back to article The BBC wants to slap a TAX on EVERYONE in BLIGHTY

The BBC could resurrect Margaret Thatcher's hated Poll Tax as well as turning itself into a technology giant to fend off "colonising" American media outfits, BBC director general Tony Hall has said. In his speech, delivered at London's Broadcasting House to mark his first day as DG, Hall said the BBC has not only embraced the …

  1. Moeluk

    I for one laughed my arse off at this...I love the BBC, and believe it's critical to allow even remotely unbiased media and excellent tv shows to flourish.

    My friends do not share this opinion "why do we pay for the bbc, the license fee should be abolished" so when this was announced I was overjoyed! Beware of what you wish for ladies and gents!

  2. codejunky Silver badge

    @ Moeluk

    And you consider these people friends? I feel sorry for them. You enjoy something that they dont have a use for (presumably) and so they dont want to be forced to pay for something they do not receive, but you would be happy for them to be forced to pay so you can enjoy your brain dead content? Would you be overjoyed to be forced to pay for their choice of entertainment although you have no interest in it, have no use for it and wouldnt part with a penny for it?

    Your friends could do with a better friend

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @ Moeluk

    The friends benefit from the balance the BBC bring to the entire market. Without BBC, we would have dross on every channel. Rather than *almost* every channel as now.

  4. Max Normal

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Why should everybody be forced to pay for the BBC's brand of dross, just because *you* like it?

    Kudos for their brass neck, but the Beeb are being cheeky buggers here - they're always banging on about how loved they are, but are frightened to test their assertion by going subscription.

    It's a scandal that the BBC are the biggest prosecutors of poor people in this country - single mums, etc ending up with a criminal record because they don't have a TV license.

  5. GrumpyMiddleAgedGuy

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Have you watched the BBC lately? It is popular trash. E.g. EastEnders, Strictly come Dancing. Also it is deeply left-wing and biased; a claim its own management has agreed with. And it is unbelievable that 1000s of mostly poor are jailed for not paying for their licence. (Are we living in Victorian times?)

    The sooner it gets privatised the better. A dinosaur.

  6. jason 7

    Things change.

    99% of my viewing is now Prime or Netflix. The £150 for the License fee is just not value for money any more, especially as mentioned if you don't like cookery/Z list celebrities dancing or Gregg Wallace.

    Sorry BBC but you aren't the only game in town now. It's not the 1990's and many of us have moved on.

    We really don't need you anywhere near as much as you think.

    As for the Poll Tax... I actually didn't mind it. When you look at it now and with modern family demographics of two to three generations living at home now... it makes more sense than Council tax.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @ Moeluk

    "It is popular trash. E.g. EastEnders, Strictly come Dancing."

    Two long-running shows.

    "left-wing and biased"

    So what? We should only permit right-wing TV? As it happens, I think the BBC is centrist.

    "And it is unbelievable that 1000s of mostly poor are jailed for not paying for their licence."

    You forget that the license fee isn't mandatory.

    "The sooner it gets privatised the better."

    Spoken like a true Maggie Acolyte. Yes. Let's privatise it and watch it get screwed up just like the railways. And now the NHS. You lot will not be happy until our national infrastructure is in ruins and the assets in the control of your friendly tax-evading elite.

    So much for your "Will no one think of the poor!?" crocodile tears.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Things change.

    "As for the Poll Tax... I actually didn't mind it. When you look at it now and with modern family demographics of two to three generations living at home now... it makes more sense than Council tax."

    Indeed. Reduce the cost per head, up the number of heads. Thing is you still need some kind of property-levy to deal with the rich who own many properties and whose larger properties may consume more services. Although I guess most of those are billed by utilities companies.

  9. Thought About IT

    Left-wing and biased?

    @ GrumpyMiddleAgedGuy: ("it is deeply left-wing and biased")

    The conservative press endlessly recycles the myth that the BBC has a left-wing bias, when one academic study after another has demonstrated that the opposite is the case. What they mean is that it's not as extremely right wing as they are, and they are determined to put that right by dragooning the government into privatising it.

    I'm happy to pay my license fee just so I don't have to pay to watch 5 minutes of advertisements every 10 minutes, like you have to on subscription channels.

  10. Riku

    Re: @ Moeluk

    The BBC "are the biggest prosecutors"?, the last time I checked (about a minute ago), the vast majority of TV Licensing enforcement (a separate company) is done by Capita.

  11. Riku

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Have you watched Fox News lately? Or any TV anywhere else in the world?

    We had TV licenses in NZ when I was a kid and groups like TVNZ's natural History Unit were winning Emmy's. Then we got rid of licensing in favour of a "free" market (dominated by North American broadcasting powerhouses that no local company could ever afford to outspend) and we all went "Hooray, no more evil license fee!" Now people pay subscriptions to foreign companies to watch 24-hour garbage. Of course pay-TV was originally pitched as being "ad-free" - that lasted so well didn't it?

    Whenever I visit NZ, I can no longer bear to watch TV. Britain, please learn from our mistake and please don't repeat it! Yes the Beeb has some issues, but, like a redneck's rifle - FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!

    Oh, and I don't think what was our Natural History unit ever won an Emmy-class award ever again.


  12. Moeluk

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Please, they all have sky..and they all watch match of the day, blue planet, listen to 5 live and God knows what's not that they don't use it..its that they don't understand what an absolute hell hole this country would be like without it...

    I don't want to live in a society run by American style media.

  13. Def Silver badge

    Re: Left-wing and biased?

    I'm happy to pay my license fee just so I don't have to pay to watch 5 minutes of advertisements every 10 minutes, like you have to on subscription channels.

    So maybe the way forward is to ban charging subscribers if you show adverts.

  14. TRT Silver badge

    Re: @ Moeluk

    My other half says she's well loved, but I'm not sure I'd test that out by putting her out for subscription.

    You're confusing quality with popularity.

    I'm on someone's Netflix account (repayment for fixing their IT), and I've got cable.

    I went through the whole of Netflix the other night. Nothing, absolutely nothing on there that I wanted to watch or hadn't already seen. I ended up watching The Avengers (Steed & Mrs Peel, not Iron Man and Hulk) and Question Time. OK, The Avengers was an ITV programme, but the only stuff I actually watch is University Challenge, The News (BBC news), Question Time, Room 101, Sewing Bee, Screen Wipe, Panorama, Horizon, Mastermind, Doctor Who, reruns of ST:TOS/ST:TNG and the odd NCIS or Judge Judy if there's nothing else on. I watch the old ITV serials as well if they're on, Professionals, Sweeney etc.

    Are you starting to get the idea? I watch barely any ITV. Not on principal, it's just because they never produce anything I'd actually watch. It's true that the BBC's quality of output has gone downhill over the years, as they produce more and more dross in a bid to compete in the ratings game, which seems to be the only metric that counts and that people want to count. ITV's quality has dropped off over the years too, but they've also started making more period drama and stuff. Usually tedious but on a par with the BBC in terms of production values. Hopefully I'll be dead and therefore no longer able to watch TV before the "no enforced public funding for the BBC" lobby get their way.

  15. Senshi

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Semantics will get you nowhere.

  16. Senshi

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Spoken like a true anonymous coward.

  17. Graham Triggs

    Re: @ Moeluk

    "Why should everybody be forced to pay for the BBC's brand of dross, just because *you* like it?"

    Why should everybody that wants any kind of TV at all be forced to pay 6 times the current amount of the licence fee, just because you don't like the BBC?

    Because if the licence fee goes - without a secured, commercial and political interest free revenue stream to replace it - then that is exactly what we will end up with. You'll either pay £60 / £70 a month to Sky / Virgin / BT, or have nothing.

  18. P. Lee Silver badge

    Re: @ Moeluk

    >The sooner it gets privatised the better. A dinosaur.

    Why would you privatise it? It'll just be another ITV/C4/C5. We already have at least three of those.

    The BBC's "left-wing" problem is not so much political as philosophical. With both the two major parties staffed by lawyers and shifting to the right, we probably need an organisation which can publicly ask awkward questions and which is not beholden to large commercial interests.

    The whole point of the BBC is to do a wide variety of shows which couldn't be made commercially. It is unlikely to win the ratings game and that's fine.

    Where are the funny shows of yore, like The Good Life? I don't want to "start a conversation" or "start a discussion" from TV shows. It would be nice to have some TV I could occasionally watch with my 12-year-old daughter without awkward smuttiness. Something intellectually teen / adult oriented without being soap-trash, depressing news or sexually-oriented.

    It also fails to makes stuff itself, so it never gets the full rights to anything which means its tied up in DRM knots. That's bad. I'd rather have a lower quantity of output and more refinement and freedom of control.

  19. P. Lee Silver badge

    Re: Things change.

    The poll tax was actually quite a good tax. Easy to understand, easy to pay, not easy to avoid, cheap to collect. It just came at a time when the ruling party had been in power for so long that they had managed to annoy a lot of people.

    All those students who hated Thatcher. Look at the current grant & tuition system and weep.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @ Moeluk

    Not quite true - you can watch youtube.

  21. Roger Houghton

    Re: @ Moeluk

    If you watch the trash (and that's a wholly subjective POV) that's your choice. I only watch (and listen to) quality stuff on the Beeb.

  22. Roger Houghton

    Re: Things change.

    Not that anyone's proposing a poll tax. The idea is to have a property tax (as recently adopted in Germany), i.e. exactly the same as at present but universal rather than tied to ownership of a TV. Result will be a lower licence because it'll be paid by 100% of households.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well put

    The BBC is worth it for the News alone. In the West we have a media dominated by large corporations all trying to drive their own agendas. Look at how the Telegraph reported (or rather didn't!) the whole HSBC debacle. You need a broadcaster who is impartial and not controlled by commercial organizations which the BBC is. What the media reports is very important as it gives us our whole world-view. Why do you think in wars etc, control of the media is a major strategy. The BBC gives us an impartial and well-informed view of the world and also forces the other broadcasters and news reporters to maintain a certain standard.

    The license fee also injects a huge amount of money into the broadcast industry which the the other broadcasters and broadcast manufacturers benefit from. If it went away you would only end up paying more for products (due to higher adverstising costs) and subscriptions.

    And as for the other "I don't use it so I shouldn't pay for it" argument, as mentioned above, that isn't true but we pay for lots of services we don't use. I am hardly every ill, have BUPA and private dental but still pay my NI contributions. Should I complain? Oh, and I earn a good salary, mostly in the 40% bracket, so should I refuse to pay part of my income tax as I end up paying a substantial amount every month to those who do not even work! What about my council tax - I never use buses or libraries, should I be refusing that too?

  24. Steve Foster


    True, but Capita are just agents acting under instruction from the BBC. So ultimately, it is the BBC calling the shots, and prosecuting those who watch TV without a TV licence.

    I think that last time I looked at the figures in the BBC accounts, they were spending somewhere in the order of £140m on licence fee collection (ie that's the amount paid to Capita for carrying out those prosecutions).

    Which means that any other method of funding the BBC that doesn't involve criminalising those who are almost unable to avoid it would automatically benefit the BBC to the tune of £140m pa.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @ Moeluk

    like say the national Theatre / Opera?

  26. strum Silver badge

    Re: @ Moeluk

    >Have you watched the BBC lately?

    Yes. Tell me who else could/would have produced anything as good as Wolf Hall?

  27. cortland

    Re: Things change.

    I don't have to worry about your taxes, but I wonder about a property tax not actually levied on property' I really do.

    And I really miss the BBC on shortwave.

  28. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    No Pasaran

    They are getting enough as it is. No pasaran.

  29. Howverydare

    "universal levy could be put on every household"

    Bite me, BBC. I watch one program on BBC and if I had to pay for it, I'd just watch it later on another channel.

    The sooner we can be rid of the BBC's belief that we should fund them regardless of whether we want them or not, the better.

  30. John Sanders

    Re: "universal levy could be put on every household"

    They are the epitome of cultural Marxism, true defenders of the faith.

    Of course they believe they have the right for us to fund them.

    Silly you, and silly me.

    Fire is not enough...

  31. Roger Houghton

    Re: "universal levy could be put on every household"

    Programme, FFS.

  32. Rabbers

    If you emmigrate

    Do you get to watch the Beeb for free? Just wondering like.

    Joking aside, it's clear that creating british programmes is a cultural thing, so the only thing that galls me is that they call it a TV license.

    In this day and age, if you want people to pay for your content, encrypt it, but don't enforce the notion that it's a license for using a TV or Radio - that is so very much outdated.

    So it's a tax to support britush culture then, not a license to use a TV or Radio device that is capable of being used for so many different things other than consuming the output from the Beeb.

  33. tirk

    Re: If you emmigrate

    Do you get to watch the Beeb for free?

    Some of it. You also get added adverts on some services, and some content geographically blocked. The ability to buy a TV licence for overseas use (or somehow identify yourself as holding a licence, eg when on holiday) is a not infrequent request.

  34. chivo243 Silver badge

    Re: If you emmigrate

    To England? My no, I found a new home just across the channel in the land of clogs, yellow cheese and windmills. I am watching the BBC at this moment. Waiting for Pointless to come on, watching Put your money where your mouth is.

    I can even watch it on my computer via a WebTV offering. My ISP offers a triple play, voice being the third option, which I use.

    I do find the whole concept of a TV license....different, are you hunting them or keeping them as pets??

  35. Roger Houghton

    Re: If you emmigrate

    Licence, FFS.

  36. chivo243 Silver badge

    Re: If you emmigrate

    license works in my spell check... licence does not. We're not from the same part of the world. No need to go all grammar nazi.

  37. NotWorkAdmin

    I like the BEEB

    National treasure. Would like to keep it. Don't mind paying for it either.

    I do not think people who don't want it should have to pay for it though. That's mad.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I like the BEEB

    Until it's all streaming and the non-Beebers can be locked out; they'll just have to suck it up and keep benefiting from the market balance the Beeb provides.

  39. Roger Houghton

    Re: I like the BEEB

    Yes, where will it end? They'll be making the healthy pay for the NHS next.

  40. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Like in the old days?

    If the BBC's going to introduce a poll tax, I'm moving back to Wandsworth.

  41. William Donelson
    Thumb Up

    Before John Birt...

    ... the BBC were seen around the world as the Crown Jewels of British culture. Admired and respected everywhere. Authoritative, independent, literate, creative.

    But Birt's conservative-agenda dismantling of the BBC in the late 1980s was a travesty, from which the BBC never recovered.

    I agree that a strong, vibrant, independent BBC is great for Britain. I love this country (been here since 1985) and greatly admire so much of it's culture and personality.

    To set up a separate tax/fee collection system, beyond what we have now, or to have the central government pay fees from general taxation to the BBC is not the answer. But I do believe that all adults in the UK must pay something, on a per person basis.

    This might be by a screen-tax upon purchase, or a yearly fee (possibly with monthly instalments), or managed by local councils.

    The BBC has the potential to be an even larger part of the rich culture that makes Britian, British, and I would love to see that expanded and strengthened.

  42. Locky

    Charge the ex-pats

    From all the ex-pats I know, one of the few things they miss is (legal) access to BBC content. So create a non-UK iPlayer, charge for a login per day / year / program. Boom, instant revenue, no infrastructure change required.

    Thanks, I'll take my consultancy fee now

  43. Andy Nugent

    Re: Charge the ex-pats

    BBC Worldwide is already the commercial arm of the BBC, for selling & merchandising shows abroad (Sherlock / Dr Who on US TV for example).

    I think there'd be issues with what you're proposing, as you'd be conflicting with those licenses (selling a show to channel ABC in the USA, and also charging people in the USA to view it via iPlayer).

  44. Salts

    Re: Charge the ex-pats

    Ex-pat here, where do I pay?

    If you have ever watched BBC America you would be happy to pay for the real BBC, BBC America is an advertising channel that sometimes shows content. It is often true that you don't appreciate what you have, until you loose it.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Charge the ex-pats

    I'm in Hong Kong. I already pay excessively for BBC World News, BBC Knowledge (a misnomer), and CeeBees. Only CeeBees is watched by the kid. Everything is repeated about 4 or 8 times. Every few minutes you get l-o-n-g adverts for itself, sometimes the same advert back to back.

    If it wasn't for the kid, I'd cancel the subscription.

  46. codejunky Silver badge

    Re: Charge the ex-pats


    "Every few minutes you get l-o-n-g adverts for itself, sometimes the same advert back to back."

    If you read the comments in support of the BBC you would never believe that. Apparently the BBC has no adverts.

  47. AceRimmer

    Poll Tax?

    "universal levy could be put on every household in the country"

    i.e. NOT a poll tax

  48. Les Matthew

    Re: Poll Tax?

    Indeed, makes you laugh when the reg recently advertised for a quality journalist.

    Maybe they should have asked for a sensationalist red top journalist instead.

  49. Thought About IT

    Re: Poll Tax?

    The Reg has the same agenda as every other right wing rag in the country: if it's publicly owned, sell it off to their mates, especially if it's not denying anthropogenic climate change.

  50. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: Poll Tax?

    If you look at the full speech...

    That's some selective quoting in El Reg's story.

    As far as the licence fee is concerned, he's saying it should cover live and catch up TV and as it would practically cover everyone in the country it should be merged with council tax (not a poll tax) like France did.


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