The TV License Fee

Friday 23rd August

You won’t be surprised to know that I have always been a defender of the BBC, it’s impartiality, it’s remit to Educate, Enlighten and Entertain, it’s freedom from Government control, and it’s generally high morality and aesthetic.  It has always been funded by individuals paying a license fee to listen to, or now mostly to watch it’s broadcasts.  This has always seemed to me perfectly reasonable.  Yes, it is slightly annoying seeing the quarterly DD pop up on your bank statement, but given what one receives it still remains great value.

But we are now rapidly entering the computer age.  I access and read BBC news on my laptop, probably spending almost as much screen time on this as I do watching the box.  With i-player and new technology emerging almost daily we will soon be in a position where the old TV becomes almost redundant.  Incidentally can you be fined for watching TV on a laptop out in a public place if you do not have a license?

Then there is the expense of administering the whole license system.  And I read today in City AM that ten percent of all court cases are enforcement of license fees!!!  Yes, ten percent.  Add in all that court time, on what is actually quite a minor misdemeanor and one begins to wonder if a better way of funding the BBC should be found.

Maybe an independent (small) body who look at the BBC’s costs and recommend to a Parliamentary committee any increases in an annual amount paid straight out of taxes would be more efficient.  There are those who would argue that then people who did not partake of the BBC’s services would be paying for it.  But I happily pay for Education, Health and Social Security for which I barely use, and even reluctantly pay for our involvement in Afghanistan and for Trident, even though I wish that money were not spent in this way.  And in any case the license fee is to operate a TV, not to specifically watch BBC, so the same argument applies.