Re: Thank you, Brits!
"As to the value--£145.50, depending on what it buys you in terms of programming, that doesn't sound all that steep..."
Except what it buys you has been aired a hundred times before, or has 'celebrities' on it that cost so much, the program itself has no actual production cost because there is no budget left in the BBCs otherwise infinite cash cow.
"...compared to what I would have to pay for, say, a block of sports programming or movie channels on cable or satellite."
Your missing the main point here. If we want any of that stuff, we have to pay the satellite fee IN ADDITION to the licence fee. The licence is paid for the privilege of using a TV, even if we pay for (and only watch) a subscription service, such as Sky. In fact, even if you can conclusively prove that the BBC reception is so bad, you cannot possibly watch BBC channels, you still have to pay the licence fee if you watch ANY live TV. This is what my problem is with the fee, the BBC reap the benefits from not even having to produce decent television programs. In fact, they can reap the benefits from OTHER suppliers providing a better service.
"The main difference is that I don't have to buy them if I don't want them, and the national government doesn't threaten to jail me for not buying them."
So to put it another way, you have the better deal after all.
Paris, because her service is much like the BBC... flakey at best.