The BBC's TV licence fee can no longer be justified in the age of multi-channel television, satellite tv and streaming platforms, according to a YouGOV poll more than two-thirds of those surveyed said the £154.50 licence fee should be abolished given current conditions.
During last year's election campaign, Boris Johnson, who has since won the majority, suggested that the TV licence might be on borrowed time. After a safety-first manifesto and little other announcements so as not to frighten the horses he went on to say ‘You have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a media organisation still make sense in the long term, given the way other organisations manage to fund themselves’.
We think Boris is right, and we find it odd that previous Prime Ministers haven't contemplated ending the TV licence. Considering so many state institutions have been privatised over the past 40 years, there is no point in having a state broadcasting service that is funded via a hypothecated tax – a system that dates from the days when the technology did not exist to charge for watching an individual TV channel and devised at a time when broadcasting was truly a state monopoly. It's more than obvious that this setup is bad for competition and worse for consumers.
Imagine paying an annual fee to Tesco, and in return you could help yourself to all the Tesco groceries you wanted for no further cost, but you'd still HAVE TO pay the fee even if you shopped at Sainsbury's, Morisson's or Asda. That would be bad for competition as well as lower Tesco's product quality.
So why has no other government even considered touching the BBC? We think it's the fear of such a powerful media platform that could destroy their political career in a few weeks if they tried to take away their funding. But Boris has had so many attacks from the media he doesn't give a toss.
In any case, the TV licence is on its last legs, whether political leaders want to preserve it or not. In 2018 37.000 households decided they don't need a licence and stopped paying it, making it the first year in history when the BBC sold fewer licences than the year before. Most people watch more shows on Netflix, Amazon or other streaming platforms than they do BBC shows - especially the younger generation, who move quickly between different accommodations and consider a property-based licence fee is a huge inconvenience.
The sad and weird part is the BBC refuses to see its own nemesis. It clings to the safety of the licence fee like a child to a comfort blanket, completely ignoring the possibility of a fully-commercial future. If the BBC had genuine confidence in the quality of its shows it wouldn’t need to worry – consumers would line up to pay a subscription fee. When talking about the end of the licence fee, we think Boris is being kind. The only thing that could save the BBC from a sad, lingering death is if a commercial charging structure is forced onto it.
What's YOUR opinion on this matter? Do you pay the TV licence? Let us know what you think will happen to the BBC is this is abolished, by commenting on our Facebook page.