The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Now That I Own The BBC

I can’t understand any of the arguments against the BBC license fee. Even taking into consideration the employment of Chris Moyles, George Lamb and Jonathan Ross, it’s pretty good value for money.

And it’s not as if commercial television is exactly thriving right now. ITV wasn’t exactly doing great business before the crunchie; now it seems to be trying to come up with a business model for being a TV station without having any TV shows. Channel 4 and Channel 5 may end up merging – hopefully to become Chanel 9 from The Fast Show. Bono estenti! Scorchio!

And Sky television has the inordinate cheek to charge viewers a fee to watch programmes and then show the programmes with adverts! So you end up paying twice! For programmes like Lost, 24, and House which would otherwise be freely available on the BBC, Channel 4 or Channel 5!

The reason why abolishing the license fee makes no sense is this; if all TV is funded by advertising, it means the amount of money available to all channels (including ITV) will drop – because the money available from advertising is finite. Advertising on the BBC won’t increase the amount of funds available; indeed, increasing the channels means the money gets spread more thinly – which could well be why ITV has been the hardest-hit by the advent of digital.

Of course, the BBC isn’t perfect. Some of its deals with outside agencies don’t seem to have been very competitive or deliver good value. Mark Thompson’s plan that the BBC should invest license fee cash in the property market hasn’t exactly paid off. And the BBC has to become more accountable and less apologetic; develop a culture of trust, responsibility and devolved decision-making rather than a culture of fear, ‘compliance’ and top-down management.


  1. With you here.

    But every time the Beeb makes another "reality" show or humiliat-a-thon, they hand another clip of ammo to the license-haters.

    Until they have the balls to eschew populism, they'll always struggle to justify themselves.

  2. What annoys me about license fee haters is that they equate it with a subscription, as in "I don't watch BBC ONE, so why do I have to pay?"
    The license is essantially a tax on owning television receiving equipment. The fact the BBC gets the cash is, and should be, incidental.
    Yes it's FOR funding the BBC but it's not a subscription, just as paying income tax doesn't give you the right to choose what books the local library buys-in.

  3. If it was down to met, the license fee would be more for people with bigger television sets or HD. Because they're getting more telly than the rest of us!