Monday, July 14, 2008
Greg and Steve on the BBC
I see that Greg Dyke has called for an end to the UK television licence fee. If it means getting rid of those stupid "its all in the database" commercials, then I am all for it. Do you need a licence to watch catch-up TV on a computer monitor with iPlayer? Or is it just when you have access to live-TV? Do you know or care? How will be enforced? And why does it cost the UK 123 million quid just to collect this fee?
In the Netherlands they have made public broadcasting part of general taxation for years now. The Dutch government actually does better out of it because they often tax more than one person in the household and no-one knows how much is actually being deducted for broadcasting. Greg suggested that the BBC should be funded by an exchequer grant and the money currently spent on collecting licence fees could be used for a public service fund, some of which could be used to fund local television.
The standard argument against funding the BBC through general taxation is that it would potentially compromise the political independence of the BBC. However, the BBC World Service radio is funded by a government grant and is generally recognised for its editorial impartiality.
Meanwhile, listen to Steven Fry's latest podcast on broadcasting which is a great personal story arguing for a well funded BBC. In fact, it is a short history of UK broadcasting in Fry's usual engaging style. There is a transcript of the podcast in the forum, but you should listen to this story. Theatre of the mind and all that.