back to article Guardian's Robin Hood plan: Steal from everyone to give to us

The brother-in-law of the Guardian's editor - the paper's investigative reporter David Leigh - has floated an idea to save the newspaper industry. Every broadband subscriber in the country would pay a tax of £2 a month, whether they wanted to or not, with the money shared amongst news organisations according to how many UK …

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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A radical new idea

    I doubt it will catch on, but maybe - just maybe, if The Guardian and all its other "worthy" bedfellows started printing stuff that was interesting, popular, relevant, unbiased and informative then they'd be able to actually pay their way.

    They possibly do produce one or two stories a year (between the lot of them: WMDs, expenses, etc.) that make their existence worthwhile. But not to the extent that they ALL deserve to be propped and subsidised by the whole country. Who do they think they are? the BBC?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Guardian?

      Will that mean we'd be forced to read all that leftie ***t they write?

      I know it's expected reading for the public services, BBC and Civil Service but please..... Most of the population read the Sun and that's because the articles are short enough to be read during toilet breaks.

      1. Gnomalarta
        WTF?

        Re: The Guardian?

        Most of the population do not read the Sun, quite a few do look at the pictures. It's a lads rag. Most of the population do not read a daily newspaper.

        If you think that the Guardian and the BBC are left wing you be rather young.

        1. boltar Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: The Guardian?

          "If you think that the Guardian and the BBC are left wing you be rather young."

          Are you trolling or just genuinely that naive? The Guardian is a well known left wing rag and the reason that they're losing far more circulation compared to other papers is they're increasingly out of touch with the opinions of the country as a whole. Essentially they represent a tiny demographic of well off middle class north london liberal lefties. The BBC does get stick for being left wing, sometimes unfairly , but they do certainly have some left leaning opinions.

          1. Psyx

            Re: The Guardian?

            " The Guardian is a well known left wing rag"

            Errr...what?

            Left Wing means Socialist, to my mind. I don't think they are that way inclined. They seem more Extremist-Liberal. That's a different thing.

            I'd describe my own policies as Liberal, but definitely not Socialist or far-Left.

            And for the record: Even I don't read the Guardian, because most of it seems to have been written by spoiled bastards who have never actually lived in the real world, or travelled more than 200 miles from London.

            Maybe if they stopped writing shite, people would buy their paper.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: The Guardian?

              "Left Wing means Socialist, to my mind. I don't think they are that way inclined. They seem more Extremist-Liberal. That's a different thing."

              Well there's old left , ie socialist , and new left/labour which is the liberal left. The old left is more about workers rights and economic policy , the new left is ... well I'm not quite sure what they're about apart from dismantling the fabric of society and a sneering disregard for popular opinion.

              1. cyborg
                FAIL

                Re: The Guardian?

                You anger at... whatever... appears to be making you unable to form coherent thoughts.

                There are a couple of problems such as:

                1) Why shouldn't I be able to sneer at popular opinion if I want to? Popular opinion says Eastenders and X Factor is worth my time to watch. I disagree.

                2) In the concept of reporting "things that happen" where does "things I wish had happened" come into it?

                Please go away and sit quietly and have a little think about what you're actually trying to say and it might make some sort of sense.

                1. Oninoshiko
                  Stop

                  Re: The Guardian?

                  You anger at... whatever... appears to be making you unable to form coherent thoughts.

                  There are a couple of problems such as:

                  1) Why shouldn't I be able to sneer at popular opinion if I want to? Popular opinion says Eastenders and X Factor is worth my time to watch. I disagree.

                  2) In the concept of reporting "things that happen" where does "things I wish had happened" come into it?

                  Please go away and sit quietly and have a little think about what you're actually trying to say and it might make some sort of sense."

                  You are free to sneer at whatever you want, and while I may (or may not) disagree with said sneering, I have no overt objection to it. So please, sneer away!

                  What I do vehemently object to, is being taxed to pay you to do said sneering. Either find someone who WANTs to pay you to sneer, or get a real job and fund your sneering yourself. In any event, I'd rather not have my options be "pay you for it" or "go to jail"

              2. Psyx
                Pint

                Re: The Guardian?

                "Well there's old left , ie socialist , and new left/labour which is the liberal left. The old left is more about workers rights and economic policy , the new left is ... well I'm not quite sure what they're about apart from dismantling the fabric of society and a sneering disregard for popular opinion."

                What the current Labour policies are has no bearing on what Socialism/Leftism and Liberalism is, no more than changing winds have any influence on Where North and East are. Just because the Labour Party are doing it, it doesn't mean it's Left Wing. It generally means that it's more moderate-Right, these days. You might think New Labour Liberal Left, but the idea of National ID cards and kicking off two wars isn't very Liberal to my mind.

                I believe there's actually a political wordy-thingy about just this kind of thing and the slippage of policies and definitions based on current trends. Buggered if I can remember what it is, though.

                1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: The Guardian?

                  The best definition of the difference between Right-wing and Left-wing politics that I know states that there are two fundamental competing political aims involved in running a society - freedom and equality.

                  These aims compete because, given absolute freedom, a society would soon end up with very unequal balances of wealth, opportunity, etc. But if you want to achieve absolute equality between people you will need to remove most of the freedoms they currently have, to force them to be equal according to some pre-defined set of rules.

                  In reality, of course, few people advocate an extreme of either position. But a right-wing view would hold that, in general, freedom is more important than equality, while a left-wing view would hold the opposite.

                  This is why a typical left wing approach to the issue of failing newspapers suggests maintaining 'equality' of income by enforcing a tax, while a typical right wing approach would be to point out their 'freedom' to develop new business models, and let them fail if they were unwilling to do so...

                  Using this definition, the Guardian is certainly left-wing.

          2. Lutin

            Re: The Guardian?

            "losing far more circulation compared to other papers".

            Not trolling, but where did you get this information? Genuinely interested.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: The Guardian?

              "Not trolling, but where did you get this information? Genuinely interested."

              Ever heard of google?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Guardian?

            The guardian's target audience is, as you state, a small number of north London types, well paid, middle class, middle brow. But not remotely left wing.

            They like the idea of "poor people" even "multiculturalism" as long as they can be viewed, and patronised, at arms length. And doesn't prevent them going on long haul holidays, eating at expensive restaurants etc.

            About as left wing as Clarkson, though unlike him, painfully deceitful about it.

        2. Ted Treen
          WTF?

          @Gnomalarta 09:33

          "If you think that the Guardian and the BBC are left wing you be rather young."

          Not at all, old lad.

          I'm well into my sixties, and still view the Grauniad as Pravda or Isvastia.

          As Mr Orlowski writes, "Leigh doesn't quite see it like that. As far as he's concerned, his work has a higher moral purpose - so any taxation to keep him in work can be justified."

          This smug arrogant conceit, matched with an overwhelming but misplaced sense of entitlement - shared in spades by Ms Toynbee & other Grauniad writers - could well be the reason why its circulation is moving like a lemming at the seaside.

          There are enough taxes spent on twats already, without adding to them.

          1. Psyx
            Stop

            Re: @Gnomalarta 09:33

            "I'm well into my sixties, and still view the Grauniad as Pravda or Isvastia."

            That's not at all the case, though. Just because your own policies are perhaps neither Liberal nor Socialist, it isn't correct to lump both together in one political category of "Lefty-Hippy-shite stuff that I don't like".

            "As Mr Orlowski writes"

            Andrew's views are far from impartial or moderate and I personally find enormously conceited, too. So quoting him isn't going to win me over to anything.

            That said: Fuck funding the Guardian from my pocket. Fuck it in it's whinging arsehole.

            1. Ted Treen
              Angel

              Re: @Payx

              "So quoting him isn't going to win me over to anything."

              I can only quote Mr Rhett Butler - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn". I'm stating my point of view, not preaching to win converts. You disagree? - I am, like the esteemed Mr Mandelson, intensely relaxed about it.

              1. Psyx
                Pint

                Re: @Payx

                "I can only quote Mr Rhett Butler - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn". I'm stating my point of view, not preaching to win converts."

                Oh, quite: If you want to receive your news from a biased viewpoint which merely reinforces your own opinions and seldom causes you consternation, that's totally your own business. As a rabid Liberal I totally respect and support your right to do so. Just as I respect the right of more insipid and 'right on' Liberals to read the crap printed in the Guardian, and for it to exist as an institution *As long as I don't have to pay for it to*.

                It's just that I personally prefer to be fed facts in a fairly neutral way and then I make my own mind up. I like opinion pieces to consist of a small side-bar, clearly labelled, which I can avoid.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: Re: @Payx

                  ".....I like opinion pieces to consist of a small side-bar, clearly labelled......" I thought the whole "The Guardian" label at the top of every page was a pretty good indicator of what needed to be avoided.

                2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
                  Flame

                  Re: @Payx

                  "..It's just that I personally prefer to be fed facts in a fairly neutral way and then I make my own mind up. I like opinion pieces to consist of a small side-bar, clearly labelled, which I can avoid..."

                  Alas, this world was not made for one as simplistic as you..

                  If I want to support the Climate Change hypothesis I can easily marshal one set of facts to 'prove' my opinions. And if I disbelieve in it I can easily find another set of facts that proves the opposite. Both those sets of facts have been provided to me courtesy of the OPINION of the person who created the paper.

                  What you are saying in practice is that you would like to be fed facts with which you agree, and not hear anything else.

                  You will very soon find. if you really want to make up your mind in a 'neutral' way, that you need to read both the facts and opinions you agree with AND the ones you disagree with. Having let both sides make their cases, you are in a position to understand where each are coming from and balance their competing assertions. Since opinions are the things which drive the collection of facts, you really do need to read those so you can see why you are being presented with a particular sub-set of facts.

                  As someone possibly more to the right of the political spectrum than you, who values the freedom to make up my own mind, I find that it is essential that I listen to both sides of an argument. If I just accept one side's 'facts', then I really have no mind of my own and am just repeating someone else's prejudices...

                  1. Psyx
                    Holmes

                    Re: @Payx

                    "Alas, this world was not made for one as simplistic as you."

                    Quite. But that should not stifle my ideals or desires.

                    "What you are saying in practice is that you would like to be fed facts with which you agree, and not hear anything else."

                    That's not what I said, if you care to read it and gain inference from my opinion of news which merely confirms existing opinion or bias. I want facts, and I don't mind my opinions being challenged, so long as the factual content is there to back it up. If I merely want to feel great and have my opinions reinforced, then I'll just cut out the effort of reading and go and have a wank.

                    "You will very soon find. if you really want to make up your mind in a 'neutral' way, that you need to read both the facts and opinions you agree with AND the ones you disagree with... [lecture on how to form rational opinions et al]"

                    Yeah: I know. I inferred that. And I have a hard sciences background.

                    I'm also 40, so there's no real need to patronise me.

                    Taking it a stage further; in my opinion, the best way to form an opinion is to get off the couch and experience the sharp-end for oneself, instead of making judgements from the sofa. Doing so will also provide a very stark illustration about how selective, biased and outright dishonest the media is in reporting. I mistrust the media so much mainly because every time major events unfurled around me, what was reporting in the news bore no bearing to the actuality. Thus - to my perception - the media has a 100% fault rate.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Alert

          Re: The Guardian?@ Gnomalarta

          "Most of the population do not read the Sun, quite a few do look at the pictures"

          Which leads on to an interesting point, that grumble browsing is a very popular online pursuit, and as far as I can see several peta-tissues* of bongo are free. I know many of these sites have subscription offers, but I can't really see anyone needing to subscribe, so what's the real funding model there? Could the curious economics of the dark side be the saviour of the Graun?

          * The SI unit for That Sort of Content

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Psyx
        Stop

        Re: The Guardian?

        "Will that mean we'd be forced to read all that leftie ***t they write?"

        Of course not. Don't be so absurdly reactionary.

        And I wouldn't even call the Guardian 'leftie': It's Liberal taken to absurd extremes, which makes most Liberals want to fire-bomb the building.

        Most of the population read the Sun because it has a reading age of 7 and cuts past bothering to report news and instead simply tells readers what to think.... normally about fallballers and tits.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Re: The Guardian?

          ".....And I wouldn't even call the Guardian 'leftie'...." Not REAL "worked-twenty-hours-down-pit" left, but "educated-and-pretending-to-be-caring-out-of-a-sense-of-moral-superiority" lefties. My old man used to refer to them as they type that have the mental equipment and opportuniy but prefer not to put it to a proper use. To paraphase a leftie luvvie that probably would pay the £2/month for the Guardian, George Bernard Shaw, those that can do, those that can't teach, and those that can't teach go into journalism or politics. Now, if the Guardian had some writers - maybe even just one - of the calibre of Mr Shaw then they wouldn't be in the pile of brown stuff they are in now. After all, I don't personally agree with half of Mr Shaw's politics, but he always delivered them in a manner that was both entertaining and insightful.

          ".....normally about fallballers and tits." You may think that unfortunate, but those are evidently the popular areas where people are still willing to pay for a paper. And before you get too high on your moral hobbyhorse, please do note that 90% of advertising, especially for "lifestyle" products such as perfume, cars, holidays, etc, are based on sex. Sex sells, even if it's in black-and-white and sold in high-brow circles as "art".

          1. Psyx
            Holmes

            Re: The Guardian?

            "Now, if the Guardian had some writers - maybe even just one - of the calibre of Mr Shaw"

            The Guardian does do some amazing pieces of investigative journalism. I'm thinking of the Trafigura incident, and the oil company's attempts to mute them, in particular. These pieces are great journalism, and exactly the kind of thing that our media SHOULD be uncovering.

            However, they tend to be vastly outnumbered by impractical rhetoric and opinion pieces with no bearing in reality. As a NEWSpaper, the Guardian is better than most. As a mouthpiece of opinion... it's whingy opinions suck balls and are totally divorced from the reality as experienced by most of the world's population.

            I just can't bear to look at it any more.

            "'educated-and-pretending-to-be-caring-out-of-a-sense-of-moral-superiority' lefties"

            Again; it's more Liberal than Leftist. It pains me to admit any kind of personal tie to the Guardian, but their politics are much more Liberal than Socialist. Just very extreme Liberal.

            "You may think that unfortunate, but those are evidently the popular areas where people are still willing to pay for a paper."

            Yes: I do consider it unfortunate that much of the population gives far more of a shit about what colour shirt a ignorant, racist toss-pot will be wearing to kick a ball next year than actual real-world affairs. That said: Perhaps it's better that people *don't* get their news from lying butt-weasel tabloids which tell people what to think instead of telling them the truth and letting them decide.

            I'm aware that sex sells, thanks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A radical new idea

      To be fair, most broadband users don't pay for the information/news content they use. That's an acceptable position whilst those who create that content choose to give it away or sell at a loss, but ultimately the freetards (self included) are depending upon the unrewarded efforts of others, and that's not a long term solution. Personally I like the idea of having largely "free" access to a wide range of content, so I'm not in favour of site specific paywalls - that's going to restrict my world view to the handful of sites I'd regularly use, rather than allowing me wider access.

      Perhaps a solution is a universal pay per view system run by the ISPs that is opt in for both web users and for the content providers. So any organisation or individual can opt in to the (clearly flagged) pay system, or choose to remain outside it (eg genuinely free, or advert supported). However, the Guardian claims around 230m unique UK page views per month, say 2.8bn per year. It wants around £100m a year, so that's around 4 pence per page view that they want. That seems a bit steep to me - they used to flog the entire newspaper for a quid or so (what if they chucked away the print version - would that reduce the costs?).

      I know they aren't proposing a pay per view system, but the maths still doesn't seem consistent with their proposed £2 a month levy, since that would only cover reading about 1.4 articles per day out of the Grauniad alone leaving nothing for other online services, when you work the numbers back to what they want (the £100m) and what they give (2.8 billion page views per year). Maybe their maths is as good as their type checking?

      £2 a month seems acceptable to me, but that is presumably for free to web general news content only, excluding the BBC whilst it has the licence fee. Maybe that's the answer - use the licence fee to support all large scale bona fide UK based, UK employing news organisations, cap the amount to stop it inflating, and draconian claw back/fines for any cross subsidy to non-UK services, and similarly draconian fines for click fraud and related attempts to falsify readership data. Then change the licence fee to include any UK TV or satellite users and all UK broadband users. Most of us have TV's anyway, so whilst there would be some exceptionally vociferous whining from the few exceptions, the actual incidence of the licence fee would be largely unchanged, and there's a collection mechanism already in place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ledswinger

        Why are you agreeing to pay the companies you are not getting media with? Why not pay them direct?

        They are not giving it away for free, they advertise. If they don't wish to give it away for free then don't. Sell it.

        If they setup a website for free, don't call us "freetards" for viewing it. They're the "drug pushers" giving away the free samples.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ledswinger@ AC 09:53

          "Why are you agreeing to pay the companies you are not getting media with?"

          The revenue would be apportioned according to page views both in the graun's scheme, and in either of my proposals, so in net terms the errors would be of minimal value on a total bill of £2 a month. Also, whilst I do have a favoured news site, free to web at the moment, I do like occaisionally to read other sites, even if their editorial stance doesn't accord with my fairly strongly held views. You should try it.

          "Why not pay them direct?"

          Re-read my post, particularly the bit about not wanting site specific paywalls because that limits my wider choice. And most people are with me, that they do want access, but don't want to use an expensive paywall solution - look at how the Times lost 90% of its online readers after putting a paywall in. Many of those might still baulk at £2 a month for all UK news, I accept, many probably wouldn't. My suggestion of a universal ISP operated page view charging system would enable them to opt out.

          "They are not giving it away for free, they advertise."

          Err, you don't pay, it is free. Look up "free" in a dictionary. ITV is free, BBC isn't. Both have funding mechanisms, but I can avoid that for ITV if I so wish.

          "If they don't wish to give it away for free then don't. Sell it."

          Back to where I started, which is that custom paywalls restrict information flows that I'd like access to, and that the reduced viewing puts up the cost per user for those who choose to pay. You might say "good", but there is evidently insufficient money coming through paywalls to fund good journalism, and the free model you seem to support is not sustainable. I don't like the Graun much, but I think it is important that we have a range of views represented in the media, and they do occaisionally do some very good stuff. Maybe you think big media is dead, in which case good luck finding out all the top stories, well presented and written, updated regularly on Farcebook by amateurs. In terms of what news you get on the cheap, look at the BBC. Total news costs around £70m a year, and for what? No worthwhile investigative journalism since they had Blair and Campbell over their Hans Christian Andersen "Iraqi WMD dossier". ITN and Sky News aren't much better either.

          "If they setup a website for free, don't call us "freetards" for viewing it. "

          What's wrong with being a freetard? We're not paying El Reg for this. But you've got to live with the consequences of not paying for your content. Like that purely advert funded news gathering will gravitate towards what the advertisers want to be read. If you want the biggest advertisers, say Nestle. P&G or Unilever censoring your press so that you don't have to pay at point of use, then fair enough, but that's what'll happen. Look at how PC mags would usually skirt round any critcism of their biggest advertisers (back in the day, course), or how women's fashion mags never describe Laboratoire Ripoffeeay as overpriced shite that works no better than Boots number seven.

          "They're the "drug pushers" giving away the free samples"

          That makes the BBC the methadone of news, which I suppose is a valuable and accurate insight.

          1. Lord Voldemortgage

            Re: @Ledswinger

            "ITV is free, BBC isn't. Both have funding mechanisms, but I can avoid that for ITV if I so wish."

            I realise this is something of a digression but this statement really is not true.

            The cost of the advertising is paid by the consumer of the advertised item or service.

            So even if you eschew television altogether (and stop paying the licence fee) you'd still be funding ITV assuming you drive a car, shop in a supermarket, heat your home with gas or main electricity etc

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: @Ledswinger

              Although if you go into the supermarket and explain that you don't watch ITV they will knock 2p off a mars bar.

      2. Aldous
        FAIL

        Re: A radical new idea

        strange that i get my news from the beeb which i pay for, IT side from reg and others which are ad supported so pay with my eye balls. why should everyone pay for an industry that won't modernize? should there be (another) tax on petrol to pay for horse and buggy operators? what about a big tax on TV to make up for the loss of radio audience?

        boo hoo your golden days are behind you, do you think IBM would still be in business if they demanded everyone making these new fangled electronic computers pay them for continuing to manufacture mechanical ones? modernise or die off

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: A radical new idea

        I've just listened to the Media Show on Radio 4 (the other story covered was Keith Allen on drugs on Channel 4, shock horror) and the Guardian spokesman didn't make a convincing case, with large gaps in their plan just glossed over- such as, who decides who gets the cash?

        Maybe a universal micro-payments scheme could work. But instead of buying the 'album', might people just buy the 'single'? I.e pay 50p a month to read the Steve Bell cartoon, and not bother with the rest of the newspaper.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: A radical new idea

          "pay 50p a month to read the Steve Bell cartoon, and not bother with the rest of the newspaper."

          Which might just encourage Mr Bell to branch off into his own website where he can get all of that 50p, instead of 0.5p of it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A radical new idea@Dave 126

          "Maybe a universal micro-payments scheme could work. But instead of buying the 'album', might people just buy the 'single'? I.e pay 50p a month to read the Steve Bell cartoon, and not bother with the rest of the newspaper."

          They certainly would buy the single, which is the whole magic of it. And that 50p the Graun get is still ten shillings that otherwise they didn't have. Makes all the content PAYG, so if few people really want to read the Graun opinionistas output (as most of us commentards believe), then they'll soon find themselves being offered less money or even shown the door. Likewise I'd guess that the Scum's columnists will find that they are out of a job in days. And since, as I conceive it, the scheme would be pay per page view, you wouldn't pay a 50p per month sub for Steve Bell, you would pay however much per page view that includes Steve Bell, and thus don't pay for those days you don't view.

          There's a dilemma for relatively higher cost reporting. Take personal finance coverage, which probably gets far fewer views than news, sport or tattle. But that's for the providers to resolve - reduce the cost, split articles across pages to increase the revenue, better and more targeted advertising as a supplement to the page view income, etc

          Where this might lead, who knows? Although the cost per page might be low enough that it won't have any impact on reading patterns, the publishers will have the hard facts about how much revenue they make per page or article and that will certainly lead to changes. At the moment they probably are in denial about the fact that certain columnists are read by nobodyat all.

          So I guess few people will want to pay for detailed political coverage, unless there's some scandal of some sort, and in the medium term that might lead to a democratic issue. A welcome benefit of a more discriminating (or simply better understood) readership would be that the useless padding bits of publications would bite the dust - like the FT's sickmaking "How to spend it" supplements, the Graun and Torygraph's fashion sections, the property sections of most papers, and so forth. Sport fans could have their poison, and I could avoid it.

          I think, on the basis of the debate thus far, that the Graun £2 levy is indeed something that suits them not us. A standard PPV solution would certainly give them and others an income stream, so nobody who doesn't want to pay has to use it (freetards rejoice!), anybody who does want to read stuff can do, and publishers who wish to remain free to web could stay that way. But, like the music industry, I suspect the news media will be busy trying to preserve the old world, rather than to adapt to the new.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A radical new idea

        "To be fair, most broadband users don't pay for the information/news content they use."

        Yes they do. That's why there's advertising on the web pages they use.

        Traditionally a newspaper was 100% paid from advertising revenue before the presses even started turning and the cover price was set because people value something they paid for more than something they get for free.

        The fix for losing money is to raise the cover price or get more advertising (or both), not to be bailed out by the taxpayer because they're still making buggy whips in a world of automobiles.

  2. Justice
    FAIL

    Uh... NO!

    I already object to being forced to pay a fee to the BBC for their unmitigated tripe.

    (Doctor Who excluded, of course)

    I'll be damned if I'm paying an enforced tax to keep papers like the Sun and Mail afloat.

    David Leigh... kiss my shiny metal ass!!!

    1. Miek
      Trollface

      Re: Uh... NO!

      "(Doctor Who excluded, of course)" -- Not been watching the latest series then, it's terrible.

      1. NogginTheNog

        Re: Uh... NO!

        On the contrary sir, whilst last week's resorted to the tired old "sonic screwdriver'll fix this!" ending, so far this season has been a BIG improvement on the last!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uh... NO!

      If I thought it would kill the Grauniad, I'd even be prepared to cancel my broadband for 6 months...

    3. S4qFBxkFFg
      Happy

      Re: Uh... NO!

      Another use for some copypasta:

      It may or may not be a tax, but the important thing is that it's voluntary.

      I have no TV, and no licence (TVL) either (although neither of those facts necessarily implies the other).

      Some (possibly) interesting facts:

      Most of what is on broadcast TV is available on iplayer, or similar services.

      Having a TV without a TVL is perfectly legal.

      Only watching or recording TV programmes as they are being broadcast requires a TVL.

      Letters demanding purchase of a TVL are full of descriptions of fines, court appearances and make much use of the words "could", "may", "up to", and "possibly"; but very rarely words such as "will", "at least", and "certainly".

      The "enforcers" who go door-to-door to addresses without a TVL have no right to force entry to buildings - if they are told to go away, they should. (A better response is probably "No thank you, I don't need one." or something similar.)

      Their questions have no legal requirement to be answered.

      They receive commission on every TVL they sell.

      To actually enter a building without the consent of its owners or residents they need to have the police with them.

      They cannot do this without evidence that TV is being watched or recorded as it is being broadcast at that address. This evidence could be as trivial as something stupid admitted by one of the occupants in response to insistent questioning.

      In summary, you probably don't need to pay for a TV Licence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Uh... NO!

        Do you watch anything on iplayer or other similar online TV systems ?

        If so you need a TV license

        1. S4qFBxkFFg
          Boffin

          Re: Uh... NO!

          Only if it's live.

        2. kraz
          Headmaster

          Re: Uh... NO!

          You do not need a TV license to watch catch up programmes on the BBC I-player. From the BBC website:

          "You do not need a television licence to catch-up on television programmes in BBC iPlayer, only when you watch or record at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is being broadcast or otherwise distributed to the public. In BBC iPlayer, this is through the Watch Live simulcast option.

          Anyone in the UK watching or recording television as it's being broadcast or simulcast on any device - including mobiles, laptops and PCs - must, by law, be covered by a valid TV licence."

          So no live Olympics without a TV license but you can still get all the Doctor Who once it's up.

        3. dak
          FAIL

          Re: Uh... NO!

          No you don't, as long as you don't watch or record live transmissions.

          Viewing recorded material is free from any licensing.

  3. jake Silver badge

    ::sighs::

    The old guard(ian) just don't get it.

    Bottom line: My screen, my rules. Adverts don't work as a source of income in this medium, at least over the long-haul.

    If you have content that nobody else does[1], I'll purchase a subscription to your "magazine".

    [1] Hint: You don't. Nobody does.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ::sighs::

      Adverts do work, the problem is most adverts are for nothing I would buy, and that IS when I don't clean cookies...

    2. Chris Miller

      Unique content

      The news is (mostly) copy/pasted from Reuters, AFP, etc (and ElReg from time to time) - you may as well go there direct if that's what you want. But there is still investigative journalism, which (if you want it) needs to be paid for somehow, and unique content in the form of editorial comment, which is why (some) people pay for the Grauniad rather than the Times/Sun/Mail.

      The real purpose of the proposed levy is to allow GMG to keep Rusbridger, Polly Twaddle, Old Uncle Moonbat and all in fine wines and Tuscan villas, while churning out hypocritical why-oh-why pieces about the rich and tax evaders. Personally, I'd be happy to pay £2 a month never to hear from them again.

    3. Psyx

      Re: ::sighs::

      "Adverts don't work as a source of income in this medium, at least over the long-haul."

      Works just fine for the Daily Fail.

      They figured out that they can get just as many page views by posting extremist bile trolling as they can by encouraging a loyal readership.

    4. Lord Voldemortgage

      Re: ::sighs::

      "If you have content that nobody else does[1], I'll purchase a subscription to your "magazine".

      [1] Hint: You don't. Nobody does."

      Well, they do, of course. I imagine you don't have the opportunity to read that newspaper so you ignorance is understandable.

      Some of it is even worse reading.

      So I think you are right (by accident) in this case - the money is there and the will to spend is there but there's no desire to fund the existence of the institution as a whole.

      I buy a weekend newspaper and enough parts of it are of value to me that I consider the price of the whole worth paying.

      However I would much prefer a tailored version that omitted the majority of the newspaper that does not get read.

      Online systems allow this, of course, and if there was a suitable micropayment process would fund those parts of the organisation that enough people considered worth reading.

      The Reg makes a perfectly valid point that it deserves funding at least as much as any other commercial information / opinion provider and if there was some way of funding this fairly I'd be all for it.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Bootnote

    "...The Reg, then, will surely be in line for a buckshee £20m-odd every year under Mr Leigh's plan"

    Seems reasonable, but you are missing a point.

    While most of the attraction to this site is down to the quality of The Reg's writers, a certain proportion is down to the intelligence, wit and humour of the commentards.

    We therefore deserve a cut (calculated by some suitable formula).

    I wouldn't expect much for my efforts, but it's the principle of the thing.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: JustaKOS

      Comment of the week.

      C.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Bootnote

      The trouble is: the diamond-to-shite ratio favours shite as it is. And we all know that insightful comments don't get the up-votes that can be achieved by Microsoft bashing. (I'll cop to writing shite and laying in to Microsoft for cheap up votes; the insightful comments belong to others.) Paying commentards would make things much, much worse, as everybody pitched in to get a share of the loot.

      Of course, on the upside, we would get a rebate for participating. I might even be tempted to comment on the Daily Mail.

      (For the first time in my life I want the El Reg tombstone icon.)

    3. Tim Parker

      Re: Bootnote

      "I wouldn't expect much for my efforts, but it's the principle of the thing."

      Perhaps they could pay in hugs and beer ?... seems very popular at the moment...

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: hugs and beer

        Only if they bring the moderatrix back.

    4. theblackhand

      Re: Bootnote

      Why do you think El Reg implemented the voting system? When the revolution comes, your up votes will determine your share of the fortune.

      If only we could figure out how to get those with a negative rating to pay back what they owe...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bootnote

        As long as ElReg stays substantially as it is I'll happily forgo my share and let them keep the loot.

        In truth I'm happy with the virtual rewards - upvotes, downvotes (cos it's nice not to be ignored), pints and hugs. Oh and the totally unexpected accolade of 'Comment of the Week' (thanks diodesign).

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge
        Alert

        An ode to down votes

        Down-votes actually engender more conversation (and hence posts/views) than up-votes. Up-votes avoid boring "+1" or "Me too" posts, but down-votes often come with a vitriolic response explaining precisely how and why you are completely stupid - AND SO IT BEGINS.

        Most discussions about the iphone would normally peter out after 2 or 3 posts, but someone is guaranteed to post something like "lol Samsung smokes cock", which magically grants life to the thread. Down-votes are like deep sea black smokers, bringing life into a desolate landscape.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: An ode to down votes

          In recognition of your excellent contribution I tried to upvote AND downvote you. El Reg's system seems to have countermanded the upvote I gave you first, which is a pity, but I'm sure you'll appreciate both the intention on my part, and the downvote.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: An ode to down votes

            I've up voted your down vote :)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bootnote

      An interesting analysis:

      http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/the-economics-of-blogging-and-the-huffington-post/

      So what's the numbers for El Reg? At a guess, our share is about 2p a post, or thereabouts.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: Bootnote

        "So what's the numbers for El Reg?"

        Our latest audit: http://www.abc.org.uk/Certificates/17591287.pdf We're due another in November.

        C.

  6. bill 36
    Happy

    That seems reasonable

    Then i don't have to pay anything!! And its always been that way for the "red button" and all the BBC channels.

    All of you licence payers are paying for me. Thank You!

    On a serious note, isn't this the same fraud that the Central banks are pulling at the moment, printing money to prop up basket cases ( the banks) while we pay for it?

  7. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    WTF?

    I stopped buying the Guardian because their "lifestyle" seems to be 16 year olds modelling jeans that cost £400.

    WTF has that got to do with regular people?

  8. Miek
    Linux

    For just £2 a month you could save the ... personally I can think of better things to do with £2

  9. billse10
    Stop

    it's not even end of year yet ...

    .. and already we have a strong contender for "most phenomenally stupid idea of 2012" (and that's against a background of party conference season!)

  10. jm83

    Race to the Bottom

    I dont know what the solution is, but if thorough journalism dies out then we will all be the worse off. Left to pick over blogs about what someone thinks about something someone else said.

    1. dogged
      Meh

      Re: Race to the Bottom

      To be fair, about 90% of political and current affairs reportage is already exactly this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Race to the Bottom

      where have you been for the last 5 years? Most "journo's" these days just recycle shite they read on a blog or twitter or facebook or in a press release..or....or..

      1. Psyx
        Pint

        Re: Race to the Bottom

        "where have you been for the last 5 years? Most "journo's" these days just recycle shite they read on a blog or twitter or facebook or in a press release..or....or.."

        Ironically - and for all its many, many faults - The Guardian is one of the few papers that still digs up and *actual* story once in a while.

    3. boltar Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Race to the Bottom

      "if thorough journalism dies out then we will all be the worse off."

      Sure, but we're not talking about journalism here, we're talking about The Guardian. When was the last time they ever did any investigative journalism of merit? Their entire modus operandi is little more than being a propaganda outlet for liberal left opinion based on the opinion of other liberal lefties. The only time a guardian journalist speaks to an ordinary man in the street is when the Ocado delivery man has rung the doorbell.

      1. dogged
        WTF?

        Re: Race to the Bottom

        @boltar :- How about the phone-hacking scandal? Without the Graun, the NotW would still be up to its dirty tricks, Murdoch would own Sky outright and Jeremy Cunt would have been promoted.

        They do investigate. It's rare, but they do. If you follow the Paul Foot Prize coverage in Private Eye, you'll note that the Grauniad are nominated every year. The Telegraph is nominated most years, too. The Daily Mail has never been nominated yet.

      2. Paul Berry
        WTF?

        Re: Race to the Bottom

        > When was the last time they ever did any investigative journalism of merit?

        You either have a very short or selective memory: Nick Davies in The Guardian broke the details on the bubbling-under phone hacking scandal that eventually brought down a certain newspaper. I'm in no way in favour of the proposed funding model but I'd call that a coup for investigative journalism if ever there was one.

        1. Spleen

          Re: Race to the Bottom

          "You either have a very short or selective memory: Nick Davies in The Guardian broke the details on the bubbling-under phone hacking scandal that eventually brought down a certain newspaper."

          And? One, everyone who reads Private Eye knew that phone-hacking was standard practice in UK newspapers already. We can thank Nick Davies for the juicy details which got everyone all outraged - dead schoolgirls, JK Rowling, etc - but not for revealing the actual practice, which was already public knowledge for anyone who bothered to take an interest.

          Two, it was all very fascinating but had no significant effect. Watergate didn't inspire a cliché because it turned out that a politician lied, it was significant because it forced the President's resignation and altered the course of history. So what did Phonegate achieve? News International got to slim down its workforce early and bring forward the long-planned merger of the NotW with the Sun. Murdoch senior and junior had to go and kow-tow to the local parasites. We got to watch Mrs Murdoch karate-kick a pie-thrower in the face. Who cares? Journalists bribing plod for info was the only element of real public interest, but it's plod - nothing has been and nothing will be done, just like the current Hillsborough and Rotheram scandals.

          It provided good fodder for newspapers and water-cooler chat, but there was no significant public benefit - and therefore no justification for an ongoing subsidy.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As much as I would like the Guardian to stand on it's own two feet (i.e. fail), I think you underestimate the legal single-mindedness of the Scott Trust.

    It's financially dealings are to one end only. according to it's charter: "To secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner."

    The Trust will bleed it's businesses dry before the Guardian is allowed to expire, or Alan Rusbridger's salary is allowed to drop below £500,000 a year (minus benefits and bonuses).

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "The Trust will bleed it's businesses dry before the Guardian is allowed to expire,"

      Damn! I like using Autotrader for the odd look at motors, but I suppose I can live without that just to make sure the Liberati lose their daily bible.

      1. dogged

        Re: "The Trust will bleed it's businesses dry before the Guardian is allowed to expire,"

        wait - you're going to stop doing something you like doing in the hope that doing so can stop other people from doing what they like doing, when what they do has no effect on you whatsoever?

        That makes you a wanker.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "The Trust will bleed it's businesses dry before the Guardian is allowed to expire,"

          I agree that not buying Auto Trader any more just to spite Grauniad readers is a bit peevish, but consider this;

          Nestle execs enjoyed making millions selling unnecessary and relatively expensive milk formula to mothers in the developing world. Despite enjoying Nestle products I decided to stop consuming them in the hope that it would stop them from doing what they liked doing, despite their actions having no effect on me whatsoever.

          I guess I'm a wanker then?

          1. dogged

            Re: "The Trust will bleed it's businesses dry before the Guardian is allowed to expire,"

            @AC - Since I did the same, I hope not. But boycotting Autotrader in the hopes that doing so will prevent somebody else from a reading a newspaper is a bit different from boycotting KitKats because the company that makes them also criminally exploits the poor in developing countries.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The charter of the entity known as The Scott Trust Foundation (registered charity number 1027893) does not apply to the entity known as the The Scott Trust Ltd (company number 06706464, formed on 24/09/2008).

      Although 3 of the 5 shareholders* of The Scott Trust Ltd are also trustees of The Scott Trust Foundation.

      * Shareholder information from October 2010, trustee information from today.

  12. Code Monkey
    FAIL

    Just like the (then) newfangled newspapers all chipped in to keep the ailing town crier sector afloat.

    I would rather give up broadband than pay to keep the Heil going. I imagine Heil readers feel similarly about propping up the Graun.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Newspapers are yesterday news - literally.

    Until the mainstream media learns to write the truth without the need to 'sex' it up and gets rid of the celebrity culture they are breeding, I'm not interested and they can go to the wall for all I care. My prime example was the story reported by The Register about the nuclear success story in Japan. If you'd read any of the nationals, you'd think we were facing WW3 style fallout. I don't want glitz, I don't want glamour, I want honest facts reported as unbiased as possible - to which I must thank The Register for the sterling work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was going to downvote this

      but then I realised it must be subtly ironic

      "Honest facts reported as unbiased as possible" the day after any comments criticising the worst excesses of online advertising (which sometimes includes El Reg) had been brutally suppressed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was going to downvote this

        No irony, just my honest opinions.

    2. Psyx
      Stop

      "I want honest facts reported as unbiased as possible"

      Me too, but I think citing Lewis Page's as such is not perhaps a great illustration!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Lewis, for his faults was exactly right in the instances concerned.

        And as has been mentioned elsewhere, writing trollbait is a good way of keeping interest in El Reg up. If I were a cynical man I'd wager that's why he does it.

  14. Ants V

    Royal Mail letters volumes down year on year...

    Maybe Royal Mail should benefit from a levy.

    Bricks and mortar retail are surely overdue a boost also.

    And surely, the real losers are the advertising agencies. As stated, online advertising revenues aren't worth nearly as much, so they are taking a massive hit.

    So maybe a 100% levy on home and business broadband would do it.

    I mean, as Charlie Brooker observed on Twitter, the newspaper industry has been keeping alive the town crier industry for decades. Seems reasonable.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bonkers. I'd scrap the license fee as well and let the BBC swim in the commercial world like everyone else.

  16. Mike Street
    Facepalm

    Guardian Reader - Coming Through

    I read both articles in the Guardian. As Andrew says, both were savaged by its own readership.

    It is not hard to see where cuts could be made - Alan Rusbridger, the editor, gets 400k per year for running an entity that loses 50m a year. Their 'star' columnist, Polly Toynbee, gets >100k for producing practically the same fact-free rant every few days. Various rad fems produce articles about 'Why I Hate Men' and so on. Then there are the complaints about celebs being villified (or not) and the innumerate environment blogs.

    All of these emissions are regularly trashed in the comments, but the Guardian doesn't listen to its own readers. Maybe it should.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Guardian Reader - Coming Through

      Actually, you sound more like a Daily Mail reader carrying out a "let's imagine" exercise about the contents of the Gruiniad- especially the slightly unhinged bit about radical men-hating feminists. Very suspicious indeed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Guardian Reader - Coming Through

        "especially the slightly unhinged bit about radical men-hating feminists. "

        Have you read any of it recently?

        I know it sounds cliched, but that's how a lot of opinion pieces read.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      , the editor, gets 400k per year for running an entity that loses 50m a year.

      it would be funny as fuck is someone took that money from him and gave it to a real man

  17. Trygve
    WTF?

    Dumbest idea in the world....

    Tax everyone in the country and direct the resulting torrent of cash into the pockets of the people who own the Daily Mail/Express/Sun/Mirror so they can buy even more influence. The amount directed towards actual journalism would be a fraction of a rounding error, since what actually determines readership is the amount of gossip, bigot-bait and celebrity skin.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They should go subscription if they can make it pay - then people who want to read their rag can do and if I choose not to buy a newspaper I am not paying for it.

  19. Blitheringeejit
    Pint

    @Pete2 et al

    Interesting, popular, relevant, unbiased and informative - Steve Bell, every time, on the nail. His stuff alone is worth 2 quid a month.

    Beer for Steve!

  20. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    It's easy to be cynical, but if this tax doesn't go ahead, who will pay for the upkeep on Polly's Tuscany villa?

    1. James 36

      Too

      many Dave's nicely done upvote for Dr Suess ref

  21. iGoto

    Horse & Cart...

    In twenty years time I think historians will look at this period and compare it with the advent of railroads and cars and the effect they had on the traditional horse & cart. With every disruptive medium/technology/revolution, there's a 'slushy' period of uncertainty and desperation as the old guard try to merge and adapt their old ways with the new. We are now right in the middle of this current transition phase - it's brutal, it's unfair for some but it's inevitable.

    1. The Serpent

      Re: Horse & Cart...

      I think historians will look back on this time with a certain amount of pity (possibly ridicule, but I'm trying to be positive). A time when humanity could have launched itself to much greater things if it had only cut away a lot of dead, historical or 'we've-always-done-it-that-way' issues, rebooted World Economy version 1 and generally stopped pissing about with inconsequential crap

  22. Risky
    Paris Hilton

    I wonder what the publisher of the Express has to say. He has a number of publications that might well have sustatial online readership............

    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Or the Daily Wail for that matter

      <cite>I wonder what the publisher of the Express has to say.</cite>

      The Daily Mail also gets a lot of visits from folks mocking their OTT articles, so should they get their share of this subsidy?

      Would The Times open up or relax their paywall if they got a slice of this cash?

      It's a pity the Guardian has gone the way it has, for it provided much needed balance during the Tory government years. Yes, I did buy it nearly every day back then, but they lost the plot somewhere in the mid-nineties.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Or the Daily Wail for that matter

        "It's a pity the Guardian has gone the way it has, for it provided much needed balance during the Tory government years"

        So without a Maggie, there can't be a Graun?

        Does it work the other way? I'd put up with (nay, I'd subscribe to) the Graun if that meant we had a prime minister with some common sense, a good bit of spine, and a willingness to stick up for this country.

  23. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Jeez!!!! I don't know....

    Someone put this guy out of his own self interested misery. That, or buy him a book on how 21st century business works, and a cloth with which to clean his face when his head eventually comes out of his arse.

    Newspaper publishing, like religion - is an over saturated and dying industry - in fact I'd go so far as to say that newspapers such as these won't see out the next 10 years in their current format...

    ...and I certainly won't pay to save them.

  24. Gnomalarta
    Holmes

    Trowel, For The Laying Of

    An AC said: "The Trust will bleed it's businesses dry before the Guardian is allowed to expire, or Alan Rusbridger's salary is allowed to drop below £500,000 a year (minus benefits and bonuses)."

    The Guardian said: '"Alan Rusbridger emailed staff at the newspaper to say that his salary in the upcoming 2012-13 financial year will be £395,010, compared with £438,900 in the current financial year.

    His annual pension contribution will be reduced to £75,000, and the total reduction in his salary and pension package will amount to 19% in the next year starting in April."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/feb/09/guardian-editor-takes-pay-cut

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Trowel, For The Laying Of

      ".....his salary in the upcoming 2012-13 financial year will be £395,010..... His annual pension contribution will be reduced to £75,000....." Gosh, how will the poor luvvie survive on that!?!?! He'll barely be able to afford (foreign immigrant) minions to clean his ivory tower!

      Joking aside, I would suggest the best move on the part of the Trust would be to reduce Mr Rushbridger's salary to the London average (about £33k) and then put him on a profits-based commission for the rest. That should focus Mr Rushbridger's mind quite nicely. The resulting bloodbath of immediate cuts may drive the Guardian under or revitalise it, I don't really care, but at least the Guardian would be finally producing some entertainment of note for the rest of us.

  25. Dave 62
    Black Helicopters

    but.. we don't pay for El Reg, directly or via taxation.. however do they sustain themselves??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Don't pay for El Reg?

      I could make an educated guess that some of El Reg's income is from advertising. The companies that advertise have to pay for that from their marketing budget. That budget is funded by you, the punter that reads the ads and buys the product.

      You pay pay for all real news either directly or indirectly.

      1. Dave 62
        Facepalm

        Re: Don't pay for El Reg?

        see icon

  26. davidleigh

    You can judge whether Andrew knows what he's talking about by the fact that he writes:

    "l this can't go on forever. GMG shareholders (who include pension funds) are not sponsoring a charity designed to make their wealth disappear: shareholder action will force a change of direction sooner or later"

    In fact, as is well-known, the Guardian has no shareholders at all. It is 100% owned by the non-profit Scott Trust .

    There is some value in preserving professional journalists: they're paid to check their facts....

    1. TonyHoyle

      ahahahahahaha

      Journalists checking facts? Have you *read* a newspaper in the last 10 years?

      They all just reword press releases, and if that doesn't come out sensational enough, pull 'facts' out of their arse.

      Unless you're talking about something like fullfact.org, who *are* paid to check facts but they're a blog so not journalists (according to the 'real' journalists).

      1. dogged
        Trollface

        " they're paid to check their facts"

        like Johann Hari, you mean?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "GMG shareholders (who include pension funds) "

      "the Guardian has no shareholders at all. It is 100% owned by the non-profit Scott Trust"

      Thank you Andrew and David for making it clear just how well informed your respective pieces are.

      Isn't Facebook a non-profit company too these days? Is that the way to go for news? It seems to be the way ITV were heading last time I looked at their news...

    3. IHateWearingATie
      FAIL

      You're right...

      ... there is some value in preserving professional journalists.

      But not via a hypothicated tax. The Guardian is a business - make money or die, it's that simple. You (i.e. the Guardian) deserve nothing you haven't earned.

      Oh, and I'm a Guardian subscriber via the iOS app and have read (and paid for it) most days for the last 10 years. CHARGE ME MORE MONEY YOU IDIOTS

    4. El Presidente
      Windows

      There is some value in preserving professional journalists: they're paid to check their facts

      Because Graun hacks do not make many mistakes, do they?

      And the Graun doesn't have probably the largest corrections and clarification section (p28-32) of all papers, does it ?

    5. Yet Another Commentard

      @DavidLeigh

      "In fact, as is well-known, the Guardian has no shareholders at all."

      Except, of course, the shareholder you then go on to name, which owns all the shares in the Guardian Media Group (owner of the Guardian and Observer, the latter of which seems to be under a constant death threat). So it does have shareholders, albeit just the one.

      There is some value in sub-editors who check the inaccurate things professional journalists inadvertently type.

      1. Psyx
        Holmes

        Re: There is some value in preserving professional journalists: they're paid to check their facts

        "And the Graun doesn't have probably the largest corrections and clarification section (p28-32) of all papers, does it ?"

        Perhaps it's because they bother to, instead of never apologising clarifying or otherwise admitting to getting it all wrong?

        1. Fibbles

          Re: There is some value in preserving professional journalists: they're paid to check their facts

          "Perhaps it's because they bother to, instead of never apologising clarifying or otherwise admitting to getting it all wrong?"

          The Graun buries their corrections deep in the newspaper. The Reg publishes its corrections at the end of the relevant article. Try again.

          1. Psyx
            Stop

            Re: There is some value in preserving professional journalists: they're paid to check their facts

            "The Graun buries their corrections deep in the newspaper. The Reg publishes its corrections at the end of the relevant article. Try again."

            The Reg isn't a *paper*, as referenced in what I was replying to.

            Try again.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Newspapers add their £2 a month, BBC adds their £1 a month, Movie industry adds their £5 a month, council adds another £1 a month, before you know it you're paying £100 a month for stuff you tend not to want to people that you'd never give it too while you still need to pay for a subscription to the stuff you do want.

    1. oldredlion
      Headmaster

      "BBC adds their £1 a month"

      Ahem! The BBC get nearly 12 quid a month at present.

      1. johnnytruant

        40p a day, isn't it?

        I'd happily pay that for 6Music alone. Anything else is just a bonus.

        1. oldredlion
          Childcatcher

          "40p a day, isn't it?"

          Hmmm, well according to the Grauniad, it's only 6p per day to fund the media groups.

          That seems like a bargain.

      2. Psyx
        Alert

        "Ahem! The BBC get nearly 12 quid a month at present."

        They can have it.

        Worth every penny purely for Dr. Cox, Top Gear, Dr. Who and the F1.... except we only get half the F1 these days. *grumble*.

        Anyway: It's still less than the 25+ quid Sky want just for the F1.

  28. Jamie Kitson

    Why stop at news?

    Why shouldn't all sites offering a free service get something? Google should be in for a nice little windfall.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why stop at news?

      I propose a 1 pound ISP tax to pay for all the free porn on the internet.

      The money will be distributed by some formula based on Brazilian funbags and 1/number of cups - determined by reg readers.

  29. Christian Berger Silver badge

    It's normal

    I mean for example I have to pay for German commercial TV via advertisement money, even though I don't watch it. There's little difference between such a fee being collected via advertisements or via some sort of enforcement agency.

  30. The Alpha Klutz
    Stop

    there ought to be two new requirements for becoming a teacher.

    Intelligence and decency. It might work, it certainly hasn't been tried yet.

    1. Psyx
      Flame

      Re: there ought to be two new requirements for becoming a teacher.

      "Intelligence and decency. It might work, it certainly hasn't been tried yet."

      More to the point: They should be requirements to being a student. Because that doesn't happen very often in a lot of schools, either.

  31. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Nothing new under the sun

    this is just the blank cassette levy, under a different guise. Although, with advancing years, I'm starting to think they were right: home taping *did* kill music.

  32. cheveron

    Auto Trader

    Didn't the trust recently sell off Auto Trader after having already got rid of the Manchester Evening News?

  33. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
    Flame

    Bunch of no good commie beatniks!

    I don't usually post until the anger subsides, but really...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " The Reg, then, will surely be in line for a buckshee £20m-odd every year under Mr Leigh's plan (strangely he doesn't mention us, it's almost as though some kind of print snobbery were still at work)."

    I think the plan was for funding journalism, which rather rules this august organ out.

  35. The New Turtle
    FAIL

    "the paper lost £54m last year - or £150,000 a day."

    Well that's a good thing, because at least in a couple of years their business can shut down and stop pretending to contribute to society.

  36. El Bertle

    Why is the automatic response of the 'progressive liberals' to a financial shortfall always 'hey - let's take more taxes' ?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like Shite mate!

    Your not getting £2 out of me for print media. Just accept your industry is dead!

    Only the fool hardy buy/read newspapers. Who pays to read someone elses bias opinions?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Obviously

      I can literally smell your fake Burberry from here.

  38. clv101
    Alert

    This is serious

    This is a serious problem. The quality of journalism has been declining for years, there's just no substitute to legwork and hours, both of which cost money. We need to find a way to fund journalism and on-line adverts aren't it!

    I think a ~£24 a year 'tax' on broadband connections, to be distributed to UK based news organisations makes a lot of sense. At least as much sense as the Licence Fee. Just who is a bona fide news organisation is tricky though!

    1. troldman
      Go

      Re: This is serious

      Absolutely. The dire state of local print journalism is also a serious matter that affects us all. If local rags disappear completely, as is very possible, then there will be no checks against local government corruption. Lots of tricky issues to resolve, but subsidising media is not necessarily a bad thing.

    2. Pseu Donyme

      Re: This is serious

      I do agree about the demise of proper journalism being a serious issue. I wonder whether a viable micropayment sceme where you'd conveniently pay a couple of cents / pennies /per article as you go would make a difference. (This was talked about in the 1990s if not earlier, still no such thing, apparently? Technically, at least, it shouldn't be that much of a problem ...).

    3. plrndl
      FAIL

      Pie in the Sky

      There's a fundamental problem here. As a matter of principle, all UK taxation goes into a common pot. If you introduce another tax, it is simply that, another tax. Which will then increase, and expand its revenue base, every budget. Since when was "Road Fund Tax" spent on funding roads? "National Insurance" is a second income tax. Income tax itself was introduced in 1799, at the rate of 0.8% as a temporary measure to fund the Napoleonic Wars. Etc, etc.

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: This is serious

      Wouldn't it be easier to simply give SKY a tax exemption?

      If the idea is simply to transfer lots of money from the pockets of taxpayer to pockets of an australian media baron.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Daily Mail just called...

    ...they are wondering why all their readers are commenting on the Register today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Daily Mail just called...

      If you'd been here longer than a couple of years you'd know the Graun isn't exactly held in a high regard on the reg, and for good reason.

      At least on the reg we only have to put up with the occasional Orlowski or Paige nonsense opinion piece. The Grauniad seems to have them on every page. They don't even have the grace to label them for what they are most of the time; opinion pieces.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Alien

        Re: The Daily Mail just called...

        If you'd been here longer than a couple of years

        I've "been here" since the last century and I'm still surprised by the amount of Daily Mail readers among the Register's downvoting community.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *sigh* have to agree with Orlowski again

    Twice in one week? This is worrying.

  41. JayBizzle
    Pint

    or...

    they could just charge £2 amonth for people who want to view the site.

    pint because the answer is that easy.

    1. Dave 62

      Re: or...

      Please don't trivialise the art of pouring a good pint.

      If I had a pound for every time I'd got a pint of lager with no bubbles on top I'd be able to finance a newspaper.

      Barmaids apparently don't find it funny when you ask them to give you head..

      1. JayBizzle
        Pint

        Re: or...

        I was merely taking a breather and enjoying my pint for the hard work of my idea.

        I would never trivialise the art of pouring a good pint.....

        Cheers

  42. James 36
    Stop

    tish

    stupid idea asking for handouts to support them,

    Why don't the guardian just scrap printing and publish via ebook and subscription to website ?

    ebook can be read on the move and website for static use. not the same as a paper but heyho times are changing.

    have some content free and some paid for but a daily ebook and subs to website might work.

  43. Jan Hargreaves

    I read The Guardian every day that I am online. And that must be about 350 days a year (for the past 7 years at least). It's basically one of the first set of websites I visit whenever I start my browser.

    I would be more than happy to pay £2 a month to them. I have even told them this on their site. Twice. They claim that they set up a donation system before, and it cost more to run than they got in donations. They either need new staff who can run such a system for next to nothing, or they need to advertise it differently because I've never heard of it. Wonder if it got blocked?

    Ahhhh.. .well there is the rub. Wonder if anyone can come up with a way to tell if someone is blocking ads on your site? Force those people to pay. I use Noscript and see no ads. I would not click any, nor buy anything. I would however be happy to pay to access sites, ad free, that enlighten my day (such as yours truly El Reg).

    I do however strongly object to media outlets who want financing when they are not State companies. They have a business, they need to be successful. Most other businesses are streamlining and triming the fat to survive. Most print publications seem to be sticking their fingers in their ears and hoping everyone else will pay for the business to survive regardless of whether they provide a product that anyone wants. (The BBC is a hugely respected company throughout the world. That's another discussion entirely - they should charge the licence fee to anyone abroad who wants to pay it).

    1. Psyx
      Stop

      *I would be more than happy to pay £2 a month to them*

      You might be, but I'm not. Are you willing to pay £40 if only 5% of people want to pay for it?

      I find it laughable that a Liberal newspaper is now trying to dip into the unwilling pockets of others.

      1. Jan Hargreaves

        As I said this would be via donation. I wasn't suggesting that they block the site for anyone that does not pay. Subscription is also not the only source of revenue, there are others, including ads. Additionally they could also cut costs.

        I'm with you on the "tax" idea. It's a non-starter. But hey.. since you are not willing to pay anything at all... how do you suggest that they sustain their business in the long term?

        Was just thinking about this topic again earlier... have to say that Football Weekly is worth £2 a month on it's own! That's 25p per episode... that will get you what.. a third of a can of coke? A tenth of a pint? And you get insight and awesome wit for 40 minutes. Honestly... the Guardian has some bloody excellent products. I don't read the whole website... some of it is of no interest to me whatsoever. I never read the paper version cover to cover either.

        1. Psyx
          Joke

          "Was just thinking about this topic again earlier... have to say that Football Weekly is worth £2 a month on it's own!"

          Is that a bit about score-ball, where they talk about scoring points with kick-balls, or something? Or do they mainly focus on what kind of haircut £300 gets you?

          1. Jan Hargreaves
            Pint

            You jest... but you are either not a football fan or have no idea what I am talking about.

            It's basically the best football podcast there is out there today, and many thousands would agree. James Richardson, Barry Glendinning, Sid Lowe, Raphael Honigstein, Philippe Auclair to name just a few of the excellent pundits they have. It's free and it's quite simply pure gold.

            1. Psyx
              Joke

              "You jest... but you are either not a football fan or have no idea what I am talking about."

              Well yes: That was kind of the point!

              I like my over-paid sports-stars to have at least a small chance of dying in a fiery inferno in exchange for their wads of cash!

  44. Iain Leadley
    WTF?

    No chance

    If they can't make a business work they want some of my money to help them along? I will be polite, SOD OFF.

    All the news has ever done is make people paranoid. Apparantly there's a terrorist, paedophile and mugger on every street corner. I'm sure we would be better off without it.

  45. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great idea!

    Well, extending the argument: Record labels have claimed that the internet has ravished the music industry, so let's chip in for those too. I hear the price of cocaine continues to rise, and they're on hard times. Poor sods. And of course, Waterstones is a shadow of their former self since the rise of the internet and Amazon, so how about we shell out for them and other bookstores too. Then you and I can open a book shop that sells no books, and get a tidy little tax take on it! Fab!

  46. PyLETS
    Trollface

    Much more lucrative ideas

    All the Grauniad has to do to survive is suck up to whoever pays the piper. A few articles supporting of copyright extremism to support the movie industry should do the trick given the music recording industry is a lost cause. And if that doesn't work, write a few pieces supportive of oil industry interests in relation to telling everyone global warming is a leftist conspiracy, and that wind turbines don't work and that nuclear power and fracking for gas are both perfectly safe.

    What could possibly go wrong ?

  47. paulc
    WTF?

    typical...

    can't figure out how to monetise their web content, so they want to tax everybody instead... yet another dinosaur industry destined to go the way of the buggy whip makers if they fail to innovate their way out of their trap... THEY have to make US want to actually pay for their content... Either bring in really sensible very low micro-payments or else charge a suitable low subscription fee... The Times blew it when they made their subscription cost ridiculously high... in fact they were giving it away with hard copy subscriptions and people still didn't take it up in great numbers...

  48. plrndl

    TP

    There are plenty of places to buy purpose-made toilet paer. Who needs newspapers?

  49. Slim

    The King is dead. Long live the King.

    The thing that certain newspapers have yet to realise is that unless you’re willing to offer daily "celebrity" gossip or tits, your printing days are numbered. Let’s be honest, the only "newspapers" that still sell sufficiently are glorified daily versions of magazines like Hello or FMH.

    I'd happily say that the majority of the people, who want to be kept up to date on what's going on around the world, are no longer satisfied with reading information that's 6 hours (at least) out of date. I mean it's called NEWs for a reason; if you want the information, you’ll want the latest information. Until the invention of news channels on TV and the internet, daily printed news was the best way to access the latest information on a particular subject/event, whereas now it is possible to get information on the same events instantly.

    The newspapers need to focus less on the paper part of their business and more on the news part of it. Once they do that and learn that a media company in the 21st century, needs to be self-sufficient on the internet, otherwise they’ll crash and burn like the rest of them.

  50. Andy Fletcher

    Guardian going bust?

    Now that is some good news.

  51. EvilGav 1
    Thumb Up

    I Whole Heartedly Support This

    Now, that opening should get me plenty of down votes, but allow me to explain.

    I hate taxation, as much as everyone else, but the merits in this system are massive.

    Firstly, you would have to define what this money will be used for. Now, if we say "news", then you have to define "news". Readers letters? Not news. Celebrity and other columns? Not news. Continue this ad nauseum. If it's anything that someone writes down, every blog is entitled to it's slice of that pie and having read a fair few blogs, vast swathes could never be called news. So the definition has to be tight, or the pie will be gobbled up by the hnudreds and thousands claiming.

    Secondly and assuming the first point is true, any mistakes which currently resolve to either a retraction or an editing of the story, well the story was just that and not news. If it's not news, you don't get paid for it. Those headlines that turn out to be false and garner a page 21 column 3 retratcion? Well, now you cant count those page counts towards your revenue. It would mean that news would actually have to go back to being investigated or they don't get paid for it.

    Thirdly and quite an important one, you'd have to define who actually gets the money. There are a lot of news items that get picked up by Reuters and re-reported with little to no editing, every publication cant claim for that same story, so it would have to go back to the writer to be the recipient and not the publication. The publication would need to bill it's reporters for hosting their stories and in so doing force the reporter to actual have to write something worthwhile - so a lot less of the fluff pieces.

    So, in conclusionm you have the two choices :

    i. define news properly and force reporting to actually go back to being reporting

    ii. fail to define news, resulting in either the money being so thinly distributed it's worthless or the tax having to be so high no sane person would ever vote the legislation in

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm in

    I thought it as a stupid idea until someone suggested 4p per UK page view.

    I will startup an online newspaper, The Daily Unicorn Review Times Herald (the durth for short) and write an app that pays UK visitors 2p per page visited.

    Win win all round (obviously I would win most)

  53. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    back again!

    Those of us who are old, jaded, and American enough may remember that the motion picture industry tried to levy a tax on VCR tapes about 30 years ago now. One of the first big name, bipartisan lobbying firms laid out a detailed, eloquent, and (I thought) unconvincing case for this.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: back again!

      They succeeded in Canada - we pay 30cents on each blank CD.

      There was a $1/Gb tax proposal on MP3 players but it was defeated

      Unfortunately the scheme doesn't actually cover it's own costs, so no money actually goes to Celine Dion.

      But it does mean that small bands selling their own CDs at gigs pay the levy on their blanks.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am going to start a british web-based newspaper

    So I can get interweb tax money for little or no effort.

    1. Dave 62

      Re: I am going to start a british web-based newspaper

      But you will have to vaguely re-word every pseudo-science press release to be in the third person!

    2. YumDogfood

      Re: I am going to start a british web-based newspaper

      The lawyer of unintended consequences has spoken! We will all be rich!

  55. walatam
    Joke

    Here's an idea

    All commentards should be forced to pay two pence (or cents) when they give their "two cents worth". That would generate a few billion to share around wherever it is needed. Or stop a lot of angry, uninformed venting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an idea

      Why the Joke Alert icon? That's as good an idea as any yet proposed. Read the news for free, comment on it only by buying your way into the columns. In an age when (we think) people want their web to be a 2 way thing, that might work, with a few caveats (no rich people, no mad people, no single issue extremists etc)

      Of course, some of us might not be able to afford our own views, particularly if charged per word.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Here's an idea

        http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_233_one-step-solutions-to-fixing-economy_p20/#1

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about a tax on Apple users

    It seems syndicated to Apple so why not tax all the iPhone owners?

  57. David 45

    Sauce

    Damn cheek I call it! Outrageous suggestion. Why should I be forced to prop up an ailing industry whether I like it or not? Words fail me.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sauce

      Perhaps if you read some print journalism you would have a richer and more diverse vocabulary to eloquently express your dissatisfaction of the scheme?

      Or you could just download our new Stephen Fry comment generator app.

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