Law & Legal & Attorney Politics

The Licensing Fee Is Not a Legitimate Way of Funding the BBC

Every year, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) profit approximately £3 billion, £8 million per day, with 75% of this coming from what is known as the Licence Fee (onebillionpageviews.
It seems as if the BBC has gone from an elite class of British broadcasting to a multinational corporation, based on totalitarianism- where audiences have no choice but to pay up or face a jail sentence.
But is this all really necessary? I ask whether the BBC can fully justify their fees that audiences are faced with and whether it really proves value for money.
In 1927, the BBC sold assets of its' branded licensed radio receivers, that were formerly a monopoly, to a new non-commercial BBC which operates from the Crown.
This was a time where there was no possibility of commercial broadcasting available from inside the UK until Leonard F.
Plugge set up what is known as the International Broadcasting Company (IBC).
Plugge successfully demonstrated that State monopolies such as the BBC could be broken which invited other parties to become attracted to the idea of creating a new commercial radio station with a commercial purpose.
This has extended into today's society where commercial radio and TV stations have found similar success.
Collins, R refers to the Communications Act 2003 which requires Ofcom to 'further the interests of citizens and consumers'.
The BBC regards itself as providing for citizens as "all members of the public in the United kingdom", however, as 'citizens' are paying for the service and fuelling an industry, are they not active agents as consumers of the services the BBC provides? It was reported by the BBC that in 1998 to 1999, a gross profit of £172 million was made making the BBC a creditable economic power and influential in the industry.
However, with this money coming from extra fees and from a treasury of taxes and subsidies, the BBC owes a lot to the public and its growing demand for its established high quality programming.
With the TV licensing fee costing £145 per household, per year, it is not surprising that approximately 200,000 people are prosecuted every year for refusing to pay the fees.
The system is in serious need of updating into a twenty-first century public broadcasting system where audiences are given freedom of speech and voices are heard.
The unfair system is to blame for the growing numbers of unpaid fees as it is priced per household, regardless of how many inhabitants, it is non means tested; therefore, those less fortunate economically are faced with a losing battle and it is not based on the amount of viewing, meaning the money goes to waste in some households.
This clear lack of judgement and fairness needs to be abolished or another alternative is needed.
Without any discussion or consultation, the BBC itself claims there is no alternative.
However, it is proven that alternatives are successful such as sponsorships, underwriting and advertising which demonstrate how outside funding can be used to fund an equally successful broadcasting company.
For instance, Channel 4 made a revenue of £830.
3 million in 2009 (2009report.
com), with a gross profit of £62 million, operating in this way.
Obviously this is somewhat less than the BBC, however, Channel 4 still manages to produce rival entertainment programming, equal to the BBC.
Channel 4 attracts the lower demographic audience, which some may argue is most powerful.
The ages of 18-30 are Channel 4's key audience, being highly influential and powerful in terms of social diligence, the BBC needs to target this demographic in order to be a credible entertainment source for young teens.
The licence fee discourages this; people are less willing to compensate for equal value entertainment.
The BBC needs to question whether the licence fee is really paying for better value programming or just smokes and mirrors.
It is questionable what the licence fees are actually paying for.
Arguably, high quality programming can be found elsewhere, so is it safe to say we are only paying not to be hounded with adverts? Other commercial channels are living proof that advertising and sponsorship can support a broadcasting network.
So where is the money going to? The BBC is made up of 2 national, 14 regional TV channels, 5 nation, 44 regional radio channels, BBC World Service, BBC Choice and Parliament and BBC online.
It is debatable whether we really need these services.
There is a question of priority.
In 1998/1999, it cost the BBC £133 million to collect fees, and £400 million in the form of a treasury which involves tax payer's money to support the 23,000 employees and to continue to buy huge amounts of goods and services to maintain its prodigious programme output.
This absurd amount of money could justifiably be spent elsewhere schooling, and education, something which the BBC seems to strongly believe in.
Polls are showing consistent opposition to the fee.
Yet, the government has said the licence will go on and on, rising faster than the rate of inflation and enforced by criminal sanctions against those who do not wish to pay it.
The unfair system which particularly neglects lower income households portrays license fee evaders as criminals, as 'TV Sinners' (NACAB evidence report, 1999).
However, all they are demonstrating is freedom of choice, something lacking in this fundamentalist institution.
The enforced criminal sanctions in place to punish those who oppose paying £145 for BBC channels, where similar broadcasting can be found on other free TV channels, are costing further tax payers funding to prosecute those who do not wish to pay.
Criminal convictions, court cases and jail sentences seem a harsh punishment for freedom of speech, something which society strongly believes in.
It seems the BBC wants to control and manipulate audiences in its efforts to 'inform, educate, stimulate and enrich' (Barnett, S, Seaton, J, 2010:1).
The BBC has a reputation for excellence that all British citizens should be proud of.
The 'Campaign Abolish Licensing' (C.
) believes that the BBC should retain its role as our public service broadcaster, but within limits.
There can be no justification for the BBC to take such a large sum from the public purse when other sectors - health, education, transport - are desperately short of money.
The Licence Fee should not be used to subsidise a multinational corporation that has overstepped the mark.
It's time for freedom of choice.
Scrap fundamentalist compulsion.
Scrap the license fee.

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