As a BBC employee
I agree absolutely, the licence fee is archaic.
However, Andrew criticises the BBC for being elitist - because it doesn't allow those in the lower income bracket to watch the lowest common denominator content that they'd (apparently) prefer. Really, who's being elitist here?
Producing high-brow documentaries and programmes about niche/obscure topics is a bad thing? This is absurd. I'd say it actually doesn't produce enough.
The real problem is that the BBC - aware that people across of all demographics pay the fee - tries to be all things to all people and so is in some ways neither here nor there. It produces a lot of the above but also, let's face it, a lot of mindless drek.
In my* opinion, as long as it remains this way the BBC will always struggle to fully defend itself. The Reithian mantra to 'Inform, educate and entertain' was relevent when there were no alternatives. But we live in a different, on-demand digital world of choice. The commercial sector could and would produce the purely entertainment content. Leave them to it - focus on what they wouldn't produce and the BBC will be in a stronger position to defend a tax that some won't ever want to pay. That doesn't necessarily mean informative and educational content can't be entertaining.
America may produce some excellent programming, but this is by and large in the minority - and then you have to contend with the constant barrage of commercial breaks. The weakness of the comparison made above of these type of adverts to the trailers on the BBC is apparent to anyone who has had to sit through an episode of their favourite show in America, only to be watching adverts immediately following the titles. And don't forget, if it's something like HBO you're also paying for that privilege.
Is this really what you want in Britain - really?
*A lowly, lowly digital native who loves the BBC but thinks it can't stick its head in the sand for many more charter renewals, but who's aware many cleverer people could probably pick his argument apart.