Earlier today I was interviewed on BBC Asian Network on my views of the BBC Licence Fee and whether it should or should not be compulsory.
Personally, I believe we should not have to pay for the Licence Fee and mainly for two reasons – it gives an unfair bias to a broadcaster and it not fit for purpose in its current role. Let me explore those options.
Unfair bias to broadcaster
Comparing the total external revenue of some broadcasters we see that
- ITV has a total external revenue of £2,590 million
- Channel 4’s total external revenue is £908 million a year
- UKTV (Dave, Yesterday, etc.) had £265 million in revenue
- BBC has £5,066 million (of which £3,726 million comes from licence fees)
How can it be right and fair that 73% of the BBCs funding can come from the tax payer? The other Channels don’t get tax payer funded fees so I don’t believe the BBC should either.
The BBC funded licence was first introduced in 1923 when TV’s were in the infancy. The current TV licence fee started in 1946 and to use that same system today in 2015 is not realistic. Many other channels, funded by other sources, are just as great as offering high quality programmes. Take Channel 4’s dispatches programmes – they are great and the tax payer hasn’t contributed to this. Take Sky’s Ross Kemps programme – this is extremely intriguing and the tax payer hasn’t contributed to this. Take ITV’s dramas – they are intellectual and the tax payer hasn’t contributed to this.
The BBC should do the same – produce high quality programmes that are not the tax payer funded.
Fit for purpose
The amount of the licence fee £145.50 – this works out to be 40p a day.
For someone like me, I work full time and then go home and have a million and one things to do – so the only programme I get to watch on the TV is usually BBC Question Time once everyone else is in bed. So that means I’m paying £2.80 a week to watch one programme. Most the time, I watch it the day after on catch-up – which is exempt from TV Licence Fee. So, as I am not using the service – why should I be asked to pay for it?
Let’s look at others. The National Audit Office report in 2002 said
Areas with high evasion rates are most likely to have a higher than average proportion of younger people, low income households, and students and single parent, and a high level of County Court judgment 50 per cent above the national average.
This means that the licence fee represents a much higher proportion of income for poor households. The amount of licence fee for a single parent or a family on low income or a student is a higher proportion of their income than it is for others. Now by not allowing or forbidding all TV programmes (yes all!) to non-licence fee payers, it prevents the vulnerable and the less fortunate are not able to enjoy a hobby that’s virtually free. It doesn’t allow them to access information, knowledge, humour, information and news – which ultimately prevents them from learning new things, experiences new ideas and expand their knowledge.
The main thing that I dislike is the fact that not paying the licence fee is a criminal offense and you can be taken to court, be imprisoned and pay a fine. Criminalising those on low income is not the way to go. It is crazy that you don’t go to prison if you don’t pay council tax but not paying your TV tax (yes it is a tax) you can.
So for these reasons, I think the Licence Fee need to be changed. It needs to be more relevant to now and what people are actually using TV for. Most people watch programmes on their phones, websites and laptops instead of the TV. This does need to be debated and discussed more.
Disclaimer: These are my personal views and not any views of any company, group or political party that I may be associated with.