecure in the 17th century civil service.

    It’ll be very hard to reduce its size and funding just because it isn’t needed in its current bloated state.

  4. Posted 05/03/2015 at 17:11 | Permalink

    With the appalling bias in the state run BBC the licence fee is abhorrent to replace it with a poll tax is even more so.

  5. Posted 05/03/2015 at 18:21 | Permalink

    I’m not sure that the original case for PSB was ever convincing anyway – TV developed using advertising revenue on a free to view basis from very early days. The case for the BBC has been slim for years, yet it has grown, not declined

  6. Posted 05/03/2015 at 19:56 | Permalink

    Licence fee should be scrapped…BBC split up and sold to highest bidders…all TV companies should be required to provide a limited public broadcasting service.

  7. Posted 06/03/2015 at 02:14 | Permalink

    The case for a public service broadcaster is that its obligation is to the ones that are paying the bills – the public at large.

    The loyalties of a commercial broadcaster lie elsewhere. Its obligation is to its shareholders. Its job is to reap as much money as possible from advertisers, and it does this by competing for ratings. Ratings are a measure only of quantity. Quality matters little, this tends to a race to the bottom in the competition to lure as many eyes and ears as possible.

  8. Posted 06/03/2015 at 11:14 | Permalink

    @quem mittam – You are wrong. Commercial broadcasters don’t just chase ratings, they also chase demographics. They are as interested in the demographic of viewers as they are in the number. There would be little point in advertising expensive cars (for example) to a demographic dominated by low income viewers. High quality specific interest programming may attract fewer viewers, but it may attract far more of the viewers they want (i.e. their potential customers).

  9. Posted 06/03/2015 at 14:20 | Permalink

    @HJ – You write that I am wrong, yet you reinforce my point. We both agree that a commercial broadcaster is in the business of selling a commodity, the eyes and ears of an audience. Yes, a part of their craft is to design programmes that appeal to particular segments of the population, with the intent to persuade the customer, the advertiser, that there will be an attractive return on investment. I used the term ‘ratings’ in a broad sense to cover such matters. I am not one of them. I am what they sell.

  10. Posted 06/03/2015 at 15:09 | Permalink

    @quem mittam – no I am contradicting you. They are not just selling a commodity. A commodity is something generic and undifferentiated. I am saying that they are selling access to (and by, in the case of subscription and PPV TV) different segments of the market (audience) depending on the programme, time, etc.. The only thing we agree on is that they are selling what they offer – which is surely obvious.

    I did not say that there is no case for public service television – I was merely challenging your assertion that quality doesn’t matter to commercial broadcasters and they are just chasing quantity (as if those two things were necessarily contradictory). If the quality and subject matter isn’t what your target demographic wants, then they won’t watch and you will gain no revenue.

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