Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part IV)

At this point, I’m going to try to tie together the thoughts I’ve mentioned in the previous three posts to try and come up with a coherent whole.

1) The BBC is a public broadcasting service

The major problem with this one is who exactly is the public and who exactly funds it. The BBC has a split personality between the internal services and the World Service. Not to mention that Britons can be found throughout the world (ex-Pats)

2) How does one fund such a being?

Is it truly fair for the British people to be the only ones expected to pay for this service? Why can’t external users contribute as well? Do you need need to use TV Detector Vans?

3) Can the BBC management deal with reality?
I know one of the higher ups has also suggested charging for iPlayer use, but I can’t find the citation in my posts. On the other hand, it is mentioned quite a bit as a possibility

There are major  problems with requiring people to either have licences and use iPlayer–the main one being that most people have already paid the licence fee.  There is a small subset of people are able to get away without having a licence yet still sble to use the iPlayer service.

I could reinvent the wheel, but this is a very good post by Paul Sawers  on why people should pay the licence fee:
thenextweb.com/uk/2012/01/21/theres-no-i-in-iplayer-heres-why-the-tv-licence-fee-must-be-preserved-in-the-uk/

In fact, that is pretty much my position on why the fee should be paid.  I use the service and I want to contribute.

Paul did neglect that the licence fee is also supposed to be fair.  There are methods by which one can be exempted from paying the fee.  Not to mention, there are reduced fees and exemptions (e.g., a 50% reduction on the TV Licence fee if you’re blind/severely sight impaired and Second homes).  And you can’t just pay money to the BBC because you really like their programmes since that money is supposed to come from the licence fee. So, that rules out somebody paying MORE for the service than they have to–that drives the Beeb even nuttier than trying to get a licence for a non-existent address!

Ultimately,  The BBC is a British institution, paid for by the British Public.  It is responsive to its public (well, to some extent).  The British Public should respect it as much as it does government.

To quote Paul Sawers:

But unlike Virgin, Sky, Netflix and such like, nobody has a choice of whether they pay for a TV licence or not. You may never actively watch a BBC programme or visit its website, but you’re sure as hell paying for it if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Even for those that do enjoy BBC content, the ‘lack of choice’ element to the licence fee still gets some people riled.

But here’s the thing. If you were to give people a choice, many would choose not to pay for it and the BBC as we know it would crumble. However, it’s a public service, just as the NHS, police force and fire brigade are, and it should be preserved.

Nothing grates me more than when someone complains about having to pay taxes for services they never use. Speaking to Q magazine last year, superstar singer Adele said:

“I’m mortified to have to pay 50%! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are shit, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [the album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”

There are way too many ‘I’ and ‘my’ references in there. So Adele is rich and doesn’t want to pay for things she doesn’t use? My heart bleeds. The scourge of individualism is growing, and this ‘pull the ladder up and screw the rest’ culture is such a bad omen for society. It’s indicative of a much deeper problem, where people care more about themselves than the success of ‘society’.

Just because the BBC deals in news, entertainment, information and education doesn’t make it any less vital for UK society than a health service. And just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

And Paul is correct when he points out how little the licence costs in relation to other things.  If one considers that one can see a play, opera, ballet, film, and so on–especially a Covent Garden one as part of this service, it is a bargain.  Paul and I are in complete agreement when he says:

But the underlying philosophy (at the BBC) is a sound one – an ad-free public service broadcaster that EVERYONE pays for. That must be preserved, and the UK would be much worse off without it.

Now, my proposal is to stop with the threats and get down to what the BBC is supposed to do: educate. Educate the public as to what an important institution the BBC is to British Culture. Point out that cooperation is what makes Britain work.

Even better yet, show what it’s like in other countries where Public Broadcasting is whining about the lack of support. And the rampant commercialism which one sees in US broadcasting (even the public sector).

As Paul says, But over and above all this, the BBC offers everyone a little respite from the commercially-driven media that permeates every nook and cranny around the world. In the UK, the BBC is an ad-free zone, and it must remain so.

I couldn’t agree more.

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