The big idea
The TV License re-evaluated
Understandably, there is a growing amount of hostility towards the TV license. Many see the License fee as just another tax and, perhaps, do not recognise the important part it plays in maintaining high quality and cheap broadcasting in Britain.
Britain has the best television and radio in the world and one of the most economical. The unique way broadcasting is funded through the TV license is a fundamental reason for this. Although the public may feel like they are paying twice to watch television and have no choice in the matter, in fact the license fee actually sets the price point for TV in Britain. Just look across the ocean to our neighbours in North America who have fully commercial television. A typical cable bill is $100 per month and the service is riddled with advertising every eight minutes.
The TV license is not a “BBC-TV tax”, yes it funds BBC television but also national and local radio services. The so-called “freeview” channels also benefit from it.
However, the BBC has changed over the last decade and become too commercial. Celebrities are paid far too handsome salaries and private production companies profit from BBC programming. It seems a shake up at the Beeb and a re-evaluation of the license fee would be in the publics’ interested. The uniqueness of the license fee should be protected but its revenue used in a new way.
My proposal is that the TV license is replaced with a “Broadcasting License” to reflect that the financial contributions from the license fee not only support BBC television production but local and national radio services and other independent TV broadcasters. We also need to recognise the changing way the public access broadcasting. The Broadcasting License should also support the internet/network infrastructure across the UK. The new license, as well as supporting the BBC, should also contribute to the development of a national fibre optic network and supply every UK license fee payer with free high-speed broadband internet access. Profits from the commercial arm of the BBC should also be used to support the national broadcasting and network infrastructure.
The BBC also needs to get back to its roots. It should become a television producer again rather than a publisher. It should reinvest in its production and post-production facilities so that it can make its own programming once more. The BBC should be making a wide spectrum of programming not just cheap commercial reality-type shows. It should be the world leader in training broadcasting professionals and in research and development of broadcasting technology. Its back catalogue of vintage programming and radio productions should be made available online for the public to access freely. No more ridiculous salaries for celebrities. The BBC does not need to pay these high wages, there are plenty more upcoming actors and presenters ready waiting to take they place without requiring Hollywood contracts.
In summary my proposals are:
- Ditch the current TV license for a new “Broadcasting License”.
- The License to also fund a national high-speed fibre optic network.
- Free high-speed broadband internet access for all license fee payers.
- The BBC to make its own television programmers in house.
- The BBC should be a world leader in broadcasting staff training and R&D.
- No more celebrities on Hollywood salaries.
- The BBC should be making TV programmes for all from costume dramas, to documentaries, educational, special interest, comedies, etc. Cut the cheap commercial reality and quiz shows.
- BBC worldwide profits re-invested in the broadcasting/network infrastructure.
The downside – there has to be one right?
The new Broadcasting License would be payable by any residence owning a TV, radio, or with any other means of accessing “Freeview” channels either through terrestrial, satellite, cable or via the internet.
Why does this matter?
We have the best television and radio in the world. Let's keep it that way.
If the License fee is abolished without a suitable replacement, the cost of television reception will be governed by the media moguls, it will be destroyed with advertising and television production in Britain will go the same way as the British film industry.
The Broadcasting License, would be even better value and fairer for the British public, would meet the needs of changing technology, keep Britain as the world-leader in high quality broadcasting and restore the BBC to its former glory.