Why the TV licence fee needs to change

No watches the banks of television screens in John Lewis as England take on Slovenia in the final group game of the world cup.

No watches the banks of television screens in John Lewis as England take on Slovenia in the final group game of the world cup.

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Last week I read about a group of MPs’ calls for the scrapping of the TV licence and in turn, the BBC becoming a subscription service. As a result, I asked myself: “In essence, is the TV licence fee nothing more than a form of blackmail?”

Arguments for and against these suggestions have escalated but, like many discussions, those involved in the pros and cons have lost sight of what the core problem is. We are not paying solely for the services provided by the BBC. Our funds also “allow” us to watch or record live transmissions from other entertainment providers, many of which charge a subscription fee.

Hold on, I pay subscriptions to other television services; I know what I am paying for and what I get for it. What percentage of my TV licence goes to the BBC?

Why am I paying for the “right” to watch or record a live transmission on a TV that to some may be useless if I don’t have a licence?

There are two separate entities here; a fee for using a TV for live television and a fee for the BBC services.

I have no doubt that when broken down into the radio stations and multiple channels the BBC “fee” is well worth it, especially when compared to its rival’s fees.Again, more transparency is needed here to appease some of the public’s creased brows.

“We can’t have adverts on the BBC!” – A comment I’ve heard several times, for me without foundation. A lot of viewers, myself included, record programmes to watch at their leisure. In doing so we can fast forward through any adverts; Commercial radio stations have good material too and I never get bored while listening to Classic FM.

With the advent of Netflix and other providers creating their own series solely for transmission, perhaps the BBC needs to take note and move with the times, separating itself from the association with the licence fee.Potential advertisers on the BBC would surely be fighting over the available slots and would dispel any suggestions of complacency in the corporation’s productions.

If the licence fee were re-worded or even absorbed into another tax somewhere, because let’s face it, apart from the BBC part it is a tax covering all live TV entertainment, it would actually allow the BBC to fulfil a greater potential than it currently has. Almost 500,000 people use the iplayer; untapped earnings or discrimination against those who pay the fee?

Could the Government charge the cost to Sky and other providers, including the BBC should they become a subscription service?

The vast majority pay for it now anyway, it might just not hurt as much if this outdated charge went into the shadows.