Time to abolish the TV licence

The BBC have long been benefiting from a taxation under the legal terminology of a “TV License”. If you watch TV at all, you require a TV license, even though the license pays for ONLY the BBC TV channels. Those channels are broadcast without any encryption, you receive them whether you want them or not, you have to pay for them, whether you watch them or not.

This is a private company being funded by a law which has optional sanctions of a heavy fine or imprisonment for non-payment. If you OWN any of the following equipment you are expected to be good little boy’s and girl’s and buy a license for EVERY set:

  1. TV set (colour or black & white)
  2. Video recorder
  3. PC with TV card
  4. Set top box (SKY, Cable or Freeview)

Granted there is a different price for a colour or black & white license, but this hardly justifies it. Years ago when there was ONLY the BBC being broadcast, I can understand the reasoning behind the license. Times have moved on immeasurably since then. As our analog airwaves are pretty close to capacity, and limited for media broadcast, the government and the media are trying to get us all to make the switch to digital, so they can switch off the analog transmissions and reallocate them to other services.

I FULLY agree with them on this move, it IS the only way forward. This has already happened in many homes across the UK with people buying either new digital enabled TV’s or a set top box of some description to allow them to watch digital broadcasts.With digital broadcasts, you can receive MANY, MANY more channels as they fit on a tighter airwave.

This would be the point to mention that the TV License is the same price whether you have access to (or want) all these extra BBC channels; the BBC website or any of the new services they tout. Let me say this again…..the price is the same if you get a hissy reception from BBC1 and on a portable TV and nothing else, as it is if you have a HUGE TV with pin sharp definition; a digital box with all the BBC channels and broadband connection to the internet for the fancy online BBC services. I don’t like repeating myself although it happens occasionally in editing by mistake; doing so on purpose goes against my grain but this point was VERY important.

An old myth the BBC keep “forgetting” to tell us, is that it is ONLY TV broadcasts you need a TV license for. ALL BBC RADIO stations are free without a license. No doubt this is to guilt people who only listen to the radio to assume they need a license for it too. Since the lack of advertising is touted as an advantage to the BBC it’s surprising that they get away with it themselves. Their weekly TV listings magazine Radio Times is heavily advertised on their channels.

I have no problem with advertising programming already paid for by the license fee, but advertising for a product on sale in competition against other TV listings magazines IS advertising. Unless they want to even the field and allow advertising for the other listings magazine on their channels, this could be seen as an unfair advantage. Doing that however, would destroy their “no advertising” reputation. Now this has been altered again with the addition of Podcasts available free on the BBC website, podcasts of BBC shows. This means you need a license to view them on a TV, but not to download them and watch them on your IPod; which you can plug into your TV and then watch on your TV.

I have no problem with those who WANT to watch the BBC and who believe it is value for money. Banning the TV license is NOT banning the BBC; it is all about giving us the freedom to chose for ourselves if we want the service; and not charging us for it regardless. Personally I believe that if the BBC changed to a subscription service where if you want it you pay for it, and if not its encrypted would see millions of people NOT wanting it.

The BBC have used the public as a cash cow for far too long while seeming ignorant to how wasteful they are. Last year we saw a strike by BBC staff at cuts in staff. They claimed that their “news service” (the Holy Grail in their claim to free money) would be compromised. When you look deeper you find that maybe a third of journalists at many press conferences are BBC journalists and crews, all covering it for different programs. Every commercial news agency has to SHARE material and resources, why not the BBC? After finding this out it threw my sympathy for the staff out the window.

They didn’t use the argument “we can’t show as many cloned garden or home improvement programs with less staff, where are all the repeats we have planned going to go?” This is the common perception of the BBC by the UK public. Yes they have some shows which people love like EastEnders (not my scene but it IS very popular). Yes they have a few high profile sports events, this is flooded by low grade cloned shows and repeats.

The whole point of the BBC and it’s funding by license instead of commercially is PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING. This to me means an unbiased news service; which is done by others commercially. It means an unbiased current affairs schedule; which is also done by others commercially. It means providing a home for events and sports which wouldn’t attract a commercial audience such as “The World Watching Paint Drying Competition”.

It does NOT mean chasing ratings by spending half a ten year budget on ONE Harry Potter Movie; which EVERY other channel were competing for commercially. Surely if other channels are willing to pay big money for an event or movie, it HAS a commercial market, which should let the BBC know; it’s not for us.

Many people love the BBC, many organizations “support” the BBC. I tried to do an article on the TV Licence for a small local charity newspaper only to be told it’s “out of bounds” as “we get some funding from the BBC”. I believe a lot of this love and affection is connected to memories; they remember events in history because they saw them on the BBC. The moon landings (cough cough); Diana and Charles wedding and the Challenger space shuttle exploding to name but a few. For much of this time there has only been the BBC.

Many people have been employed by the BBC over the years and have some affection for it as an employer. While an employee they are of course indoctrinated into the belief of how “right” and “perfectly fair” the TV License is, after all; it pays their wages and funds their projects at that time. Is this not the perfect time to say “well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

Add to this that it is enforced by another private company Capita, who use bully boy threats of legal action and Big Brother style “we’re watching and you will be caught” advertising to keep people terrified enough to pay.

I say “fuck Capita!!!” I’d urge anyone living in the UK to check the BBC resistance site and join the resistance. Refuse to bow to their threats, refuse to co-operate……in short, give them hell.

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