back to article Who's going to pay for Britain's Aunty Beeb to carry on? Broadband users, broadcaster suggests to government

The BBC has floated the idea of replacing its licence fee with a broadband levy in its submission to a government consultation. The licence fee system imposes a £154.50 charge on every UK household with a television receiver. The model, which generated £3.69bn for the BBC in its fiscal '19, dates back to 1923, and is used to …

  1. theExecutive

    April Fool

    HEh!

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: April Fool

      Unfortunately even if it was, I wouldn't be at all surprised at the suggestion of such a levy.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: April Fool

      Sadly not. The BBC's problem is it wants to keep it's jacuzzi filled. If public service broadcasting were changed to a 'free' channel + subscription option, it risks losing some percentage of the almost £5bn a year it makes from the combination of licence fee + commercial activities. That's also a challenge given cross-subsidisation, ie how shows like say, Dr Who are financed. So how much is funded by the licence fee, and how much from commercial activities.

      It's one of those areas where Beebonomics ties itself into complicated knots. It claims to have saved millions in 'real cash' terms, it claims to have cut millions in costs, it's commercial tentacles have been vital in keeping the licence fee down.. Yet the licence fee keeps increasing, and the BBC keeps demanding more.

      But it's argued for a continuation of it's current regressive funding model for years. Shifting it's funding to a tax on broadband or electricity would obviously increase the costs of those services, not to mention conveniently removing any currently legal avoidance. I have no desire to fund the BBC*, so don't watch it, and don't have any stuff installed or operated for any purpose under the current law. I certainly have no desire to be forced to fund it.

      A logical solution is to pare back the BBC to a PSB channel, so free to air news & current affairs, and maybe some entertainment. Fund that from taxation, and let people who really do value the BBC pay £10/month for the extras. The BBC has spent millions on market research to claim how much the public values it, and in some cases value it higher than the current licence fee amount. So if that's true, those people would be more than happy to voluntarily pay Aunty. Based on it's own research, it has nothing to fear.

      *Initially due to the heavy handed way the BBC's goon squad tried to enforce collection, subsequently due to realising it's dishonesty wrt climate change and energy. And amusingly, it's starting to appear a little sceptical regarding Covid modelling, dodgy stats, and misplaced trust in 'experts'..

      1. Bearson

        Re: April Fool

        There's a lot of disinformation regarding what the BBC has control over. When the license fee is set, the BBC board pitch how much they think they need under A, B and C scenarios and the government can pick and choose what they fund. The license fee is set by the government, not the BBC.

        The enforcement officers are not employed by the BBC, the beeb has no control over how they enforce the license fee payment. They also don't get money back from the commercial activities you're talking about, that money goes to BBC Worldwide who do not share back funding.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: April Fool

          There's a lot of disinformation regarding what the BBC has control over.

          Indeed. Often provided by that esteemed organ itself..

          The enforcement officers are not employed by the BBC, the beeb has no control over how they enforce the license fee payment.

          Utter bollocks..

          http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/part/4

          The BBC is responsible for the sale & collection activities, as that Act shows. The BBC does however like to hide behind the veil of 'TV Licensing' even though that's just the collections wing of the BBC. As the only entity legally able to collect payments, it obviously has full control over how that's achieved. Ok, it does that by subcontracting to the likes of Crapita, but they can only act under the authority of the BBC.

          They also don't get money back from the commercial activities you're talking about, that money goes to BBC Worldwide who do not share back funding.

          More bollocks-

          https://www.bbcstudios.com/about/about-us/

          But we also assist the BBC’s public service mission by reinvesting our profits back into the BBC. Over the last seven years, we’ve generated revenues of £1.4bn and returned £200m annually to the BBC Group.

          Although that's again back to Beebonomics and financial engineering. Again if it's commercial activities and sale of licence fee paid content were so stellar, then the licence fee could be reduced, not continually increased.

          Funny how that works, every year the commercial tentacles grow, but never enough to reduce the tax..

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: April Fool

          They also don't get money back from the commercial activities you're talking about, that money goes to BBC Worldwide who do not share back funding.

          Yes, but that's a chosen internal structure rather than two actually separated entities that require to be separated.

          I can very easily split myself into Lout (uk), Lout (my living room), Lout (bathroom inc) etc, but in reality my reasons for doing so are fictitious. BBC has a massive back catalog, which despite having been paid by us to make, it insists is a commercially separate entity and so we must pay again for box sets of things we already paid them to make.

          The future of the BBC as a whole unit is purely commercial, which is how it has chosen to manifest most of its interests, simply because much of the public no longer trust it, they no longer value it, the output isn't high enough quality in many cases, and the price is disproportionate (guardian TV passes for the News at Ten, its days as the Blair Broadcasting Corporation, its 24x7 British Broadcasting Corbynism of recent years).

          BBC voluntarily used to discipline Clarkson for minor transgressions such that he was on a final warning by the time he did something that should have been disciplined, and had to be sacked, thereby losing the corporation £x00M's. That's hundreds of millions I'm simply not minded to make up, so they're going to need to live on less.

          Like most of the public sector, the BBC wastes money hand over fist because if they don't spend it all every year then they may not get it again the next year. There's no drive towards operational efficiency, self sufficiency, and no focus on why they exist.

          Its the 3 P's. Pay -> Pensions -> Provision of services. All UK public sector entities get that backwards. You can only spend a pound once, so the focus needs to always be Provision of services -> Pay -> Pensions.

          Sorry Auntie, I've got no sympathy and nor do most folks.... especially not when I can get Netflix for a lot less per year.

          1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

            Re: April Fool

            I don't know how you established that 'most folks' feel the same way as you. I don't like the BBC's news operation and the light entertainment isn't of interest to me, but the documentary and children's output is second to none. Plus, where on Netflix can I sign up for multiple local, national, and international radio services with no commercials?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: April Fool

              "multiple local, national, and international radio services with no commercials?"

              That's the bit most people forget when they shout "subscription model!"

              If they went that way, and I choose to subscribe to BBC Inc, why should my subscription pay for free radio for everyone? What's the answer to funding some of the most listened to stations in the UK? There is no subscription broadcast radio service that I know of that I can listen to on a cheap FM radio or in the car.

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: April Fool

            "... its days as the Blair Broadcasting Corporation, its 24x7 British Broadcasting Corbynism of recent years.

            I think you are talking about another broadcaster. The BBC news and current affairs I know and have avoided for many years is uncritical of whatever government is in power in Westminster*, with a general slant towards conservatism at best, and Toryism at worst.

            *When it comes to Scotlad, the BBC is extremely anti-government. Its anti-SNP stance looks very biased, and don't mention the prosecution-biased reporting of Alex Salmond's trial!

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: April Fool

            "its days as the Blair Broadcasting Corporation, its 24x7 British Broadcasting Corbynism of recent years)."

            And yet Labour supporters claim it ToryVision! That must mean they are doing a good job of being neutral.

            1. AlbertH
              Black Helicopters

              Re: April Fool

              The BBC that I knew (back in the 1970s, when I worked there) died in the late 80s. It was replaced with a Politically Correct, socially manipulative, Common Purpose-riddled organisation that would routinely advertise jobs for "non-male, non-white" applicants. They have not been "fit for purpose" for the last 30 years. We now - finally - have a government who are prepared to do something about this.

              The broadband levy is a joke. If they were to add a "BBC Fee" to broadband charges, it would be no time at all until they decided to add an "Email Tariff", or a "Download Charge"..... It would be just another Tax - like Road Tax - that just ends up in the general pot of taxation. We're already taxed an aggregate of around 70% (if you're a "higher rate" taxpayer) - one of the highest rates in the world. Compared to some countries, we get precious little back for our hard-earned!

      2. Jon Smit

        Re: April Fool

        Everything keeps on increasing, like Sky, who have led the complaints about the BBC licence since they first broadcast.

        The BBC coss £3 a week, Sky at least treble that, before paying extra for every sport they show.

      3. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: April Fool

        @ Jellied Eel:

        +1 for "Beebonomics" :)

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: April Fool

          +1 for "Beebonomics" :)

          Don't forget George Orwell learned his trade at the BBC. It can be fun sometimes to fact-check the BBC's claims of poverty against it's actual published accounts, plus the occasional NAO review.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: April Fool

        In real terms. as adjusted by CPI, the licence fee has fallen from around 2009 until the last couple of years since when it has seen only inflation level rises. It's around 25% cheaper than it was at its highest on that basis.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: April Fool

          In real terms. as adjusted by CPI,

          Wait, wut? Again this is a bit of beebonomics. In really real terms, a couple of things happened. One being a larger than normal licence fee increase to pay for DSO. Another being an instruction to stop wasting money. DSO completed, but licence fee wasn't reduced, instead it became support for rural broadband. The 'efficiency savings' lead to the BBC claiming around '£800m in real-cash' savings. So if true, rather than being a co-production between the BBC's finance and fiction departments, the BBC should be swimming in cash.

          Especially as licence fees are per household, and household growth also gives the BBC a handy windfall, especially as that has no impact on it's costs. Government twigged to that one, hence the freeze on licence fees, since lifted. So 2017's 5-yr plan went back to CPI indexing, even though the BBC still had the DSO money, plus 'savings'. And again, the BBC's costs are unrelated to CPI.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: April Fool

      Germany has been doing it this way for around 15 years, so hardly a surprise that the UK would look at it.

      1. Nick Pettefar

        Re: April Fool

        But German TV is terrible, as any German will tell you.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: April Fool

          German TV can be very good.

          A lot of what is shown on the commercial channels is absolute tripe (licensed versions of US reality TV tripe), but there are a lot of good programs as well, especially on the BBC equivalents (ARD, ZDF etc.).

          I probably watch more original German programming than I do imported US or UK shows.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. onemark03

            Re: April Fool

            Here in Germany, your car radio and your PC/laptop are also subject to the broadcasting licence as these are considered capable of receiving German (state) TV programmes, regardless of whether you have a radio, TV set or (internet-capable) computer or not.

            What's worse, every household is subject to the broadcasting fee regardless of whether it has a radio/TVset/internet-capable computer ("media-receiver", if you like) of any kind or not. So you end up paying for a service whether you use it or not. It's never been stated publicly but I suspect this scheme (charging all households) was introduced (only a few years ago) to simplify collection. Previously they used to have inspectors and detector vans.

            I'd be interested to know whether this (or something similar) applies in the UK as well.

            FTR, I don't have a car but I do have a TV set and a PC, so I pay €17.52 a quarter. Fortunately I can deduct this expense from my taxes.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they're going to apply the licence fee to broadband, then the BBC ought to provide some kind of internet service comparable to their tv and radio offerings of the last few decades.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      For a while, the BBC did offer it's own xDSL service. Which was rather expensive, and had few users, so dropped a few years back. It's also one of those strange things where it may have made sense given the number of remote staff, and a better ability to manage things like contention.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      You mean all their internet based services for example?

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. ikilledbambi

    If the BBC (as they claim) are this national treasure which everyone wants to preserve, then I see no problem with them becoming a subscription service.

    Their own poll suggests that they would have enough willing punters without resorting to being propped up by another business sector.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Or a best of both worlds.

      Keep the fee to pay for BBC news and make "celebrity strictly come dancing in the jungle on ice" a subscription.

      Then the government would be assured there was fair and unbiased reporting of their triumphs, rather than having to rely on the dailyMail and Fox news, without the taint of popularism

    2. Graham Cobb

      The issue isn't so much the money, it is the commercialism.

      The BBC which I value is one which makes shows that are not commercially viable: that cater for minority interests, offer unpopular viewpoints, appeal to limited age groups (all of them, but in narrow bands).

      I value the BBC specifically because I only want to watch a small part of what it produces.

      Its value is in producing content which commercial broadcasters won't touch.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      If the BBC (as they claim) are this national treasure which everyone wants to preserve, then I see no problem with them becoming a subscription service.

      I worked for a commercial broadcaster who didn't like the license fee. However they also didn't want the BBC taking advertising or sponsorship. Neither did the idea of encryption/subscription go down any better. People apparently might find the idea of two monthly charges unwelcoming and ditch the commercial one. Those Dr Who/Eastenders/Strictly Come Dancing/Blue Planet fans might not want to stop watching those progs. So I asked my management what was the preferred solution and the reply was "[thank God] it's not our problem."

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The British government is now consulting...

    ... on a proposal that has already been examined and found wanting.

    There is clearly an issue of how the BBC should be funded (if at all) in the longer term. In the absence of a concrete proposal for future funding, there is no value in simply undermining the system that currently exists, except as a means of exerting political pressure on the BBC.

    If the BBC is to continue, it can only be on the basis of some form of taxation (and the licence fee is just a form of taxation). Most of those boutique TV production companies that arose from the requirement to commission independent third-party content are now just part of vast international conglomerates. Even Murdoch has thrown in the towel. The BBC is just too small to survive in the commercial market.

    The BBC needs the economies of scale it gets from charging a large number of people a relatively modest fee - it's the only way it can provide the range of output that it does. If it becomes a subscription-based service, it will be asset-stripped of its back-catalogue and shut down within a couple of years. Personally, I think that would be a shame - at this time above all others we should hopefully be able to see that the value in our shared assets, whether it is the BBC or the NHS, is precisely the fact that they're shared.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: The British government is now consulting...

      ... on a proposal that has already been examined and found wanting.

      Obviously not. The Perry Review had a wider remit, but the fact that there's a current consultation stems from some of the issues raised by that review, and subsequent developments.

      The consultation is pretty narrowly defined though, ie pretty much if the current system is decriminalised. That's not without risks. Currently the BBC's staff are commissioned based on licence sales and 'prosecutions', so there's a direct incentive to earn commissions. Which has lead to fraud & perjury. Or just profits, ie evaders may be fined, but also charged 'costs' and a victims surcharge.

      Proposal's to make it a civil matter, and could be dealt with via a Fixed Penalty Notice. Perry reckoned the FPN should be £500 to have the same deterrent effect as the current 'up to £1000' fine + costs, but actual fines average around £170. So an FPN could mean a 3x increase in penalty, with no easy option to means test it. That makes it even more regressive than the current system.

      And then if the BBC's enfarcement officers are allowed to issue FPNs, and earn commission on those, that might increase temptation to issue. And if that follows the same model as other FPNs, then it effectively reverses any burden of proof and increases the risk if you dare to appeal the FPN. Especially as there's usually no real evidence of any offence other than a confession. That of course could change if the BBC was required to show evidence from TV 'detectors', but those are currently only used to track low flying bacon.

      There is clearly an issue of how the BBC should be funded (if at all) in the longer term. In the absence of a concrete proposal for future funding, there is no value in simply undermining the system that currently exists, except as a means of exerting political pressure on the BBC.

      Well, the BBC exerts political pressure of it's own, so this is perhaps self-inflicted. Otherwise it's sensible to ask if the BBC really needs £150 per household per year, with a CPI+ index, even though most of it's input costs bear little resemblance to what's in the CPI basket.. Which ironically includes the cost of a BBC licence, making the tax both circular and regressive.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: The British government is now consulting...

        So long as it isn't politically motivated then.

        Perhaps the Labour Party could suggest decriminalisation of bank robbery to address the over-financialisation of the UK economy

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: The British government is now consulting...

          Perhaps the Labour Party could suggest decriminalisation of bank robbery to address the over-financialisation of the UK economy

          Arguably the de-regulation of financial markets in the 1980's allowed entire banks to be 'stolen'.

  6. Ryan 7

    I'd honestly be OK with it being tacked-on to Council Tax

    But there's something icky about the idea of medding with my access to the Internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd honestly be OK with it being tacked-on to Council Tax

      That's how it works in France.

      1. alexinalnwick
        Thumb Up

        Re: I'd honestly be OK with it being tacked-on to Council Tax

        In France, with the option to say "I don't have a tv", so don't charge me. Check visits are made, but not by the likes of Crapita. (I only had 1 in my 7 years and I was out at the time, so tante pis!)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd honestly be OK with it being tacked-on to Council Tax

          Never heard of them paying a visit in recent history. No Need. Shops dob you in when you buy a TV.

          1. Handlebars

            Re: I'd honestly be OK with it being tacked-on to Council Tax

            They left me a hand written letter last year, to let me know a real person had been round to check that I really don't have a telly.

  7. steamnut

    BBC Licence..

    If the BBC really do think that 5 million viewer watch East Enders each week then simple make it subscription only and charge £5 each of the four episodes per week. That is worth around £5.2bn per year. That exceeds the £3.7bn they currently get. Add 50p for Antiques Roadshow and £1 for Question Time and they will be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

    The reality is, the moment they charge for 'Enders, the viewing figures will drop like a stone. It is time the BBC had to earn their revenue and stop treating it as regular income with little justificaiton. And why do we pay for the BBC World Service?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: BBC Licence..

      You could ask the same questions about schools, hospitals, roads, museums, libraries, parks...

      There are private versions of all of those things but they don't deliver a universal and comprehensive service.

      And why do we pay for the BBC World Service?

      We have always paid for it - largely because governments have seen a security benefit in getting positive messages about the UK to countries will state-controlled media. It used to be paid for by a grant from the Foreign Office, but the burden was transferred to the licence fee (along with the funding of over-75s) as part of the government's "magic money tree" mendacity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BBC Licence..

        More truthfully the world service is part of the overseas propaganda arm of HMG, as for those 'positive messages' we could do without those attracting further illegal migrants!

    2. dickiemint

      Re: BBC Licence..

      The Licence Fee does NOT have a penalty of prison for non-payment. Prison is for non payment of fines - it's a contempt of court thing.

      The Licence Fee pays for World Service and S4C both government things foisted on the beeb by government.

      Consumers pay a darn sight more for commercial tv stations through adverts.

      And newspapers cost far more per day than the License Fee!

  8. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    Let the people who use the BBC pay for it and let everyone else get what they want without propping it up.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Ha

      especially given the outrageous salaries some of the presenters are on, there's a cutback right there. Chris Evans and Gary Lineker over a million a year for starters

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        Chris Evans? Do the BBC pay salaries of Virgin Radio UK presenters?

        1. Valeyard

          Re: Ha

          2019 report mate, I'm not their payroll team

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Ha

      Let the people who use the BBC pay for it and let everyone else get what they want without propping it up.

      Sorry but that idea is fundamentally flawed. Channels 3, 4 & 5 are paid for by advertisements. Even if I don't have a television if something I buy has been advertised on television then a part of what it costs me goes to the advertising and television companies, notwithstanding the fact that not having a television means that I did not see the advertisement in the first place.

      In short I would be "propping up the independents" even though I was not watching their (often horrible) programmes.

      No point in replacing one wrong with another...

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        @Commswonk

        "Sorry but that idea is fundamentally flawed. Channels 3, 4 & 5 are paid for by advertisements."

        Thereby showing that the BBC tax should shove off. Unless the BBC is undesirable or incompetent it should be capable of continuing as all the other channels do.

        "Even if I don't have a television if something I buy has been advertised on television then a part of what it costs me goes to the advertising and television companies"

        And you choose to buy it. Not only that but if it has any costs they are incorporated in the price of the product/service you buy. So special little princess BBC has no excuse for the BBC tax.

        "notwithstanding the fact that not having a television means that I did not see the advertisement in the first place."

        And by not watching BBC people get robbed to support that singular protected source for obviously no good reason (as you have demonstrated with other channels).

        "In short I would be "propping up the independents" even though I was not watching their (often horrible) programmes.

        No point in replacing one wrong with another..."

        Since the odd one out is the BBC it would be no point allowing such a wrong when others get by without the BBC tax.

      2. Neiljohnuk

        Re: Ha

        Whereas the BBC only does self promoting adverts, well stuff the braindead brainwashing colusionists scrap the licence fee and make it a selectable level of programming and subscription. There are lies, dam lies, and the BBC.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ha

      Yes exactly.

      Also why should I pay for sick people on the NHS, other people's pensions and the education of children that are not mine?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Ha

        @AC

        "Also why should I pay for sick people on the NHS, other people's pensions and the education of children that are not mine?"

        Are you equating an entertainment provider with healthcare and education? This is such a ridiculously rich country that low quality entertainment could be considered on par with education and healthcare. I say low quality because people pay for the others but are forced to pay for the BBC and even though the BBC like to claim it has popular support they obviously dont believe they would be supported by people paying voluntarily.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Ha

          I think you might have missed some sarcasm...

          Well, I hope they were being sarcastic...

  9. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    To be honest 10 years ago I would have fought tooth and nail for the BBC to remain as it was, but these days they produce very little of interest to me. I value BBC2s QI and Mock The Week, and series like The Planets, but the dramas leave me cold as does almost the entire content of BBC1, 3, and 4. I haven't listened to a BBC radio station for years (since John Peel died) as they just don't interest me any more. I used to love watching Top Gear but since they got Paddy McGuinness and his constant shouting and repeated "Ged In Thur" I'm now avoiding it as far too cringe-worthy.

    I use the BBC News website as it's about as neutral and factual as a news site can get these days, and I judge that neutrality by the equally loud cries of "Bias" from both the Left and Right of the political spectrum. Compared to Fox, Sky, CNN, etc. it's a gem.

    I do watch Dave quite a lot as it has Red Dwarf and other original comedy (as well as lots of repeats of BBC shows), but that is the commercial arm of the BBC and not funded by the License Fee.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      The way I look at it is that it's not as good as it was but I'm still getting enough out of it to make £3 a week a bargain.

      I wouldn't have a problem if they simply took it as tax, but I lean towards being a commie and don't feel aggrieved at having to pay taxes.

      I see the issue as mostly an ideological and political bandwagon to close the BBC down, driven by those who would benefit most through achieving that.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @Jason Bloomberg

        "The way I look at it is that it's not as good as it was but I'm still getting enough out of it to make £3 a week a bargain."

        But is it £3 a week? Lets remove the tax and see how much it really is. That £3 a week assumes people with no interest in the BBC can be forced to pay for it. Instead of providing some people with a bargain, why not have those people pay the real price? For the rest of us that £3 a week can go toward whatever we want to spend it on instead.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Somebody I work with has parents that moved to Spain years ago. They have a sodding massive dish attached to their house so they can still get UK tv. Specifically they have it for the BBC and ITV yet don't have to pay the license fee as they're not UK residents. They have considered moving back to the UK but this was a few years ago. It was when the broadcasters switched to the current satellite with a more narrow footprint. I understand tapes were mailed weekly from the UK to keep them going until they could get a bigger dish installed.

      Personally I've been living on BBC local radio/Radio 2&4 since becoming housebound. I don't listen to commercial radio because I can't stand the adverts. Also there's precious little local radio as it's mostly all done from London nowadays and networked. I also listen to the World Service when abroad and don't go away without a propper radio that covers LW/MW/SW/FM. Getting football scores and commentary whilst sitting on a deserted Caribbean island one Saturday morning was heaven. We'd come on a sail boat and were the only people on that sand bar. There was no mobile signal and the only two way communication was via the VHF on the boat. Also helped that it was baking hot and sunny where I was and it was torrential rain at Anfield.

      I'm happy to pay for the license fee but preferred going down the post office to pay for it rather than finding a PayPoint. Then discovering that they only want cash not card and the nearest ATM is a fee charging one

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "but the dramas leave me cold"

      All of them? I just had a quick look at recent/current series dramas on Wikipedia and I'd say I've watched and enjoyed at least a quarter of them, my wife probably more like half. And she's NOT a soap watcher either.(and neither am I!!)

      It seems you and I have wildly different tastes. I think I like it that way :-)

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "The licence fee system imposes a £154.50 charge on every UK household with a television receiver. "

    No it doesn't (or at least it shouldn't). The fee is due from those that receive and make use of television broadcasts (whether over the air of or over the wire these days). It's perfectly legal to have a receiver in on the premises without needing a license, provided it isn't used to receive and make use of broadcasts, and the onus is on the licensing authority to prove it is used for that if they think so. So a TV repair technician (if any such still exist) that only uses synthesised test signals wouldn't in principle need a license for the workshop premises. However arguing the point with the jobsworth outsource that collects the fees might be rather a marathon.

    1. Valeyard

      > It's perfectly legal to have a receiver in on the premises without needing a license, provided it isn't used to receive and make use of broadcasts, and the onus is on the licensing authority to prove it is used for that if they think so.

      There are supposedly a lot of rules, but try telling that to the beefy looking fellas (with the proper ID) who barged their way into my student bedroom (Where my girlfriend was in bed no less) to start harassing me about a portable CRT that was a snes-dedicated display with no aerial cable in the room anyway. Despite telling them to fuck off and threatening to call the police they said there'd be a letter going out. Joke's on them all my student mail got stolen.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Three problems I can think of

    1) Why should someone who doesn't watch the BBC be forced to pay through their internet connection charge?

    2) Why should only the BBC be subsidised to provide a streaming service*?

    3) Will this only apply to domestic / consumer connections, or is that connection to a road-side data collection node also going to "contribute"?

    * Especially when the other providers provide better content outside of news, current affairs and the like.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Three problems I can think of

      Why should somebody without kids be forced to pay for schools?

      Why should somebody in London be forced to subsidise a ferry service in the Shetlands ?

      Why should somebody who doesn't enjoy rough sex with sailors be forced to fund the navy or Prince Andrew ?

      1. deadcow

        Re: Three problems I can think of

        The BBC is an entertainment service. Nothing more. It's an outlet for terrible soap operas and even more terrible gameshows. It's not a school. It's not a hospital. I don't mind paying a little for your kids (and everybody's kids) to go to school - I do object to paying for you to find out what happened to Phil and Sharon (if they're still a thing) this week.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Three problems I can think of

          The BBC is also an education service.

          Not only do you have things like BBC for Schools, and their broadcasting of Open University programs, but also documentaries on pretty much everything (including the Natural History unit which is an obvious gem). This is where the BBC's non-commercial nature means they can make programs about subjects which would never make enough money for a commercial company to be interested.

          I'd argue that their news output is closer to being education than entertainment as well.

  12. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Saving a much admired institution from commercial exploitation

    It is imperative for the BBC to remain free from constraints necessary for keeping advertisers and private owners happy. Also, it should feel only the lightest touch of government oversight.

    The BBC has been an obvious target for neo-liberal privatisation for a considerable time. Powerful commercial interests have lobbied for emasculation of the BBC ever since Mrs Thatcher promoted the sterile, now disastrous, neo-liberal idea that the private sector always provides services better than publicly owned facilities. The BBC is regarded as 'unfair competition' by private concerns reliant upon monopoly practices sanctioned by copyright; describing that as disingenuous is to put it mildly.

    Present circumstances arising from the (grossly overreacted to) pandemic have destroyed plans by Johnson and his chums to further dismantle the NHS, to castrate the BBC, and insinuate 'monetisation' of everything in sight into popular conception of proper governance. Their revered saint, the late Ayn Rand, must be shedding tears of toxic blood. The pandemic has smashed Mrs Thatcher's dictum of there being no such thing as society; deep interdependence of individuals, institutions, and commercial enterprise is evident to all.

    Johnson, as always the opportunist, shall perceive where his best interests lie. They no longer those of his wealthy masters and in hitching the UK's wagon to the USA. Serendipitously, exit from the EU, done for the wrong reasons, turns out greatly to our advantage and to Johnson's. Both the EU and the USA face, for differing reasons, meltdown of core assumptions. One thing is certain, the USA's cocked-up healthcare system is demonstrably not fit for purpose and no exemplar to the rest of the world. It's unlikely informed UK citizens can be persuaded to look with favour on the American way of doing broadcasting and Internet streaming of 'content'. The BBC is a hive of creativity both with respect to 'content' designed to please/inform across the educational and cultural spectrum, and to technological innovation; anyone unclear about the latter need look only at BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

    The ultimate irony lies in strong possibility of Johnson, knave though he be, receiving credit for reversing 'Thatcherism' and for incidentally meeting a Labour pledge to take the homeless off the streets.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Saving a much admired institution from commercial exploitation

      "the American way of doing broadcasting"

      An interesting observation. Most US TV shows are make/broadcast/make/broadcast. Filming has stopped on most on-going series mid-season and no new stuff will be produced for at least the next month, possibly two months. I'd not be surprised if some of those series never come back.

      In the UK, we tend to make an entire series, then broadcast it weekly. No one, two or three (or more!) weeks break for no obvious reason other than maybe a one week break for public holidays.

      I guess this is another reason for Netflix and the like being so popular over there.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well...

    The BBC offers a good* range of services and no private subscription will have it taking in the money it does presently, unless it snaps up the obscenely pricey sports rights that Sky(& BT, Amazon etc) presently have.

    Public funding of the Beeb is IMO a good thing, particularly for its local radio and news services, where everything else is being shut or sold to Reach PLC. It's international output is important for UK, where it is considered a benchmark of trustworthiness, however much of it's domestic output can test us sometimes. A broadband &pay TV levy isn't unreasonable, as long as it's automatic and not the existing shit.

    The radio output is mostly solid and worth every penny, and is broadly incomparable. There is some shite, but no commercial broadcaster could be counted on to fill the depth or breadth of the void if we lost Auntie.

    The TV output is mixed bag. It's a crime that BBC 3 was moved 'online-only' and is expected to return to broadcast soon. The output is generally better than the other PSBs(occasionally 4 or ITV might have something good) and their daytime is superlative to most other channels (important for elderly & vulnerable, particularly ATM). TV Drama is mostly on the up, but documentary/factual is clearly undercommissioned. A few presenters get too much. Cut the middle managers, commission more.

    The online output is mostly good. The news site sometimes does nowhere near enough to distinguish between fact, fiction and opinion though otherwise good. The sport site is good and covers every sport I can think of. The stuff for kids/education is solid. The food site is excellent. The podcasts are great, a pity you can't get most on Google Podcasts. The BBC Sounds site is gradually improving, but still governed by ideologues. The iPlayer is a great site let down by a shortage of content. Again, cut the middle managers, commission more.

    BBC owns UKTV(Dave, W, Gold, et al), this is good and profitable. The BBC owns BritBox (w/ ITV/4) - currently a bit shit and likely unprofitable - integrate it into current iPlayer, call it iPlayer Plus. Then you can make the case for a publicly funded basic service(Radio, Online, some TV) with a premium expansion. (Any premium offering needs to be the same internationally - then Netflix can actually have a challenger)

    *It's mostly fine. The TV content is highly variable, most other stuff is great.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      I think the tax should shift to the subscription services. It seems fair to squeeze a few % off their profits in order to pay for a free-to-air, advertisement free set of basic channels for those who choose or are forced by circumstance NOT to pay a media subscription. I mean, if The BBC disappeared then people would be forced to pay for any TV at all. Of course if you did that, then the people who choose not to pay for a subscription service are getting something for nothing then, which seems even more perverse that the present system. The price of The BBC is as low as it is purely because of the numbers of people who pay for it - essentially everyone. And those who say that ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 is free-to-air, you pay for those through the goods and services you buy. The take home message is there's no such thing as a free lunch, so why get all het up about the way The BBC is funded, really? It's not like you're forced to watch it, so it can't be that you disagree with the output. I'm paying for loads of stuff I don't use and other stuff I don't agree with through various other taxations - it's just more visible with the TV License Fee. I barely ever watch ITV for instance, but tot up the penny on a packet of cornflakes over a whole year, and it's costing me a fair bit - I'm not baying at the door of ITV house asking to be let off, am I?!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      "*It's mostly fine. The TV content is highly variable, most other stuff is great."

      And without a "free at the[point of use" Auntie, how long before anything worth watching on Freeview/FreeSat ends up behind a paywall too?

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Right Wicked Progress ......

    ..... Requires No Prisoners, Slaves or Stragglers, so Any and All Found There be Lost

    Does the BBC then also become an Asset of Broadband users for Broadband user use rather than Being Imagined Solely for Dull Blunt Government Tools PreProgrammed to Fool All and Sundry Faultlessly with Other Immaculate Fault Riven Narratives for you to Visit and Explore, Experience and Expand Upon without such Breaking News breaking the news. ‽

    You know ..... Something Simple to Follow .... which one does not necessarily need to have any prior knowledge or great understanding of ..... that Shows the How and the Why and the Wherefore AI and IT Create Future Presentations for Vital Virile Virtual Network Realisations.

    Wow ...... a Real World Virtual Solution that Can Easily Work .... just as it can both practically and virtually anywhere ...... which, just in case you missed it, is therefore everywhere.

    Now that is one hell of a massive great space place where one gets to exercise and play with Almighty Global Operating Devices able to enable the doing of anything smart one might wish to be easily done.

    And a Highly Commendable and Most Recommendable IT Program it is Too ....... although whether primarily a Project of human or alien form for overall governance with remote command and ethereal control, is something which exercises a Many Great Few into proving the answers received and given as perfectly correct and already proceeding ...... and leading. :-) ‽ :-)

    Float that to the BBC Board and observe whether drawbridges go up or new services are slated to suddenly randomly appear with histories shrouded in the mysteries which protect and server one's times at the helm of the future in such a Rich Era and Reich Area ....... for here is one informed such is Always Immediately Available Allowing Possible to Progress and Proceed to Certainly Probable and Most Definitely Most Definitively Virtually Practically Guaranteed Never Ever to Fail Other than FailSafe.

    Surely that is quite inviting and tempting? :-) Why ever would anyone/anything say .... "No Thanks, not interested?" ........ other than imagining they have superior handles of firm command and control with an alternate system competing against or simply opposing new blooded ideas and almighty powerful notions.

    Words Create, Command and Control and Destroy Worlds ....... and why one would practice the trailing latter rather exercising any or all of the three prime formers is a disgrace which humans appear to employ and endure, exercise and exploit. That's surely most weird. Is it a Certifiable Sign of Madness to the nth degree?

  15. werdsmith Silver badge

    BBC 4 and Radio 4 are virtually the only broadcast channels that I bother with. Remove them and dumb us all down to Netflix thicko programming and I will be out of it all because no way am I paying for the chav based streaming channels.

    1. ssh_proxy
      Thumb Down

      Radio 4? Tell me is ‘Thought for the day’ still only available to those promoting religion, i.e. no Atheists or Agnostics? Thought so. With the majority of the British public are now religious ‘nones’ the BBC should reflect the country’s diversity. This refusal of the BBC to reflect current British views on religion is reason alone to scrap it. Why should I as an Atheist have to pay money towards people who endanger children, hate women, hate LGBTs and just last Sunday were busily spreading COVID-19 by opening religious places of worship? I can’t wait to see this BBC religion tax go.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        You mean like all those times when Richard Dawkins were on? Yeah, obviously he has a hidden agenda to promote religion through atheism.

  16. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Subscription time

    I dont watch sky sports.. therefore I've no need to subscribe to them, no net flix, amazon etc etc ect

    I dont watch bbc therefore I'm forced to pay for it under threat of a prison sentence... come on guys.... this is the 21st century

    If the beeb is convinced their output is worth watching, put it on subscription and those people who want to watch it can pay and watch, the same model as net flix, amazon et al.

  17. HmYiss

    Burn it to the ground.

    Just kidding. Keep paying for the government propaganda and paedophilia branch. Do it for the kiddies.

  18. Martin Howe

    I must say how depressed I am at the "you can't opt out of taxation for schools, the NHS, etc" argument. The TV licence has *degenerated* into a tax, whereas when the BBC had a monopoly, it was simply a fee.

    Schools and the NHS are *essential* things that any government should be doing. TV is not. It is entertainment. The best way to do it would be to split the BBC into the 'TV for Consumers' arm, and make them have ads like the other channels (hence no need for the licence to raise money), who IMO, they have degenerated into being no better than.

    The other issue is the cost, a one-size-fits-all when nowadays, much of the BBC's output literally isn't worth watching; at a massive £3-4 a week (for a minimum wage earner that *is* massive), one is forced to continually pay for rubbish just to get the few gems; since the BBC is no longer special, it's time it was disestablished and made to pay for itself; in which case, it should realise that no commercial entity would be allowed to get away with that.

    For the rest, such as the World Service ... well when I can stop laughing at the idea that the UK is still a Power of World Importance (tm), maybe HMG should pay *that* from the FO's budget :)

    I guess the bottom line is that the BBC is no longer the paragon that it was and shouldn't therefore be allowed to keep the privileged position that it was only permitted due to being one.

    Time has caught up with you, BBC; now here's your coat - there's the door!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Is Television for Real or Imaginary Event Hosting?

      The TV licence has *degenerated* into a tax, whereas when the BBC had a monopoly, it was simply a fee. ...... Martin Howe

      Without television, everyone is left lost and abandoned high and dry with just memories of glorious pasts and scant breaking news of future production programs. Methinks it's worth every red cent of a gracious fee gratefully accepted expected to be paid for just that alone, never mind everything else it effortlessly provides.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Schools and the NHS are *essential* things that any government should be doing. TV is not. It is entertainment.

      There is a bit of essential, namely emergency broadcasts. Stay indoors, turn on your TV/Radio. Plus space for a few BBC folks in Secret Bunkers to run broadcasts when the SHTF big-time. But technology has moved on, audiences are more fragmented making it ever more challenging to run a proper EBN. Part of that is however covered by licence conditions which can require broadcasters & networks to support EBN functionality, even in major situations, ie turning off encryption flags on subscription services so EBN content is en clear & potentially reaches the widest audience.

      The best way to do it would be to split the BBC into the 'TV for Consumers' arm, and make them have ads like the other channels (hence no need for the licence to raise money), who IMO, they have degenerated into being no better than.

      The BBC tells itself it needs to compete to stay relevant, so must provide fluff like daytime TV and a plethora of soaps. Of course that harms commercial broadcasters, especially given funding disparity, and if the BBC schedules it's own content to compete directly with other channels to try and pull eyeballs away. And the BBC's isolated against economic shocks, eg general downturn in ad spending, or any economic effects like the current Covid crisis.

      Changing the funding model and slimming down to core PSB (ie more educate/inform) also takes away some of the commercial pressure. Entertain me, or I'll ditch the licence fee. Educate me, and I might learn something.. Like waaay back in the day when Open University & schools programs used to be broadcast in the mornings & weekends. People may choose not to watch, but for the ones that do, it's a cheap way to educate.

  19. IGotOut Silver badge

    Keep it public...

    ...but trim it back.

    Let's put it in context

    Q: Why not keep it public owned, but funded by ads

    A: It exists already. It's called Channel 4

    Q: Why not be pure subscription like Netflix or Disney?

    A: And what about Radio and Websites? Do we shut all the Radio stations down, or are the subscribers expected fund everyone else?

    Q: Why not have a mixed subscription for old content.

    A: It now exists, it's called BritBox

    Q: Why not sell all the services oversea

    A: Same reason you can't get the same content on Netflix et al across all regions. Licensing. Some things like background music can mean you are dealing with dozens of licensing agencies.

    I'd personally like to see it kept as it is, but trimmed back, including the "stars", you don't need to pay the like of Lineker or Clare Balding, when there are others who are just as good, if not better out there. Stop the "we have to pay the market rate". No you don't. If they want to leave, let them. People don't watch the likes of Match of the Day to see the commentators. You could dump most of the social media rubbish, you don't have to tweet, Instagram or Facebook every single thing. Much of it is moving out of London and this should continue, you can get property for a fraction of the costs of London. If the stars don't want to relocate, then goodbye. If famous stars don't want to visit for interviews, so be it. They will be the ones not getting free publicity for whatever book or film they are trying to flog.

    You only have to compare CBBC and CBeebies to pretty much every other childrens channel in the world to see what the funding does.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Keep it public...

      "Q: Why not keep it public owned, but funded by ads

      A: It exists already. It's called Channel 4"

      Because without the BBC to compete against, the commercial channels will have 5+ minutes of ads every 10 minutes like in the US. It's already happening now since the relaxation of the ad break rules where instead of fixed length breaks they can average out the ad breaks over 24 hours. This mean popular peak time shows being edited down for longer ad breaks while the midnight to 6am shows barely even have ad breaks. It's most noticeable on US owned cable and sat channels.

      (and yes,, I did upvote your whole post. I just thought that bit needed more fully clarifying)

  20. mark l 2 Silver badge

    People who just say make the BBC a subscription channel don't understand that for a lot of people that will involve having to buy additional equipment. Freeview was not designed to support subscription pay channels so they might require a new STB and if you don't have an unmetered broadband internet connection you can't stream it online.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Freeview a.k.a. OnDigital was explicity designed to support subscription channels.

    2. ssh_proxy

      You want it, you pay for the extra equipment. Simple. The rest of us can then spend the BBC tax as we see fit. It is all about choice.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The argument for the BBC's funding model is a hangover from the broadcasting era, and many internet-only consumers have voted with their wallets.

    If they think they can levy a "broadband" tax, new ISPs will be founded that explicitly block all BBC online services, for those with no intention to pay.

    Has the Register considered demanding a levy from all internet users, whether they visit the site or not?

  23. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Dick Laurent is dead

    Jack Schofield, Guardian's Ask Jack tech columnist, dies at 72

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/askjack/2020/apr/01/jack-schofield-guardian-ask-jack-tech-columnist-dies-at-72

    My favourite Guardian writer by far. And not because he wrote about tech, because he was a gentleman.

  24. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Ummm...

    Can we just clear up a pointh here. You don't need a TV licence to own a TV receiver. You need a TV licence to watch TV programmes at the point they are broadcast i.e. watching the 6pm news at 6pm, or to watch content via BBC iPlayer. That's it.

    I have a TV but have not paid the licence fee for 6 years as I do not watch either iPlayer or TV at the time it is broadcast. I am quite happily entitled to play on my PS4, stream content from All4 and Netflix and watch DVDs and such like without a TV licence.

    Yes I have had the Crapita goons round on a couple of occasions, but a swift "p**s off" is all it takes to make them go away.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plus admin fees

    And who would administer the collection of the 'BBC Broadband Tax"?

    And who, after collecting the tax, would be responsible for routing the funds to the BBC? Why, the new ISP BBC Tax Department every ISP would need to create. And who would have to pay for the new BBC Tax departments and their accountants and other staff? Why, the ISPs' customers of course.

    And how would the customers pay? Through increased broadband costs, obviously.

    It'd be like paying BT telephone line rental when you have Virgin fibre broadband and no landline phone.

    (And just how many times does the BBC expect people to have to pay for Dad's Army repeats?)

  26. Apprentice

    Time to end funding of "celebrities" lavish lifestyles

    Stop paying the likes of Gary Lineker, Chris Evans and Zoe Ball huge salaries or get rid of them completely. The obscene amount of money they get for the small amount of work they do is NOT something I want to contribute to.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Abroad

    I’l like to be able to legally watch the BBC abroad. Currently I voluntarily pay the licence fee to my old UK address and also pay a proxy provider. But I’m still illegally watching iPlayer from a small foreign country quite close to the UK (up the M1!). I’d like this to change and I’m hoping it might.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Abroad

      But I’m still illegally watching iPlayer from a small foreign country quite close to the UK (up the M1!).

      Sorry, AC. Watching iPlayer in Yorkshire isn't actually illegal.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Abroad

        They have their own regional version. It's called AyeUpPlayer.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020