back to article Europe takes aim at BBC licence fee

The European Commission has opened a period of consultation on its proposals to change the rules governing state aid handed to broadcasters. Public broadcasters across Europe - including the beeb - get €22bn in government funding - in third place behind agriculture and transport. The EC is keen to tweak the rules to allow …

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Unhappy

do what!?

"But opponents of the proposals say they would hamstring public service broadcasters exploiting new media technologies."

Do me a favour!

Sky have been pumping out far more HD material and (afaik) well before BBC ... without its "unique" funding. And when did the Beeb release a sky"+" box or did i miss that major event??? All the beeb had to do was get on top of HD whilst other companies (Sky/Virgin/Telewest) had to get on to the channels and create suitable receivers and they all did it well in advance of the "uniquely" funded bbc.

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Flame

Stuff Nellie.....

Here we go again....

Nellie sticking her nose into things that don't concern her.

As far as I am concerned, the BBC is well worth the £150 or so quid a year we pay for it. Radio Four and Radio Five are worth that on their own.

Basically, I travel for a living, I'm sat in southern Africa right now and I have seen a lot of national telly......

The quality of stuff thrown out by the BBC accross all media, telly, radio and web is frankly astonsishing for the price and should be protected at all costs.

Nellier can stuff herself if she is going to start poking her nise in and telling us how we should deliver content. When the French Belgians and Romanians start producing as good as we do, then she can crow, but until then....... %Q£$%W$% off.

P.

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Black Helicopters

Interesting!

The BBC is about to have its funding source investigated and just a week or so before the BBC becomes the centre of a 'media storm' about its 'standards' which somehow manages to get sidetracked into a discussion about how much money the BBC is 'wasting' paying salaries. Somewhat convenient that.

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Bronze badge

Turkeys, Christmas...

"The European Broadcasting Union, made up of national broadcasters, is opposed to the draft proposals."

Really? They're opposed to the idea of reducing their current absolute monopolies*? I'm shocked.

The sooner I can stop subscribing to the BBC the better. I have no objection to other people continuing to watch it and pay for it, as long as I'm not forced to do either.

(* a monopoly is where you do not have the option of replacing them. You can subscribe to other services here, but cannot receive TV without subscribing to the BBC, making it a monopoly.)

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IT Angle

BBC

The Beeb is not state-aided - it's entirely funded by TVLA extortion.

It's about time someone looked at the monopoly - I'm sick of having to subsidise all the English TV and Radio stations whilst only having 1 of each here in Scotland.

About time the whining south started paying their way.

Oh yes - and the IT angle on this story is .... where?

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Anonymous Coward

Licence?

Why, whenever there's a discussion about the BBC do we get the whiners complaining that they don't like paying the licence fee? As another poster has stated, the fee is worth it for the non-television content alone.

To the AC above, can you not receive the 5 terestrial TV channels and numerous radio stations then? Is the BBC website blocked to your IP address (as it is elsewhere in the world)?

Overall, excessive salaries excepted, the BBC offers superbe value for money. If you don't want to pay the answer is easy - get rid of the idiot box in the living room like I did. I know it would deprive you of the right to watch the soaps, BB or footy but I can assure you that your life will be fuller and more satisfying without them.

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Stop

What public service...

I repeat... what public service does the BBC provide that others funded by advertising revenue do not? The BBC these days is just one long advertisement for itself punctuated by hours and hours of pointless drivel, with the occasional decent programme aired.

I don't see how programs like strictly come dancing, can fat teens hunt, match of the day, eastenders, or that utter car crash of a series "Merlin" etc. or paying their stable of "celebrities" million pound salaries can be a true public service when I can get exactly the same utter shit pumped into my home by the likes of ITV or Channel 4 for free. The BBC doesn't do proper journalism or reporting either anymore so that's another cornerstone of their cartel that has turned to custard.

I, unlike most people it seems - don't need 200 channels of drivel to make me feel better about myself and I'm certainly tired of paying the BBC monopoly £100 or so per year to receive their 25 or so radio and TV channels of drivel either (under the auspices of a needing a licence).

WTF!!! A licence... for a TV!!!! Think about it... I can see why you need a licence to drive a car, or a licence if you own a dangerous animal, or a licence to prove you have had adequate training if your bag is pursuing an interest that has the potential to cause harm to another person. But a licence for a fu**ing telly...

The sooner this funding debacle changes the better.

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Oh shut up...

The phrase that springs to mind when people bemoan the BBC or the license fee is "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"

Would you prefer the tripe that comes out of ITV and 75% US imported telly (which itself is 75% crap) instead?

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Same language

So you don't speak english in Scotland then?

Never watched little britain, the office or any such programs? Why not try watching french public TV instead, which not only do you have to pay for, but has bloody loads of adverts and absolutely nothing worth watching. I also think my friends out in Brittany would be probably very happy to have anything close to the same level of local content that you get in Scotland.

Stop blaming the south and being so parochial. Don't you think the 10 million or so who live in London get fed up with 4 million scots monopolising British politics, never mind the other regions of the UK. Serious chip on shoulder should be removed.

The BBC is by far for its price the best broadcaster that I know of and I have had to put up with both french and US tv in the past. Has SKY as of yet for all it millons it sucks up in subscriptions produced any decent in house content? Can it even pretend to compete with it's US equivalent HBO?

regards

jc

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Stop

Save our PSBs

I'm sorry but pretty soon the BBC/C4 are going to be the only wholly British owned broadcaster in this country. If we don't save what we have we'll pretty soon end up with all broadcasting being owned abroad - like most of our other "utilities" in this country.

BTW ~£150/annum = best value tax money I spend all year.

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@Aristotle...

"I repeat... what public service does the BBC provide that others funded by advertising revenue do not?"

Radio 4, for a start, which won't even be taken from my cold dead hands.

I could go on, but I won't, it's likely to degrade into a stream of abusive filth.

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Justify it...

"Would you prefer the tripe that comes out of ITV and 75% US imported telly (which itself is 75% crap) instead?"

Just because it's to your taste, why should other people pay for it?

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Unhappy

Since I left the UK I really miss the BBC...

ukp150 is well worth it for BBC1 alone. You have no idea what standard of crap and recycled US sitcoms you get when they have to fund it by advertising, and you get 30% of all airtime devoted to adverts!

Since I left the UK, I realise I would willingly pay the license fee if I could access the advertising-free UK TV channels from here instead of the local rubbish. In the UK, I had a Tivo and had more than enough quality TV to watch. Here, I only use the TV to watch DVDs.

If Europe manage to kill off the BBC then that's the last thing I miss about the UK gone - good thing I left early and beat the rush...

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@Same Language

Better check your facts about numbers there ....

That's the typical response from the English - because the majority of the country is English we should have to put up with the parochial shit that's produced for the BBC-loving masses, not complain and just lump it.

What has language got to do with relevance of programming?

ALL the radio channels are completely English-biased with the exception of Radio Scotland which sucks anyway.

When the Scottish schools are on holiday do we get special programming like the English do when their schools are on holiday? No

When the exam results come out in Scotland do we get help lines set up on the national services like when the English results come out? No!

So don't try to lecture me about the value of the English Broadcasting Company and parochialism.

I don't have a choice if I want to receive any broadcast service live - I have to pay for England's favourite programming.

And you have a choice with your politics too - don't vote for the MPs then! I don't give a crap if the English are tired with Scottish MPs.

How do 4M Scots monopolise politics? Weren't there any English MPs worth electing?

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@Stuza

I subscribed to Sky HD last year, and was appalled by the LACK of HD material on the Sky channels. Very little of it was actually HD, much was just up-scaled standard definition (is the Simpsons in HD actually better than SD?) And unlike the BBC HD service (which is FTA, even on Sky HD), I pay a £10 a month premium, as well as paying over-the-odds for being an early adopter (HD box £300, installation etc.) So, Sky are not doing the HD stuff out of the goodness of their hearts.

Compare this to the BBC HD output, and you will see that the BBC are actually commissioning much more real HD content than Sky. And the BBC have developed an HD delivery platform in FreeSat (and also HD FreeView), which other people can build the kit for (Sky and Virgin do not actually *make* their kit, it is subcontracted and then branded)

The real HD benefits on Sky HD appear to be for Sport (which I do not want), Movies (not Sky produced), and the HD documentary channels (a good part of which actually show content part financed by the BBC). I am actually thinking of DROPPING the HD subscription, although the number of Sky channels is improving at the moment.

My Sky subscription currently costs me £576 per year, which actually produces about 8 hours a week (estimate) of new Sky material, and the rest is access to many other channels not produced by Sky (much carrying BBC material - look who owns the UK* channels). My, the BBC license fee actually looks really good value for money, especially now that FreeSat is available as well as FreeView.

The reason Sky want the BBC shutdown is so that they will have a near-monopoly of TV delivery (also the reason why they are so antagonistic towards Virgin buying into ITV) so that any content worth watching has to be paid for, and to BskyB. It's all down to the money and profit.

I agree that the license fee is effectively a tax on owning TV receiving equipment, but why not just think of it as a subscription to whichever part of the BBC you use. It's still good value for money, even if you only use the radio, or news, or the FreeSat or FreeView delivery platform.

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@Peter

Im glad at least you picked up on the fact that the Beeb want this money to enable them to develope HD content/new tech etc.... seems most others didn't and just wanted to rant about the license. Shame really.

And yes, your right, a good proportion of Sky's HD is upscaled ... can't argue with that. However, they were still doing HD (proper) waaaay before the Beeb thats using our license fee to develope new (actually by the time they get to it "standard") tech. Sky, being run like a proper company is pushing the boundaries and creating software/hardware and programing that people didn't know they needed - until they get it. The beeb on the other hand is being run like any other goverment/x-goverment company and taking forever to do anything and is incredibly inefficient with its money and time.

Btw: I have 2 HD boxes on Multi-room and if i remember right my monthly is about £80ish. I guess, can be called a Sky Fanboi.

But if people want to rant about the license then fair enough, so will I. I will happily pay to subscribe to any channels I want to watch. And that includes the Beeb *IF* I want to use them BUT it is no longer a license is it? Your being FORCED to buy it even if you don't want the Beeb.

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@Anonymous nationalist

"That's the typical response from the English - because the majority of the country is English we should have to put up with the parochial shit that's produced for the BBC-loving masses, not complain and just lump it."

If you were aware of anything, you'd know that the Beeb has just built/is just building major television centres in both Glasgow and Manchester to avoid the London centric vision of the BBC - it's not just English centric, most people outside the south east would say it's too London centric.

"What has language got to do with relevance of programming?"

I'm not sure, but as you now have a dedicated Gaelic TV station maybe you could ask there, or over at Coinneach Maclomhair.

"ALL the radio channels are completely English-biased with the exception of Radio Scotland which sucks anyway."

Why don't you ask Coinneach Maclomhair about that one?

"When the Scottish schools are on holiday do we get special programming like the English do when their schools are on holiday? No"

When the UK schools that are on holiday out of sequence with the rest (this is a lot of schools) do they get special programmes? No. It's not just a Scottish thing.

"When the exam results come out in Scotland do we get help lines set up on the national services like when the English results come out? No!"

Have you checked out www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/bitesize ?

"So don't try to lecture me about the value of the English Broadcasting Company and parochialism."

Fair enough, but don't try to make grubby nationalistic points when you are wrong.

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Make the beeb subscription only.

If I don't want Sky I don't buy Sky.

If I don't want to pay-per-view for something I don't.

If I don't want the BBC I am forced to pay and get it anyway.

If as everyone says it is so damned good then it would surely thrive by subscription only.

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Stop

Pot Kettle, Kettle Pot

So the EU, that centre of good practice, honesty, democracy, openness and stellar book keeping are going to investigate an organisation who's reputation worldwide, while having taken a few knocks recently, is still up there as being a straight and fair reporter of world events. I am told that there are still places that a gun or any other form of ID will get you shot or worse, but a BBC sign will get you the truth and a continued pulse. This is valuable to all of us and to be frank, 150 quid is not a great deal to pay. Try getting any other TV system for that.

Read my lips .. LEAVE THE BEEB ALONE !!

PS I was being sarcastic about the EU in case you hadn't worked it out.

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@Fraser

I'm not wrong - you just proved my point - it IS a Scottish thing and it's not catered for by the English Broadcasting Corporation.

I don't get the Gaelic language channels and wouldn't want them anyway.

My point is - I HAVE to pay this TV tax - I don't watch or listen to any BBC channels as they are so English-oriented so I'm subsidising those in the South again.

I don't give a rats-ass where the centres are situated as the output is entirely Home-counties biased.

With regards to the Exam results - I have to put up with the exam helpline crap when the English receive theirs but they don't when the Scots are the recipients. So where's the unilateral coverage there? Again - not wrong.

And what's grubby about nationalism? You scared of it? Until recently I was against but I'm coming to believe more and more that we'd be much better off without having to bail out England all the time. Time to rebuild Hadrians wall I think

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BBC

The BBC is the best tax I pay by a mile. Value for money wise. Its not just the TV, its the radio , website and other bits n bobs they do. Not to mention their support of free to air tv. Freeview / Freesat.

Dont like it - move to another country. Im serious, this is as British as anything can get. I've never lived without the BBC. Its been here since I was born and will be here long after I am dead.

Remember , Murdoch wont be happy until sky are the only ones with a TV service. And although it wont be a tax in the normal sense, there will be no other providers so your out of luck. They can then raise their prices as they want. At least the BBC have to go through this and that and the other to raise tax.

@Fraiser - your subsidising no-one. Just the cost of sending programmes into the far north of Scotland probably costs more than the TV revenue obtained. Your three

Scotland is not as big as you think. 5m people vs 53m. We will have the gas fields and you can have your wall back.

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sarcasm!

I was being sarcastic concerning the reference to speaking english!

As opposed to being parochial, well I have actually lived outside of blightly (lived in the USA and now France) for the last 10 years and being half english, half scottish. I just wanted to allude to the negativity that often is directed from the north of the border without recognising any strengths. The BBC is a great brand because of its inclusion of the different regions. You may not think that but try looking outside of the UK for a change and try to appreciate what the UK does offer in exchange. Of course the BBC is going to have more content for the south because of the number of people. Don't you think that people from small regions elsewhere in world not get annoyed when they are constantly being told of what is going on in Paris or NY etc. etc.

We shouldn't accept everything as great but don't destroy what does work as opposed to what doesn't.

brit abroad

jc

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@paul

I was argueing that the BBC do a lot for Scotland, and that AC was making a few cheap points to try to justify abandoning the licence fee. As it happens I am pro-union, which I think has benefit all of its members since its inception. If the union does split, make no mistake that the BBC will be one of the first casualties, as you mention, it is more expensive per capita to run TV in scotland, when Alex Salmond demanded a separate BBC channel for Scotland, made by Scots in Scotland, the BBC reckoned that it would require something like a £500 (a guestimate, I can't remember exactly) licence fee.

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jon
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Archaic system

The manner in which the TV tax is collected is archaic, massively inefficient and inherently regressive. Rather than spending hundreds of millions of pounds every year hassling the population with threatening letters, and other aggressive tactics, why not just add a new line item onto income tax? It could be added as a flat fee, as it is now, or as a tiny percentage. Either way, the cost savings in collecting the tax would likely be north of 90% of the current cost and because noone would notice it, you'd avoid a lot of the entrenched opposition that the BBC now enjoys. Anyone without a TV, should be treated as an exception, and could apply for a rebate.

You could then reduce the amount of the tax while increasing the amount available to public broadcasters - yes, channel 4 should get some of the gravy too.

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Alert

re: What public service...

Problem is that the BBC is fucked wherever it goes.

The BBC DID used to do stuff that really worked. They weren't commercial but for that reason, only the BBC would have the balls to do it.

Series like Tomorrows World were hilarious in their failures but tried to make science and technology available (not "fun" or "interesting" but available). Horizon. Excellent series. The sidelined sports were on BBC2 where footie and rugby are commercially viable and shown on all channels. Comedies that wouldn't take elsewhere (Young Ones), drama that wouldn't sell (Dr Who) and all sorts of one-offs that would NOT get airtime (Die Nibelung full operatic production) were available. Hell, anyone here NOT been astounded at The World At War?

However, "The People" complained that the BBC should become "more relevant" and should show stuff that appealed to a larger audience. So one soap became 10 soaps. Science dropped. Drama disappeared. And then you had a BBC that was no better than Sky.

And now that the BBC doesn't have any individuality in the networks (because they were told to be more like the other channels and not be so elitist) YOU come along and say "what public service".

The BBC Were FORCED to change to be mainstream.

A frigging shame.

There's still the occasional gem produced (Band of Brothers, for example) but the crap overwhelms it.

And the huge salaries like JR or TW are a result of trying to show that the BBC is trying to keep public general appeal and not get close down by keeping the names at the BBC.

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@Tim Almond

"Just because it's to your taste, why should other people pay for it?"

Similarly, why is it when something not to my taste is up, I pay for it? I don't LIKE what you like. So can I get a refund from Sky for all those shopping channels, kidsTV and soaps they shove at me?

I still have to pay full whack.

The reason is that there should be a SPECTRUM of content, not just the rush to the bottom that pure mercantilism demands on a subscription service. And that means that a lot more content won't be to YOUR taste, but more will be to MINE. Some to NEITHER of our tastes but to the taste of some others.

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Stop

re: Make the Beeb subscription only

No. Then all that will be shown is the same shite as on all the other channels. Anything that is not for the lowest common denominator will be dropped because providing it would risk alienating the larger (dumber) section. Not because lots of people are dumb necessarily, but that if you have something lowbrow, the intelligent people will get it as will the dumb ones. But if you have something highbrow, the dumb buggers won't like it and that's ALWAYS less than the dumb+smart total. Unless you have negative numbers of dumb people...

The reason why Equinox went from C4 was because it was more expensive than Brookside and had a lot fewer viewers. One reason for De Bono's Thinking Course (or The Great Egg Race, for that matter) to die was this was again "outside the mainstream" so if it were competing with "Home and Away", the LCD would be on ITV or wherever instead of on BBC2.

All Sky needed to do was put something wanted on a competing channel (simpsons/futurama for example) and that would kill the competing product. So each side had to place the LCD compatible stuff at prime time. Else they would lose custom to their rival and therefore lose revenue. And so they all became the same.

Because they had to have a large number of viewers to pay the price for "the most popular" programs which went up because they could be auctioned to the highest bidder.

A fee based channel like BBC don't have to pander to that. Or at least they didn't. And it was then a unique channel and kept the others varied to try and keep the highbrow market, small as it may be, available for them.

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Anonymous Coward

Moaning Scotches

You Scotch moan about the BBC but the fact is that if it wasn't for them paying for your regional output out of English money, all your local broadcasters would end up like Talk 107fm or XFM Scotland. And even both of those were funded from non-Scottish groups.

For years I've heard scots phoning TalkRadio/TalkSport moaning that they have to listen to a predominantly english station and yet the minute they get their own talk station - on FM too - no one tunes in and the owner end up looking for a buyer before simply calling it quits and handing back the licence. The same moaning Scots still kept tuning into TalkSport.

Still, al least now XFM has closed down, the neds all have a 24-hour head banging station to drop their pills to again...

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