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Thank you for visiting my Scooby1970 blogspot. I update whenever I can and when I have something interesting to share. You will also find published work of mine at Gaming Illustrated. Gaming Illustrated is where most of my work now takes place, but I will transfer some of my more popular articles from there over to this blog, in extended format.

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:) Mark

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The BBC & the licence fee

Introduction - The BBC licence fee.
Straight fact, the BBC makes over £3.1 Billion a year on the TV Licence fee in the UK. A huge chunk of this money is squandered and wasted needlessly on it's staff and expenses. So in this day and age, where we are all about to go digital, do we really need a BBC licence fee?

We are one of the few countries in the World that has this extra tax burden in our everyday lives, however, by most it is not wanted, and by many of us we feel it is not needed. As I said, the whole of the UK will soon become digital, which means there are no options that could be put into place that would allow us not to pay this unfair tax, should we wish not to. So, here are the three options that I would hope for in the coming years.

Option 1: Advertisements
This may not be a popular option, but that said it does not hurt the viewing figures of ITV or any of the BBC's other competitors. The BBC already shows advertisements for it's own channels within the BBC network, so there is no excuse why it could not be funded commercially by advertisements. During this current economic climate, every TV and Radio station is finding it hard, so why should the BBC be almost excluded from this? Putting Advertisements on the BBC would mean that they would have to use the money they obtain wisely, so therefore you could say they could revert to making better quality programming once again. It's an option, but there are two more I could suggest.

Option 2: Subscription
So, subscription to the BBC network of channels should you wish to view them, this could either be done as a network package, or simply paying a little extra on your Sky or Virgin bill. This is the way that I would really like the BBC to go should they wish us, the tax paying public, to fund them. I was counting up my viewing and listening time of BBC channels, it comes to 2.5 hours a week of BBC 1, 2 hours of BBC 2, 4 hours a week for BBC News, 2 hours of BBC Radio Wales and about an hour of BBC Radio 1. That's pretty low viewing and listening pleasure for the money I currently pay, so subscription would give me the option to subscribe certain months when there is perhaps sport on TV that I may want to watch.

Option 3: Pay As You View
A great option for almost everyone I know. In this world of multi-platform TV the BBC has a distinct unfair advantage on everybody else in that it gets an unfair and unjust tax paid to them for us to watch their inferior channels. If you want to watch documentaries, then there are now dedicated channels that do a far better job than the BBC, if you want to watch music television, again, there are dedicated channels. As for news channels, the BBC news channels comes a close second to Sky News and to be fair, news should be free to everyone regardless of what service carries it. So, Pay As You Go is a great option for those of use who rarely watch the antiquated BBC services.

Quality of BBC programming
For those people who say that the BBC is an institution and has quality programming then this is an incorrect statement that has more to do with snobbery than actually to do with the quality of the BBC's programming itself. As stated in the previous paragraph, if you want a certain genre of TV content then it can be found elsewhere in as good as quality, if not better. What does the BBC really offer the TV audience of the 21st Century? Antique selling programs, home relocation programs, cooking programs, ancient movies and the odd decent program in the mix. It's just not acceptable with the money they earn, and people have to stand up and say "NO" to this waste of tax payers money.

So, what are the options and where should we go from here?
It's now about time to stop the licence fee and I believe choose a better option for the viewer. There is no reason why daytime TV cannot be funded by advertisements, there are many companies who would give their left arm to show an advert on the BBC. For evening viewing this could be an option of Pay As You Go or subscription should you wish not to lose the TV programs you never watch. As for Radio, there is no reason why advertisements could not fund the radio sector.

If the BBC is to be a Public Channel with the peoples interest at heart, I would move across the nasty cheap property and antiques programs from BBC 1 to BBC 2 and concentrate on more high-brow items during the day. BBC2 could become a "living" type channel with all the cheap programming. BBC 3 and BBC 4 could be merged, at the moment they are both filled with endless repeats, so are just wasting tax payers money.

BBC News is the one place where they actually do a reasonable job, so I believe they should be allowed to bid to have their news bulletins placed on rival TV channels, just the same as Sky News supply Channel 5 TV.

Many of us forget that the BBC is indeed an enterprise. On top of their money they make from the licence tax, they also sell their programs to channels all over the World and they have a vast merchandise line. Where does all this money go?

British TV is not perfect, it's not even the best in the World anymore. That's nothing to be ashamed of, peoples attitudes have changed, and many people would rather just sit and watch the news or sport all day than the rubbish that the BBC and others offer. We do need a change though, and now, during this digital turn-on is the ideal time for this to happen.