back to article A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Could the BBC be better off if it raised money through subscriptions? Last week Westminster heard that the BBC had modelled precisely this scenario and found that it would be richer than it is today. It just didn't want to tell you. And in a strange alignment of interests, the BBC's pay-for rivals don't want you to know either …

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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    Oh?

    Do they assume that everyone currently compelled would suddenly subsribe?

    1. jai

      Re: Oh?

      It's right there in the article, you just need to take a minute to read it before commenting:

      "Roughly 80 per cent of people say they would keep paying for the BBC if the cost was no different to the licence fee," said Elstein. Around 40 per cent would pay double and 10 per cent of licence fee payers would pay treble.

      1. Fogcat

        Re: Oh?

        "If as Elstein posits, 20 per cent gave up paying altogether, 40 per cent paid double and 10 per cent paid treble, then it would have over £5.1bn a year."

        Do they really believe that if 30% were to pay the same as the current licence fee (simple arithmetic on the above) that 50% of people would voluntarily and happily pay more3?

        I really can't see that happening.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "people say they would keep paying for the BBC"

        Well, they say that, but would they actually do so when it came to it? And all those "would pay double/triple" people could do so already - if they really wanted to - by buying redundant licenses, or generously paying the license of someone too poor to pay. Do they ever do this?

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Oh?

        Except those figures are fantasy.

      4. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Oh?

        If the BBC made more money out of it, then presumably it would cost the country more to do it that way. Imagining that being paid by a different method would result in more total money than before is the domain of those stellar minds in the City.

        1. Tom 13

          @Adrian 4

          Oh they might be able to make more money, then again they might not. A lot would depend on how they did it. If they think their survey numbers are rational, they are stark raving bonkers. If they expand they subscription beyond GB, I think they could wind up with a fair chunk more money. I think they'd certainly wind up with programming better targeted at their audience.

      5. Scorchio!!

        Re: Oh?

        You said "It's right there in the article, you just need to take a minute to read it before commenting:"

        Quote snipped.

        Say != do.

      6. Tom 13

        Re: Oh?

        People say one thing in surveys. What they do when the rubber meets the road is frequently different. I read the statement and took it with a shaker full of salt.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Oh?

      @ Robert E A Harvey

      Given the choice I wouldnt pay the BBC. I dont watch much live stuff and occasionally have a look at IPlayer on the off chance there is something that interests me. I dont expect everyone to be like me but I know a lot of people who dont watch BBC and would love to get out of this TV tax.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: Oh?

      "Do they assume that everyone currently compelled would suddenly subsribe?"

      No.

      OTOH if you don't you don't get to watch either.

      Just like other subscription services.

      You don't want it you don't get it.

      1. Tom 13

        @ John Smith 19

        The numbers they gave suggest otherwise. The claim is that based on the survey everyone would keep it if subscription = license fee, but some other lunatics would pay up to treble the cost. That just doesn't pass the smell test.

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Oh?

      BBC TV would have a world wide (!) audience if they'd put (all) their TV channels on NetFlix for another 'Whatever is Fair' dollars per month. Netflix is $8 per month, BBC TV might be worth another $10 to some people. I'd be tempted.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Oh?

        @JeffyPoooh

        That might have been quite easily doable if the BBC still existed in its original form where most programmes were made in-house but since so much productions has been outsourced, the BBC have far, far less modern or current programme rights. That's one reason why so many "BBC" programmes either don't appear on iPlayer at all, or if they do it's for a limited time of a couple weeks at most.

        The rights holders will want a much bigger wodge of cash for international "broadcast" rights, probably calculated per country, because those rights holders making those "BBC" programmes are already in charge of and making money from selling broadcast rights to foreign broadcasters

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Oh?

          @John Brown (no body)

          Good point. Based on what I can see of British TV from here (Canada), I'd rather have British TV than the ~300 channels we have now. My PVR is set to capture what it can of quality TV. I have satellite radio twice over just to have BBC WS on tap (literallly FM modulated throughout the house). Maybe I should just move to England when I retire. Do you have donairs there?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Oh?

            "Maybe I should just move to England when I retire."

            Coincidently, I was thinking of retiring to your wonderful country. If we do, It looks like I'll need a nice fat BB pipe and close contact with friends and relations back here

            For research purposes, I have viewed one or two USA broadcasts of Mythbusters. Continuous animated channel DOG in the bottom right with another promo DOG above it. Yet another promo DOG in top right. Large intermittent promo DOG in top right. Occasional promo DOG of frighteningly large proportions in the bottom left. "ALL NEW MYTHBUSTERS" DOG in top right over Carries face while she does a shot to camera :-( Ad breaks seem rather too frequent although are mercifully not actually present in the file I obtained.

            "Do you have donairs there?"

            Eh? what? (does that answer your question?)

            I just Googled. Recipe available and looks pretty simple. It's now on my "must try" list Meatloaf kebab? LOL Mayber Lester can do a face off between Parmas and Donairs?

    5. SuccessCase

      Re: Oh?

      No, they wouldn't. The report is right and wrong. It is right as a measure of attitudes here and now, but misleading as a longer term prediction. The BBC currently benefits from having a captive audience. Viewers think they offer quality level X because there is a large number of viewers who are offended by advertising and who value highly the PSB/educational output.

      However there is an illusion in these figures (and the BBC know this and so won't act on them). Despite what the article suggests, the BBC would not produce better quality than commercial rivals for less (you only have to be at a sports event and see the difference in work ethic between the grips at commercial production companies and BBC lifers to understand why that is a misinterpretation). The report is in fact suggesting the BBC could earn more because subsets of license fee payers, if able to be targeted through conditional access are prepared to pay more. However what people currently say they are prepared to pay is conditioned by the captive audience effect and lack of exposure to alternatives. This is why the BBC would lose out:

      The BBC PSB/educational programming is its best output and much loved by a highly vocal, highly educated *subset* of audience, whilst being subsidised by the masses much of whom don't really care how good it is. Add conditional access and, unless it is replaced by other artificial rules, that subsidy effect goes away. Cost goes up for those who partake of the content and the perception of value for money rebalances at another level.

      Now for the large majority of BBC output that is not PSB/educational, the captive audience effect will, fairly quickly, be eroded. The reality is, respondents to this survey aren't OTT subscription service users because they are still, comparatively, rare in the UK market. However, where users do have choice between, say BBC iPlayer and Netflix, when it comes to drama they are swinging very heavily to Netflix (and to watching a greater proportion of drama in general). The simple fact is BBC drama has not been competitive with US drama for ages, but due to having a captive audience and, high levels of inertia, thinking based on TV tropes, and lastly due to high levels of aversion to adverts, the captive audience often don't yet realise how comparatively bad it is. But as Netflix is so ably demonstrating, commercial sector drama doesn't need ads to be viable. Once viewers get to compare Breaking Bad, House of Cards, The Good Wife, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy etc. with UK drama (the original BBC House of Cards, whilst good in it's day, is a good example for the purpose of comparison) and develop the habit of finding new content in new places that are not the BBC, they vote with their feet and quickly abandon the pappyfied, excessively PC, low production value BBC shows. Only Sherlock and Dr Who stand out commercially and there are question marks on them (for reasons I don't have time to go into here).

      If the BBC were to survey students, (which I'm sure they are doing) they will be horrified at the results. Since I have an interest in the TV industry, I have been conducting my own informal checking on what students are watching (my daughter is at university and my partners daughter before that). So, yes the sample size is small, yes the questions asked have not been formalised and are limited to students at two universities but also yes, I have been diligently asking and have now sampled across a diverse number of students checking TV viewing habits.

      What I am seeing does not look good for the BBC. From what I am seeing, almost all students have iPlayer and most watch TV content via their laptops, but the word is out, and there is an ongoing and rapid switch to Netflix and Love Film. Neither have adverts and amongst student subscribers (where account sharing is rife) time spent watching BBC output is all but wiped out. The level of recommendation to other students is off the scale (the captured audience damn is bursting with a devastating effect). As far as I can see, the BBC is in the process of being wiped out amongst the student population; the next generation of TV viewer. They should be worried. Extremely worried.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Oh?

        " there is an ongoing and rapid switch to Netflix and Love Film. Neither have adverts and amongst student subscribers (where account sharing is rife) time spent watching BBC output is all but wiped out."

        Account sharing is the modern analogue to newspaper and magazine sharing. Publishers frequently say that their readership is wider than their subscribership. For the BBC this is a significant danger. They've sat back on their laurels, sucking the licence fee cash cow pipe for too long and have become complacent. This will change and soon. It probably won't change in the way that any of us think, and may even involve an admixture of income sources. Whatever happens I both want to see us freed of the shackle of viewer taxation and dread the thought of the mess that might follow. I think the BBC are reliant on responses like mine. Certainly there is a strong chance that a drop in quality might follow.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Student TV

          I thought they just watched the Teletubbies.

    6. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Oh?

      Maybe you would look such a tit if you actually read the article, that answers exactly that question 2wice.

      tit

  2. ElectricFox
    Childcatcher

    Adverts

    Interesting that this article doesn't bring up the thorny issue of advertising. I never took out a Sky subscription after sharing one in a student flat. You're paying extortionate fees for advert-riddled television. Many parents will only put BBC children's TV on for their kids, because they're all too aware of the power that adverts wield over young impressionable kids. Whatever the BBC decides to do; please, for goodness sake, don't introduce adverts and kill the golden goose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Adverts

      Interesting that this article doesn't bring up the thorny issue of advertising.....

      Already exists.....It's called Channel 4.

      http://www.channel4.com/info/corporate/about

    2. Boothy

      Re: Adverts

      Personally I've always thought that there aught be rules around subscriptions and advertising.

      i.e.

      If you have adverts on your channel, it MUST be free to air.

      If you charge a subscription fee, you are not allowed to have adverts (or sponsorship) on that channel.

      So you pick one, or the other, revenue stream. Not both.

    3. John 156

      Re: Adverts

      Parents should be aware that the BBC childrens' output is mainly concerned with the Cultural Marxist grooming of their children; they may not pester to be poisoned by unwholesome food substitutes, but their tiny minds are being poisoned by toxic propaganda which is in many ways far worse.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Adverts @john 156

        Really o wise one care to give us an example of that? Or just trolling? Having Kids of 4 & 3 I can assure you that the BBC's output is by far the most harmless and educational of any other broadcaster.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Adverts

        you, sir, would appear to have a wit composed entirely of industrial grade fuck.

      3. mrweekender

        Re: Adverts

        "Their tiny minds are being poisoned by toxic propaganda" = absolute horseshit.

      4. Lamont Cranston

        Re: "Cultural Marxist grooming"

        Sarcasm doesn't work on internet forums; please use the joke icon in future.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    Stupidity

    PSB isn't about money.

    Sky makes most from Subscription TV, yet 92% of what Sky Subscribers watch is Free To Air.

    Sky 1 and Sky Sport (all added) each had about 1.5% viewing each.

    In reality most people wouldn't pay for an extra platforms. Surveys can be misleading. Sky & UPC (formerly Virgin) dominate pay TV. BBC would become the equivalent of Disney and Nickleodeon and content would deteriorate further to a lower common denominator.

    1. Gav

      Re: Stupidity

      Precisely. This study is looking at the wrong question. It's not whether the BBC would be richer under subscriptions, it is; would the programming be better or worse? I don't care if the BBC could be loaded with cash, if it means the programmes are crap.

      The TV quality, of course, is a matter of opinion. But from my viewpoint subscription means that the BBC just becomes another TV company producing lowest-common-denominator TV in search of the largest possible number of subscribers. It also means that the UK market becomes entirely a fight for maximum viewers. Essentially a race to the bottom. Whether you like the BBC or not, I believe its presence in the market sets a benchmark. Other TV companies can't just pump out rubbish and adverts, because the BBC is always there as an alternative to the viewers.

  4. Oli 1

    Give me the option and i'll detune immeadiately, oh and i'll block iplayer locally for you as well.

    Now for a reduction in the bbc's monopoly on the FM band.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      BBC's monopoly on FM Band.

      Nonsense.

      But DAB should be scrapped. That unfairly benefits National over local Broadcasters and INHERENTLY all Digital Radio is more user Power Consumption, worse coverage EXPERIENCE and worse radio use Experience. (Tuning / selecting / channel change delay).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BBC's monopoly on FM Band.

        They own more of the spectrum than anyone else, and also don't release unused spectrum.

        DAB does have to go, but so does BBC R1-4

        http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/vfm/dt_spectrum.pdf

        1. Lamont Cranston

          Re: BBC's monopoly on FM Band.

          You can have Radio 4, when you TAKE IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD, EARS!

          Hmm, that doesn't really work, but you get the gist.

  5. JP19

    Bollocks

    "Roughly 80% of people say they would keep paying for the BBC if the cost was no different to the licence fee"

    With only 80% paying they equivalent of the license fee they would have 80% of their income so the cost would have to be different or have to be less or lower quality output. Less than 80% would keep paying for a worse service and it just spirals down.

    Also what people say they will do and what they will actually do are different especially when it comes to spending money.

    I don't think there is a snowball in hell's chance the BBC would take more money as a subscription service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bollocks

      Well named comment - read the article!

    2. Fuzz

      Re: Bollocks

      I agree, I just can't see this working. The technical side alone is full of holes. Currently you pay for 1 license per household, it doesn't matter if you have 1 TV or 10 TVs, or any mixture of TVs set top boxes, USB dongles, PVRs etc.

      In a subscription model every one of these devices is going to need a card. Lets say I have Sky, I have a single sky box but also I have 3 TVs in bedrooms upstairs that don't have Sky subs and are currently viewing free to air BBC. Under the new system do I pay my BBC sub to Sky? Do I then have to pay a second sub for my upstairs TVs? Is that per TV or am I covered for the whole house? If I'm covered for the whole house how many cards am I allowed? What stops me from asking for more cards than I need and giving them away or selling them on the black market?

      What about all the devices that don't have card slots? My TV has one but my media PC just has USB tuners, will my subscription cover the cost of new tuners for my PC or can I only use a BBC approved PVR?

    3. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Bollocks

      But isn't the point that the beeb could up it's charges by 300% and still compete with VM and murdochvision on cost alone.

      or to put it another way

      charge 200% of current fees and kick the competitions ass, and on that measure see a 60% increase in income. (if you accept the unsubstantiated numbers as quoted)

      Loads of people bitch about the licence fee, hurumphing about it being a tax and all that bollocks, when push came to shove and they thought (a novel experience for many of them) about what they were actually buying for the money. they'd pay up. Though unfortunately for us they would be unlikely to STFU about it.

  6. MrXavia

    Would I pay the fee? yes...

    But I hate these 'technological means' they talk of, right now my TV's don't need anything else to receive the broadcast, I assume if I pay a fee I get access cards for every TV in my home and a code to access the entire back catalogue online?

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      What would be nice would be to get to the situation they are in in Germany _most of the EU (I think) where the CAM Common Interface is well defined, and decoder cards can be easily used in any solution.

      They could even legislate to force the dirty digger to provide an interoperable CAM/CI card for his services.

  7. MJI Silver badge

    Multiple tuners - what then?

    That said licence fee amount is enough for me.

  8. jason 7 Silver badge

    The quality would improve greatly....

    ....if they cut back to three channels instead of watering down the quality to fill the 8 or so they currently try to make us think they can fill.

    How many channels for kids now? Why not get rid of them and let mum and dad take responsibility for entertaining the kid for a while? They might even be able to talk properly by the time they are 4 as well!

    Good chance by this time next year we'll have dropped the license and just switch to Netflix for our occasional entertainment needs.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: The quality would improve greatly....

      The quality would improve greatly....if they cut back to three channels instead of watering down the quality to fill the 8 or so they currently try to make us think they can fill.

      Absolutely, and its been that way for decades. There's about enough talent in the UK to fill 4 TV channels. Add a sports channel. Add another to deal with imported programs: by the time all the dross is filtered out there'd be just about enough good material to fill another channel . An all-news channel isn't needed as has been amply proved by any of the the current 24 hour news channels, so all the UK really needs is 6 TV channels in total.

      Doing this would mean that the existing FM radio channels can be left as they are and DAB can be killed off. The bandwidth occupied by DAB and the un-needed terrestrial TV channels can now be sold off to the highest bidder.

      There you go: fixed it for you. TV quality and the bandwidth shortage sorted out with a single swipe of the pen.

      1. Lamont Cranston

        Re: The quality would improve greatly....

        Thanks, Martin. What about all the people who don't want to watch the same things that you do?

    2. Tom 13

      Re: The quality would improve greatly....

      You've only got 8? Wait until you get 300. Then you'll really know how bad it can get.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Follow what money?

    As an outsider to Britain I'm puzzled by this:

    "Yet the political will was lacking. The BBC won't dare raise the subject in public - and Ministers have become almost as dependent on the guaranteed firehose of cash as the BBC itself, Elstein claimed."

    Apparently the Ministers are enrichifying from the current system and want to keep it that way, but exactly how are those monies getting to the Ministers? Is it built into the system or are they skimming somehow?

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Follow what money?

      As in insider to Britan, I'm puzzled by this: "enrichifying"

      To answer your question: I don't believe Ministers are benefiting from the licence fee directly, they just don't have to fork any public cash out because it exists.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Follow what money?

        > To answer your question: I don't believe Ministers are benefiting from the licence fee directly, they just don't have to fork any public cash out because it exists.

        That and the money raised from the fines levied on non-payers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Follow what money?

          Ministers benefit from the current system because they get to hold the BBC's leash and ensure the right propaganda reaches the masses. British society might change quite a bit if the place where 90 odd percent of of Brits get their daily news had true independence.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Follow what money? @AC 19:43

            If any of the other mainstream news providers in the UK (so not Al Jazeera, EuroNews or Russia Today) were producing anything with a significantly different spin to BBC News, I might just agree with you. However, ITN and Sky News follow basically the same path on virtually every story.

            What exactly is it that you want the news providers to give you that they don't already?

          2. Fogcat

            Re: Follow what money?

            "Ministers benefit from the current system because they get to hold the BBC's leash and ensure the right propaganda reaches the masses."

            These would be the same ministers (of whatever government right or left) that complain about the BBC?

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Follow what money?

      200,000 people fined each year for not having a licence.

      the fine is more than the cost of the licence

      1. Neil B

        Re: Follow what money?

        Well, yes, otherwise it wouldn't be much of a disincentive would it?

        Anyway, that 1 in 10 figure is just perverse. Surely those on very low incomes should be exempt.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Could the BBC be better off if it raised money through subscriptions?"

    No, there, now can I have my million pound consultants fee please?

    A TV license costs as near as makes no difference £150 a year now. That's £12.50 a month for 4 TV channels. 3 of which you'd actually watch sometimes, and one of them only starts at 7pm and mainly shows repeats from BBC1 plus the iPlayer (I forget if you need a license for that or if it is only for the live TV).

    Netflix costs £5.99 a month.

    Even if they did go for the subscription model there is no way that they will get anywhere close to the revenue they currently have and they will go bust...OnDigital and ITV Digitals subscription services proved that.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      You forgot Radio

      I listen to the Radio far more frequently than I watch TV.

      Their Radio output would be the first to go it it went Subscription.

      Going to a Subscription model is only a short step to letting the advertisers in to their broadcasts.

      ITV is bad but all the other channels are far worse. Commercial TV is Adverts interrupted with short programme breaks. I for one don't want the BBC to go down that slippery slope.

    2. Bobthe2nd

      Content Generator

      Its not sensible to compare the BBC against Netflix. Netflix just buy and stream, they dont for example operate worldwide radio broadcast services or film/commission work.

      Therefore £150 or whatever it is, seems good value even if it was just for their science output.

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: Content Generator

        Watch this space as Netflix becomes a major creator of drama and content over the next 5 years.

        They have already got off to a good start. Plus as they state, they don't have to pander to advertisers also.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Content Generator

        ..Therefore £150 or whatever it is, seems good value even if it was just for their science output.

        Firstly, I don't watch that much TV*, but as the other denizens of my house (aka family) do, I (grudgingly) fork out for the license.

        I wouldn't mind a tick box on my license which stated which types of 'programming' my monies went to fund, I'd happily tick one for science, so long as they also promise to stop dumbing down the damn programmes. (Ditto wrt the wildlife stuff, there has been a marked drop in quality of output there as well).

        I'd also love a list of programme categories that absolutely none of my monies went to fund, not even a stray Vietnamese dong's worth would go to sports, reality(hah) tv, fscking property shows, eastenders, oh, how long this list would be...

        A 'shitlist' of people that my monies should in no way or form fund would be nice as well.

        *Stargate, Enterprise, Sherlock Holmes (The Brett ones), Mock The Week repeats, Father Ted, Occasional film on Film4.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Content Generator

          I don't have a TV and don't pay license but I watch iPlayer.

          If there were a way to donate to BBC and directly support the sorts of programs I watch, then I would do that. But there isn't, and so I don't.

    3. jaywin

      Four channels?

      BBC One

      BBC Two

      BBC Three

      BBC Four

      And then there's:

      BBC News

      CBBC

      CBeebies

      BBC Alba

      And that's before you include the World Service television channels which will shortly be paid from the licence fee rather than a grant from the FCO.

      I'm still not sure which one of those mostly shows repeats from BBC One though...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Netflix costs £5.99 a month.

      And you can see why. Just went to their site and there were 4 prominent films/programmes featured, presumably to entice new customers.

      First up is a film starring Will Ferrell. If that's not a good enough reason to avoid a film, I din't know what is.

      Next, Frankie Boyle. Not everyone's cup of tea. Personally, I think he's OK, a lot of people would disagree.

      Then, Breaking Bad. One of those American series that are allegedly brilliant, but, for some reason fail to make me want to watch them.

      Lastly, Netflix's own super-series, House Of Cards, proudly trumpeted as "A Netflix Original Series", except, well, it's a remake. Of a BBC programme. Based on a British book about British politics.

      So, you keep Netflix, I'll keep the BBC. Go take a look at the Netflix British TV category. The vast majority is produced by the very organisation you are criticising. Take that away, as well as, presumably, the public funding for Channel 4, and you're left with a handful of ITV produced content. You obviously love American TV, as that is all that would be left if the BBC disappeared.

      It may have evaded your intelligence, but, someone has to make TV programmes, and company's like Netflix are not the ones to do it.

      1. Andrew Jones 2

        Have you even seen House of Cards?

        You can't call it a remake simply because a British Version exists. The Netflix House of Cards is very American and deals with the American political system.

        A remake is something which is recreated after the original and is almost entirely the same story as the original.

        You can't even say it is "based on" because the original deals with the British political system and the Netflix version deals with the American political system.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        not strictly fair..

        netflix is not quite as bad as you are painting it, it makes quite a bit more stuff than house of cards. but i accept your overall point

    5. Naughtyhorse

      Netflix??????

      Not a like for like comparison, VM or SKY are proper comparisons and they are way more expensive. And presumably they would have to pay to rebroadcast BBC's content under this model. I have a VM package, about 140 channels alledgedly (I have never counted) of which I watch probably 7, 2 of which are BBC.

  11. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    VFM

    So the BBC provides value for money, the overwhelming majority agree, and would be happy to pay the same (or more) through subscription as they do through license fee. I wouldn't disagree with that.

    So don't try to fix what isn't broken. Not that I can see how the BBC could become subscription only and still fit with the free-to-air and free-to-view offerings we currently have.

    Call me cynical but it couldn't be about trying to get rid of free-to-air and free-to-view could it?

  12. Mark Eaton-Park

    What people are forgetting is...

    They could sack:

    1. All those employees who go door to door attempting to intimidate people into buying a license for a service they don't use

    2. Crapita

    these are where they make the big savings along with not having to pay the independent broadcasters a cut of the license fee ( not mentioned I note).

    To me sacking those badgers would make it all worth while, yes they are paying that ex-SKY scum too much money, i.e. anything at all, however if it means one less group of people banging on my door demanding my attention, I am all for it

    Sorry I meant I would still pay the BBC, honest, I really really would continue to pay the technology tax

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Although he did say the BBC pays presenters 'bugger all'. "

    Quite right, all the money goes to the freelance presenter's service company. Which then pays them in a tax-minimizing route

    eg http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/bbc-stars-go-back-payroll/552744

    1. Darren Barratt
      Happy

      I doubt if anyone on this site full of IT contractors would recognize that method of operation!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scandinavian model ?

    So, are we going to apply this logic across the board to what can be broadly labeled as 'indespensible' services ? Is a bus fair going to be cheaper if you make less money ? Drinking water ? Electrical power ? Or does this logic apply to every form of spending by the general public ? A Bentley perhaps ? A family holiday to Ibiza ?

    Granted, the two last examples seem silly. But is it not true higher incomes already pay more taxes ? And not only in absolute numbers, but higher tax brackets. Are people who spend more not only paying more taxes, but also more sales tax - in absolute numbers - because they by more and more expensive consumer goods ? Are we returning to 'there's one for you, nineteen for me' ?

    It reeks of communism. And I thought we had generally come to the conclusion it doesn't work.

    Bear in mind Scandinavian politicians are no different from the ones in Blighty, or Belgium for that matter : they keep trying to find new ways of extorting money from citizens and use a never ending supply of bovine excrement to sell it as 'fairness'.

  15. jai

    i'd happily pay more

    as long as it meant more than 3 episodes of Sherlock per season, and Top Gear specials at Xmas instead of at some random time a month or two later.

    and less bloody eastenders

    1. King Jack
      Facepalm

      Re: i'd happily pay more

      The BBC make 3 episodes of Sherlock because they can get away with it. If they made a proper run of say 13 a series it would still cost the tax payers the same. So they make 3 and laugh all the way to the bank. Same logic with Top Gear. People love being shafted by the BBC so much they defend them.

      Let them go subscription, so I can stop getting extortion letters every month.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Sherlock

        But they want to take their time and do it well not churn out a load of crap. We only have one Moffatt and he has to do DW as well

  16. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    It seems the Beeb has only the highest regard for and of itself no?

    £11 per month will give us:

    BBC 1, 2, 3, 4 and a part time Cbeeby or two

    on tv

    Sky £30 per month will give us all of the Beebs plus a heck of a lot more.

    I think the Beeb is using power generator tactics to overprice its product and if the subscription model goes ahead pray tell how I can listen to BBC Radio York in, say, Cornwall?

    For BBC tv I think a £1 per channel per month seems reasonable if not a bit on the high side

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      If Sky is £30 a month now, and the BBC would be £11, then Sky then would be £41 a month, assuming you didn't opt out of BBC channels.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      heck of a lot more......

      a brace of shopping channels

      a further brace of repeat channels

      a further brace of 'buying a house, painting it and selling it on' channels

      a couple of second rate bbc1 imitators

      3 maybe 4 proper channels

      a laughable news channel

      a plethora of music channels (all shite)

      and a fishing channel

      sports... thats extra

      movies...thats extra

      yup! that IS a lot more, but a lot more of what is debatable.

      Not to mention that the beeb retransmission is on the basis that you have a licence, under a subs model, they would be extra.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: heck of a lot more......

        Oh you guys need to come to Australia where the Dirty Digger, together with that nice Mr Packer The Younger, have worked televisual magic.

        You get only one laughable news channel? We get six! And one (Sky News) still seems to give over half it's coverage to sport. The other half consists of hard news items such as 'Australia is the best country in the world and by God you should be grateful we let you live here' and 'Those Foreigners. They're funny, aren't they?'.

        We also get nothing that would even merit 'second rate' on the BBC wannabe scale, Discovery Science specially tailored for the Aussie viewer, which means no science at all, ever, but lots of fighter aircraft, US cars and big explosions, Aurora, which combines the best of fishing programmes (not a high bar) with the best of 'Driving a Ute up hills' programmes, extraordinarily camp gay dating programmes (I can't think of a gay friend who doesn't cringe when introduced to it), and my personal favourite, the 'Wasn't music great in the 50s before it all went shite?' show.

        I can more than recommend Oz for the climate, the lifestyle and the people. But never for the TV. Best to migrate here by boat and reel out your aerial cable behind you as you go.

  17. TheTick

    Quality

    "However, Hewlett warned of "perverse incentives" for the BBC if subscriptions were introduced - it would seek to maximise revenue rather than maintain quality."

    Does the concept of maximising revenue *by* maintaining quality not occur to them. I'm not an Apple fan but you can't deny they have done well by producing quality products for example.

    Overall it's about damn time these things were being looked at. There's a few good BBC programs I watch but there's an awful lot I object to being forced to pay for if I dare to watch Sky Atlantic.

    Join the free market - thrive or fall like the rest of us have to.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Quality

      Well there are plenty of examples where maximizing revenue has lead to lower quality.

      The market doesn't care about quality, it only cares about marketing. It doesn't matter if your product is better for the same price all that matters is how it's sold. Look at Apple, their products are mediocre at best at top prices. Selling things costs a lot of money and virtually every consumer electronics company spends way more on marketing than actual technical product development.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Quality

      The UK's commercial broadcasters generally don't go for quality in order to get revenue. They make most of their revenue from advertising, and the remainder from their subscribers and the TV licence.

      High-quality TV is extremely expensive to make - that's why it's so rare.

      If the BBC turned fully commercial then they would obviously reduce their quality because that makes them more profit - and the existing commercial channels would be able to reduce their quality further as they'd be compared to a worse quality of programming.

      The BBC keeps the commercial broadcasters honest - and not just UK ones, because every broadcaster around the world is compared to the BBC.

      On top of that, the commercial broadcasters would get less revenue because most of them get a small cut of the licence fee!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Quality

        "the existing commercial channels would be able to reduce their quality further as they'd be compared to a worse quality of programming.

        The BBC keeps the commercial broadcasters honest - and not just UK ones, because every broadcaster around the world is compared to the BBC."

        Upvoted for that. I suspect the BBC will eventually die or change beyond all recognition but on the whole this what helped keep standards up despite the evidence that it is falling now.

    3. Vic

      Re: Quality

      > Does the concept of maximising revenue *by* maintaining quality not occur to them

      No. It doesn't.

      Vic.

  18. M7S

    "Radio 4 is worth the licence fee alone"

    Aah, memories

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lzS8yW8INA

  19. Daz555

    I get so annoyed when the cost of the BBC is brought into question. It is simply the finest broadcaster on the planet. No question.

    Bloody hell, www.bbc.co.uk/everysubjectimagineableincludinghowtopassyourgcse is in itself probably worth the licence fee alone.

    Please, leave the BBC alone.

    1. TheTick

      It's not the cost, it's the method of funding. If it's so great then why are they so afraid of selling their product rather than having the government force people to buy it?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. OrsonX
      Facepalm

      "the finest broadcaster on the planet"

      I wouldn't pay and begrudge being forced to pay now.

      The worst channel is BBC News 24.

      Reporter: I'm standing IN the IMPACT crater, let's ask this woman how she feels having lost her house, her home and her 5 children?

      How the fuckin fuck do you fuckin think she is feeling?!!!

      Then (after the sport, ne. football) I can look forward to the weather FORECAST, where I can hear what the weather has been like TODAY, FFS!

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: How the fuckin fuck do you fuckin think she is feeling?!!!

        upvote!

      2. Timfy67

        Re: "the finest broadcaster on the planet"

        "How the fuckin fuck do you fuckin think she is feeling?!!!"

        You are Peter Capaldi AICMFP...

    3. Moosh
      Thumb Up

      This is completely true.

      If anyone deigned to actually watch the drivel thats shown on literally any other broadcasters channels, I think they'd really change their tune.

      A single BBC nature documentary is, in my opinion, worth many years of my subscribing to the BBC. Pioneering in most every way. Do you honestly think any other broadcaster on the face of this planet would have done that?

      All these American dramas that people are raving about I find incomprehensibly dull. I honestly don't understand their attraction, they're still bloated and melodramatic in the way that only America seems to do.

      But then I suppose i'm in the minority. I don't watch television dramas, I watch arts, history, documentaries, entertainment and other, all of which the BBC is unarguably the best at, regardlessy our fondness of American or BBC drama.

  20. Tsung
    FAIL

    Here comes the TV & Internet Licence fee..

    I don't pay for a TV licence, my TV isn't tuned for any channel, I watch Film & TV Series from Netflix.

    However, one of my biggest annoyances with the BBC is the technology exists to encrypt the channel and deliver it to just those who pay for it. The big digital switch over was the perfect time to incorporate this technology. Instead they would rather make out people who choose not to watch broadcast TV are criminals. I'm certain the "long term" goal for the BBC is this..

    "We cannot possibly monitor everybody who uses I-Player and we cannot issue usernames / passwords for those who pay the TV licence so our only option is an TV & Internet Licence fee."

    Lets see if it happens...

    1. dajames Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Here comes the TV & Internet Licence fee..

      .... one of my biggest annoyances with the BBC is the technology exists to encrypt the channel and deliver it to just those who pay for it. The big digital switch over was the perfect time to incorporate this technology.

      You're advocating DRM on broadcast TV.

      DRM is the name given to the application of technlogy to the task of making things difficult for people who have paid for them, in the vain hope of making things even more difficult for those who have not.

      It doesn't work. Those who really want to will always get around the protection and make unprotected copies. Those who do pay for the content will find that their viewing experience is less convenient and more restrictive that the system provided under a licence fee (you can't watch that upstairs, because it's encrypted and only the downstairs TV has a card slot; you can't record this channel because the video recorder doesn't understand encrypted channels; yes, I did record that for you on my special, expensive, DRM-enabled video recorder, but it was only available for a week and the recorder erased automatically on Tuesday).

      The licence fee is BY FAR the fairest and most convenient means of collecting revenue for the broadcast media, and I'd happily pay it ten times over if I could have all forms of DRM banished from the planet forever.

      I'm not suggesting that piracy is acceptable -- far from it -- just that there are other ways of preventing it, some of which might actually work.

      Instead they would rather make out people who choose not to watch broadcast TV are criminals.

      Now, I agree that the tactics used against those who genuinely do not watch broadcast television are somewhat tactless and heavy-handed, at times. You have to understand, though, that the BBC believes that the work it does is fantastic and that nobody in their right mind would eschew it. I'm not saying that I agree with them, but I do see how it must be difficult for them to believe that some people just don't want to watch TV.

      Personally, I'll happily pay the licence fee to fund Radio 3 and BBC4 (not Radio 4) ... and if that means I'm allowed to watch repeats of Star Trak on Pick as well ... that's a bonus!

      Icon: Man who watches too much television.

      1. dajames Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Oops!

        Personally, I'll happily pay the licence fee to fund Radio 3 and BBC4 (not Radio 4) ...

        Replying to myself (not that that's a novelty) because it's too late to edit.

        Sorry, that makes it look as though I'm dissing Radio 4, which wasn't my intention. I'm very happy for Radio 4 -- as well as other BBC endeavours -- to be funded from the licence fee even though I personally hardly ever listen to it ... but it's Radio 3 and BBC4 television that I'd be happy to pay for if I had to subscribe to each channel separately (which, I hope, nobody is suggesting).

  21. M7S

    Radio 4 is worth the licence fee alone

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lzS8yW8INA

    Oh the irony

  22. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Joke

    I would gladly sell my house

    and all it's contents to pay for the BBC ...

  23. Darren Barratt
    Thumb Down

    Market zealot propaganda

    What about radio? All the best radio channels are BBC (4, 6 and a little of 2), but they've not been mentioned.

    Sky should be taxed to help pay for the BBC. TV is only as popular as it is because the BBC is excellent, so Sky should compensate them for supplying such a fertile market.

    If only 80% of people continue to pay what they are paying now, then it's a 20% cut in revenue. Surely maths isn't so bad that this nonsense is being believed.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Market zealot propaganda

      They should fund radio from road tax, after all it's the only time _I_ ever listen to it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In reality ..

    Odd shows like "Sherlock" excepted, I could happily live with BBC4 only.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: In reality ..

      "I could happily live with BBC4 only."

      Except that, with a subscription model, BBC4 would probably be first against the wall. "Too niche, too boring, nobody wants to watch a documentary about XYZ, we'll never sell it to other broadcasters, no, get rid of it and let's have more Britain's Got Big Brother Coming Dancing Strictly Through a Hole in a Wall on Ice..."

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @Graham Marsden

        ""Except that, with a subscription model, BBC4 would probably be first against the wall. "Too niche, too boring, nobody wants to watch a documentary about XYZ, we'll never sell it to other broadcasters, no, get rid of it and let's have more Britain's Got Big Brother Coming Dancing Strictly Through a Hole in a Wall on Ice..."

        You forgot all those Scandinavian crime dramas.

        Who watches them?

      2. Naughtyhorse

        Re: In reality ..

        Well I think that 'Britain's Got Big Brother Coming Dancing Strictly Through a Hole in a Wall on Ice' is worth the licence fee alone

  25. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Devil

    Easy solution...

    1) Not a license payer - then Adverts or you pay to access the site.

    2) License payer - then you get the site with no adverts.

    and before people say the BBC don't do adverts, well they do on the BBC world news channel... no one seems to mind there.

    This works on the presumptions that if people don't pay then at least there is some advertising revenue, and as i license payer, i think i pay enough as is. I think this is fair and reasonable without being a tard and blocking people via a paywall.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution...

      One of the reasons to dislike the USA is that it came up with the idea that broadcasting is necessarily an arm of advertising. Relying on advertising revenue necessarily means that you are chasing numbers, not quality. It is the worst of all possible media funding models.

  26. Steve Knox

    Hold on...

    "Roughly 80 per cent of people say they would keep paying for the BBC if the cost was no different to the licence fee," said Elstein. Around 40 per cent would pay double and 10 per cent of licence fee payers would pay treble.

    What would those people paying double or treble get?

    At first, I thought he was describing a demand curve, but the math doesn't work in that case. The best they could do is about 88% of current revenue by charging about 1.5 times as much.

    Later paragraphs describe the income as made up of the equal payers + the double payers + the treble payers, indicating that some people would be paying more. Are we talking separate subscriptions for each channel, then? That could work, but information is scarce on whether that would align with the general demand statement made by Elstein.

    And of course, all of this speaks only to economic value, not to societal value. The BBC may make more money this way, but will they make better content? Or will they just make more popular content in order to chase as much subscription money as possible? Take a look at the US cable channels for the likely answer to that.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Hold on...

      And, of course, there's a difference between someone *saying* they would pay more and actually *paying* more.

      If the surveyors had then said "Ok, stick your hand in your pocket right now and pay", how many people would have said "Sure!" and how many would have said "Err, well..."?

  27. MikeyD85

    I wouldn't sub

    No MotoGP, half assed F1 coverage. Why the hell do I pay my licence still? I don't even watch TV any more.

    1. Vic

      Re: I wouldn't sub

      > half assed F1 coverage

      It's been that way since Murray Walker stopped commentating.

      I've begun to wonder whether my love of F1 was largely down to his enthusiasm...

      Vic.

  28. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    The Elephant in the room

    "Two-thirds of homes already have a satellite or cable box through which they could pay the BBC sub."

    OK, that covers 1 of the 8 televisions in my house. Do the other 7 become useless? The people who come up with this guff assume that there is only one TV in the house. I wish they'd leave the 1970's and move into the 1980's, when more than one TV per house became common.

    Oh, maybe they assume that they are all modern TV's, and have CAM modules?

    Well, it's possible that the ones in my house with Freeview built in may have them, I've never needed to check the LCD TV's I bought the kids. By there are at least three in the house that use external STBs that definitely don't.

    If you go down to Tesco and buy one of their £17 STBs for Freeview, they definitely don't. And I suspect that a significant part of the older members of the population, plus a huge number of older TV's that have been re-purposed to entertain the kids or sit in the kitchen will have a cheap STB rather than something that can use a CAM.

    So. Are we all going to get some financial support to replace all this with new kit?

    And how are you going to make broadcast radio conditional? A lot of radio listening is done in the car or on mobile battery-powered radios that already exist?

  29. ArtG

    Richer?

    I think you need to check your maths...

    If 80% will pay no more that current cost then that brings in 80% of current revenue.

    Move the price to double and you get current revenue - 40% who are willing to pay this price and 10% who would pay even more. 50% * 2 = 100%

    Finally at triple current cost, the revenue would be just 30% of current.

    Your 5.1bn assumes that people would pay different tariffs just because they think the service is worth that much but who is going to pay double or treble if the cheaper tariff is on offer?

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Richer?

      "Move the price to double and you get current revenue - 40% who are willing to pay this price and 10% who would pay even more. 50% * 2 = 100%"

      I read it as the 10% who would pay triple were included in the 40% who would pay double, otherwise the statistic makes even less sense than it does. Who would say they'd pay triple but not double?

      So 40% * 2 = still 80%.

      Not that it matters; these are hypothetical figures with little basis in reality.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Richer?

      You missed the part of the licence fee that doesn't go to the BBC, as some of it goes to other broadcasters, and also the fact that the BBC gets about 30-40% of its income from elsewhere.

  30. Ryan Clark

    If the BBC was a subscription service then they would be competing for subscribers and their revenue would depend on it. I wouldn't like how the content would change if that was what they had to do.

  31. Don Jefe

    Trifocals No Longer Adequate

    So I put on my trifocals (I call them my variable plane reality viewing selector. I get to pick how reality appears to me) to consider this proposal from many angles. I concluded I had wasted my time, as this sort of thing has so much precedent that it should be a sacking offense for even suggesting it.

    It isn't a BBC thing, nor a UK thing, it is as universally true to the maximum extent possible by Humans. See, there's this weird logic failure that occurs anytime people start discussing transitioning public institutions towards a more privatized sort of thing. Letting 'the market' determine the value of the services received.

    When you start running public institutions (and governments as a whole) using business oriented strategies you inevitably pull proven private sector business experts into management roles: The logic fails right there.

    Anybody with the proven business success to competently handle senior management roles are also the very first to tell you that getting off the government teat is extraordinarily dumb. Honestly, that's what you'd want the person running your business to say. It's wildly irresponsible to not do so. Intentionally cutting off revenue streams as part of a strategy requires a very peculiar, very Elop shaped thought process.

    Those same business leaders are also guaranteed to exploit (rightfully) the tremendous advantage given to them by running a cultural cornerstone institution that can't be allowed to fail. It's basically a huge stack of checks endorsed by the government and you just fill in the money parts as you like.

    The only variable in these situations are the route(s) government funds take to get to the institution. Sometimes it is hard to identify those routes, but either directly, or indirectly, the funds keep coming and are always on the increase. Direct funds usually come from various government agencies that pay orders of magnitude more for various services than the current market rates (PSA's and in-school programs are good examples). Indirect funds are generally sent by way of new or updated national legislation (examples include some percentage of wholly unrelated taxes are diverted to the institution and tax benefits so incredibly specific only that institution qualifies for them).

    Once you really start to break out the funds that are visible (not even including non-publicly disclosed funds) it becomes readily apparent such transitions nearly always cost the taxpayer more than it had before. Even considering how wasteful and inefficient government operations generally are they still pay lip service to being there for the taxpayers benefit. The mission of the institution changes toward one of internal benefit in direct proportion to the distance from privatization.

  32. Gerardo McFitzpatrick-O'Toole

    "...maximise revenue rather than maintain quality. Enders..."

    What an unfortunate juxtaposition.

    To me it seems the vast majority of BBC programming aimed at adults has for some time been designed to maximise ratings (and therefore justify revenue) rather than educate, inform or provide access to culture which would otherwise be beyond people's reach (like world-class Opera, in my case). When the BBC does try to educate, it ends up providing entertainment, and when they attempt to provide inform people, it tends to shallow and carry a predictable bias in one of several areas. If I felt that Live TV was something that I needed in my life, and that various forms of IPTV weren't superior in almost every way, then I might, if I had the choice, subscribe to one or two of the BBC's channels, but I find that the vast majority of their output is about as good an investment of my time as watching Eastenders is.

  33. nuclearstar

    I must admit I watch a lot of BBC. I love the nature and science programs, I like the comedy, the Drama is extremely good. I actually dont watch ITV or channel 4 or any of the other non BBC Free to air packages. I have Virgin TV but I dont even watch that anymore. I think I am going to get rid of that soon.

    I probably would pay for BBC, as long as they didnt put adds on there, if they put adds on then well, I will just get my content from the interwebs

  34. teebie

    Missing the point

    The point of the BBC isn't to enrich itself, it's to provide quality TV.

  35. Skrrp
    Thumb Up

    Pay by content

    I would happily pay for full access to News 24, Radio 4 and F1 if I could drop the blanket license fee and not fund the crap that the rest of the channels produce.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Pay by content

      And what if you are the only one who thinks those three things are worth watching/listening to? How much are you prepared to pay for you choice of "niche"?

      1. Skrrp

        Re: Pay by content

        What I mean is that I don't want to pay for costume dramas, children's shows, singing shows or cooking as part of my BBC license. The things I do want to pay for are news - which has mass appeal - decent satire which has acceptable appeal and motor racing that I'm prepared to pay for on a niche interest basis.

        And who are the twunts who downvoted me? You think it is correct for the government to force me to pay for the making of Pride and Prejudice that I don't watch just because you like it?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Pay by content

          "And who are the twunts who downvoted me?"

          Why should my licence fee pay for motor racing that I never watch? I quite enjoyed Pride and Prejudice.

          Have you got the point yet?

  36. Mage Silver badge

    Collection cost and access

    Read what Greg Dyke said about viewing cards when BBC planned to leave Solus Card scheme and go FTA.

    HOW do you have Subscription model? No FTA tuners. But DTT & Sat boxes and TVs and PVRs with a COMPATIBLE card reader (CAM). The Card company takes a big wack, the more secure from piracy the system is the more costly.

    Ofcom of course want to have only Cable and Satellite and prefer purely commercial entitiies. It would suit Ofcom.

  37. Scott Broukell
    Meh

    Riches

    The BBC and our culture would be a lot richer if the BBC simply stuck to what it is good at, namely; Current Affairs, News, Documentaries, Investigative Journalism, Consumer Programs and some off-the-wall Comedy / Satire. I'm sure it could easily achieve that on the pittance we license payers cough up. Leave the glitzy-fashion-pop-cookery-drama drivel to the other channels (there are certainly enough of them) - see, massive saving there already. I'm an avid World Service fan cos it broadens my, some would say limited, intellectual horizons and gives me a better understanding of the world (not just my tiny corner) - so get rid of the pop-tart-talk-radio-local-fone-in garbage while your at please.

    >Rant Over .... nurse...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who are these people who would willingly pay more?

    40% would pay double? I question their sanity....that'd be £25 p/m, for channels that are effectively filled with property porn to promote the Buy To Let portfolio's of bbc employees or something masquerading as news which is so dumbed down that it's unwatchable. Apart from a few excellent shows like Dr Who and Sherlock, and the two decent quiz's University Challenge and Only Connect there's nothing on there I watch. I wouldn't pay the current license fee for it if it was extorted from me for having the audacity to have an aerial input.

    As someone else said, Netflix is £5.99 p/m, and I can watch those few worthwhile shows after a time on that anyway at the mo. The remainder is basically sport anyway, and decent docco's are covered by National Geographic.

    Go subscription, please. I'll not be paying.

    1. Roger Varley

      Re: Who are these people who would willingly pay more?

      If the BBC moved to a subscription based service and expanded the scope to include the ex-pat community, they'd probably be awash with subscribers and no-one would need to pay x2 or x3

  39. Chris Miller

    Two thoughts:

    People who are currently paying £30, £60 or more per month for cable are doing so for (newish) movies and sports packages. Not many shell out just for the Sky offerings that 'compete' with free-to-air (drama, documentaries etc).

    If the BBC became a subscription service, they'd obviously have to make iPlayer subscription-only as well. This has been proposed before to stop overseas 'viewers' who don't pay the licence fee from accessing it.

    1. Welshbiker

      Chris Miller - Two Thoughts:

      They can't, iPlayer is already restricted to UK IP's only.

  40. Richard Lloyd

    Freeview (HD) was last chance to intro subs

    I was always surprised that smart card-capable hardware wasn't a pre-requisite for Freeview SD (and later on Freeview HD) set-top boxes. It was the last time that the concept of a subscription BBC could have been put in place.

    Assuming that the BBC is still going to be delivered via terrestrial aerials, then surely every TV and set-top box in the country is going to have to be replaced with a smart card version? This probably means around 10-odd years before subscriptions could be introduced.

    As far as I'm concerned, the current BBC output is mostly dire, having copycatted much of ITV's dross output in recent years. What I'd be *far* more interested in is a sub to the massive BBC archive that their employees have access to - now that is something worth subscribing to since much of it isn't available elsewhere (legally or not).

    1. Timbo

      Re: Freeview (HD) was last chance to intro subs

      "What I'd be *far* more interested in is a sub to the massive BBC archive that their employees have access to - now that is something worth subscribing to since much of it isn't available elsewhere (legally or not)."

      Point 1) There's a lot of old BBC stuff on Dave

      Point 2) Anything else worth watching from the BBC archive is probably available to buy on DVD - so Auntie gets extra income even though most of us paid the TV licence fee in the first place to get it made originally.

      Speaking of which: It's a shame that £100m was spent on the DMI dept....I wonder what they actually did with all that money ?? Did they actually digitise ANY of the archive ?.....or did they just have power lunches with all the luvvies thinking about how good it would be ?

  41. A J Stiles

    They missed a trick

    If smartcard readers had been mandated for all digital TV receivers from the outset, then the BBC could have scrambled all their programmes and gone to a "no payment, no programmes" system -- all achieved without the need for the bully-boy enforcement tactics and poison-pen letters that turn people off the TV licence system.

    It would have meant a switch from per-address licencing to per-receiver, but as long as it was possible to swap viewing cards around between TVs / recorders (like you could with the old analogue Sky cards -- very handy if you had the movie channels but your neighbours had the sports channels) this need not have been too bad.

    1. Timbo

      Re: They missed a trick

      "If smartcard readers had been mandated for all digital TV receivers from the outset, then the BBC could have scrambled all their programmes and gone to a "no payment, no programmes" system -- all achieved without the need for the bully-boy enforcement tactics and poison-pen letters that turn people off the TV licence system."

      I think the problem was that once it was announced that analogue TV was going to be switched off, there was already a few set top boxes available that had CAM slots - but these were quite expensive.

      And at the time, CAM was going out of fashion, due to the failure of OnDigital/ITV Digital. So, it was simple for manufacturers to drop the CAM function and then the STB's were cheaper to buy, which then suited OFCOM as the move to get more people to switch to digital was easier.

      (Of course in the meantime, TV technology improvements had meant we were going to replace all our old CRT's with flat-screens, some of which had CAM slots in them anyways).

      Overall, I'm of the opinion that receiving TV broadcasts "OTA" will soon become a thing of the past as more and more TV's will have Ethernet and/or wifi built in, so watching LIVE TV will be replaced with time-shifted viewing, via PVR's or through the likes of iPlayer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They missed a trick

      Mr S - a long time ago, you suggested taxation based on an equation of the form

      y = a * x ** 2 + b * x + c

      Is that a Stiles original? If not, who should I cite if I want to stick it into an academic discussion paper? (AC but if the Mods can arrange a way for us to communicate offline I'd be more than happy to offer an email address...)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As long as I can vote with my subscription I am all for getting rid of "Dancing pointless" and "I haven't got a voice" kind of rubbish! Apart from BBC 4, I won't miss a thing on BBC!

    BBC used to educate not just 'entertain'. Now is just in a competition of how much brainless they can make a show. That includes Horizon, sadly :(

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of ways to make money

    For exmple, the Beeb could follow the Sky Go model of making a limited iPlayer free, but allowing downloads to those who pay a small subscription. While we're at it, what about advertising? The BBC spends days on end, advertising itself, on those channels that don't provide proper content 24/7. Would someone like Sony jump at having a Sony show, that users could record in the middle of the night? Or a John Lewis hour? The way I see it, as long as they''re not putting adverts at 15 minute intervals into proper content (i.e. annoying me while I'm watching The Bridge), that's fine by me.

  44. KrisM

    umm...

    So 40% would pay double and 10% would pay treble, meaning 50% (of the remaining 80% that would keep it) would prefer to pay the same as now - how will that work? Will there be a 3 tier system for subscriptions, where you can pay more if you want? Answer, of course not, it would be a fixed price for all (not including any premium service, which I can't see being very popular), so as others have pointed out, they would effectively get 80% of the revenue they get now - hows that being better off? Presumably if you believe the figures, and they decided to price the subscription at slightly higher that current license fee, 50 % would be very happy as they would have happily paid more, but the other 50% would be unhappy and might say no, and thus % of population paying to watch BBC would go down further!

    Personally I'm happy(ish) to pay what I do currently - maybe trim a couple of channels and radio stations, keep the online and iPlayer content, and spend the extra money on better/more productions! (why oh why, is Sherlock only 3 episodes per series - fix that and I'll be very happy :))

  45. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    A man with many thumbs and many pies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Elstein

    Sounds like Elstein is telling people what he wants them to hear, clearly there's some money he can't currently access.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would, but then it would also have adverts.

  47. paul 97

    i'd pay - but how

    I love the BBC. The content they show most of the time is right up my street.

    My TV systems only work using Free to Air - I guess the subscription model would change this. So Im out.

  48. ez2x

    No bundling, thanks

    I would pay a subscription fee for (say) Radio 4 (or even all of BBC Radio) and BBC 2 and 4.

    But only if I could avoid subsidizing the crap dished out on BBC1 and 3 by only being able to get the channels I want in a "bundle" with other channels, like on satellite or subscription tv.

  49. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I'd pay, however...

    I don't want to pay for the conditional access system which, in case of the BBC, would probably cost a decent part of those 11 pounds. Such systems are expensive.

    Furthermore I see television as a public medium. I pay so everyone can see it. Even and particularly those who cannot or will not afford it. The BBC somehow managed to stay this wonderful micro-cosmos of good programming by far superior to German public TV for example. (Unless you like Sports of which German TV is full off)

  50. Defiant

    Rubbish

    "David Elstein, a strong proponent of the subscriptions, told MPs that between 10 to 20 per cent of licence fee payers would not subscribe - but most people would, and many would pay more."

    (Censored)'s

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If its not broken why fix it?

    One of the best things about blighty is its TV (still). The BBC forces all other broadcasters to continually up their game. As pointed out £11 a month is great value for what you get when you compare it to Sky etc. Why anyone subscribes to them (even footy fans - have you not heard of certain sites offering free live streaming?) is beyond me.

    If Elstein could point to another country where the TV is so much better with no public service like the Beeb he would have a point - but he can't. The classic American TV- Braking Bad etc - I can watch on DVD - much better too without the evident continuous advert breaks the poor yanks who watch in on HBO have to endure.....

  52. OldPalmFan
    Stop

    Yesteryear's model

    For me the substantive point in this debate is that it seems a complete anachronism that in 2013 one has to pay a tax to the government to watch (live) TV. I'm sure the model was sensible in the early days of television when it was all new and exciting but, really, in 2013?

    In fact I would suggest that if the model didn't exist and the government tried to introduce it would be a complete non-starter Just imagine the debate: 'there are tens of TV channels out there, some free and some that you have decided to pay to watch, but we have just decided that if you want to watch any of them then you have to pay a tax that then only goes to just one of them that you might not ever watch or listen to'. How many votes would that get?

    So for me the issue is when will the BBC move to the model that I pay if I choose to watch (listen) to it, and I don't pay if I don't want to. Those who want the BBC will pay. If there are not enough of them then the BBC will cease to exist. Are there really any substantive arguments in this day and age for maintaining a state-funded televisual service?

    And as a parting thought, who really believes the idea that the idea that the BBC is 'independent' when it is funded by the Government?

  53. Sean Houlihane

    The BBC gets none of my money. Regardless of the cost of the alternatives (currently nil, unless you count CD, game and ebook purchases)

  54. Julian Bond
    Trollface

    I'd happily pay a small increase in my Virgin Cable sub instead of the license fee to have access to BBC (including BBC America please).

    And Virgin is about to apply a small increase to their sub.

    So that's done then. Next?

  55. Cavillas

    I would not subscribe to BBC

  56. Zot

    I would be perfectly fine without the BBC.

    I mean it's not like it's an Earth shattering change in life! : D

    Beside, I have the full Sky package, why would I want to spend £145 extra for the BBC channels, it doesn't seem right, especially as I don't really watch them much.

    The BBC news has become like a magazine, where RT and others provide far better information about World news.

    And what about the radio stations? Will they have adverts on them? I'd like to see how that works if not.

  57. t20racerman
    Unhappy

    I would drop the b****y BBC at the first opportunity. Biased, PC, mostly rubbish output that mirrors commercial channels.

    If you disagree with my assessment of the BBC, that's great, that's choice - ie something we don't currently have with the licensing system that FORCES me to pay the BBC so that I can watch Sky Sports and Sky News.

    You want it? You pay? I don't want it but I still have to pay! I like the Daily Telegraph, but that shouldn't mean everyone has to buy a bl***y copy if they fancy reading another paper or a magazine.

  58. airbrush

    Oh dear

    Hey let's just sell it all to the Germans. Or the French. I guess that's what Margaret Thatcher meant when she made Britain 'Great' again. Lions and donkeys comes to mind. Pretty soon there will be no nation, sorry not sure where that came from.

  59. Andrew Jones 2

    Frankly - they can talk about it as much as they want - it just will not happen - how can it?

    The UK gov have spent all this time and money convincing people to move to Digital TV (specifically Freeview), now while I admit that there are DVB-T devices out there capable of accepting a viewing card - the vast majority of them are not equipped to do so, even the latest smart TVs don't tend to have a CAM slot these days because TopupTV (the only pay TV service available on DVB-T) has moved to a different model whereby you buy a TopupTV PVR and it downloads content overnight.

    The BBC and the UK gov would risk pissing people off if they change the goalposts now.

  60. Loverofpies

    I hate the bbc

    I have put in a foi asking for the details of the modelling

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC send goons to your house to harass you if you don't have a TV license. They sent constant threat letters about fines and legal action. If you ever contact them to say you don't need a license (to try and stop the harassment) they reply with "that's what you would say... cya in court".

    Sooner they go subscription the better.

    Same story for BT and their requirement for you to have telephone service before you can get broadband, blatant theft.

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      It's not that bad - it's (goon visit) only happened to me once in about 4 years; I just said I didn't need a licence and when he asked if I had a TV, I repeated myself, then shut the window (it didn't seem to be worth a trip to the door).

      The letters go in the bin, only opened if I get curious about how shrill and overblown they've become.

      (Non-live) iPlayer is perfectly legal without a licence, and I make good use of it. The current situation suits me perfectly.

  62. Adrian Midgley 1

    Binds society

    The BBC is part of what holds society together.

    The cheapest way to fund it is through direct taxation.

    The disadvantage of that is that it makes politicians intermediaries.

    Capita are well-worth losing.

  63. Christoph Silver badge
    Flame

    Not every household

    "Because the fee is levied on every household"

    No. It's on every household that has a television.

    The best bit of this change is if it stops them sending people to bang on my door and accuse me of being a criminal, and sending endless insulting letters. Because they are so hopelessly incompetent that they cannot grasp the idea that there are many people in this country who DO NOT HAVE A TELEVISION.

    I don't have a television. I don't want a television. I don't have time to watch a television. There's practically nothing on television that interests me.

    Yet they keep sending me letters with the envelope marked "immediate action required". Some dodgy salesman trying repeatedly to sell me a service that I have made it clear I do not want has no right whatsoever to 'demand' action from me. The only action they get is the letter straight into the recycling, unopened.

    And the ones who bang on my door get told to get off my property.

    But they still keep coming over and over.

    Roll on the abolition of the licence fee!

    1. teebie

      Re: Not every household

      Write to them and tell them you are removing the implied right of access. It won't stop the letters, but should stop the visits

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Truely BBC employees have nothing better to do..

    ..than come on theregister and mark down any ingrate who does not understand that we exist purely to provide a living for our betters?

    Problems with the BBC and its funding model

    1. Harassment tactics employed to extort funding

    2. Compulsory registration of UK TV buyers

    3. State funded strangle hold on broadcast media in the UK

    4. Staffed and controlled by minority groups with their own agendas (don't write me off as racist there are other minority groups)

    4. Lack of impartiality and associated political influencing (see point 4)

    6. No longer a datum for English Language speaking (RIP Kenneth Kendall )

    7. Undue influence on UK culture ( sell your house TV link to current economic problems )

    8. BBC content paid for by UK residents free to the rest of the world

    Benefits

    1. Sherlock ( not seen it but check out Basil Rathbone's career, actors had to work in those days http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001651/ )

    Here is the truth, if the BBC lost the right to force every home to buy a TV license they would go broke virtually overnight. I have a TV license and a PVR but aside from occasional films ( I could have watched on the internet ) my home has not recorded or watched anything on the BBC for years, I have been paying for a service that given the choice would not use because if I don't then I harnessed via mail and "visits". Add on the 1 in 10 cost to the legal system and then the BBC seems far to expensive for the occasional Sherlock.

    The BBC is just another self serving group who have the right to tax UK residents and give very little in return. When computers relied upon audio cassettes for secondary storage I paid the music industry a tax on every tape purchased, the BBC is just one more state condoned drain on society they we really could do without.

    I say cut them loose and see how they survive having to work for a living, if they work like Basil then they wont have a problem.

  65. Idocrase

    Shut the BBC down, sell the assets to whoever wants them, refund the tax-payers what they've been extorted out of.

    We don't need the BBC. If you think the BBC is the 'most wholesome' broadcaster for your children, then don't let your children watch TV. Teach them to read, or ride a bike, play outside, or heaven forbid, spend time with them as a parent instead of relying on TV to keep them quiet.

    I deeply resent paying for a service I do not use and never intend to use. We don't even watch freeview, the ariel is not connected, my TV does not receive ANY channels over the air. And yet, because I own a decoder, I _must_ under UK law have a TV license?

    Bollocks to that.

    My TV is there to display content from DVD's, bluerays and computer games. *IF* there is something worth watching on some channel, guess what? It gets streamed. And no, not from iPlayer.

    The News services are politically biased, the documentaries socially biased, the nature shows are 40 year old repeats that they used to show in Geography classes in school, and from what I can see, everything else is either about boring people in east london, or boring people in period costume.

    The only things I might consider paying for (as in box-sets or one-off purchases) are Doctor Who and Top Gear. And really, those should be allowed to die anyway. The world would not be a worse off place without them.

    If they want to go to ad-based then sure, that's cool, I don't mind. The running time of an advert break is around the length of time required to get a fresh cup of tea.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      FAIL

      "And yet, because I own a decoder, I _must_ under UK law have a TV license?"

      No. You are wrong. If you are paying for a TV license then you are wasting money. Unless, of course, you are just a shill for the anti-license brigade, which is fine so long as you use truth in your arguments rather than FUD type lies.

      http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=598313

      Also see the FAQ at http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk

  66. Mike Banahan

    Might be a blessing

    I love some of what the BBC does but find that love getting harder and harder to deliver when I look at what's happening to its output. So much that they could do that they don't, as well, particularly their almost complete abnegation of quality educational TV (where is the broadcast backup to the National Curriculum, for example?).

    However - having lived in countries with utterly shit tv, it's interesting to observer that there's often a vibrant culture as a result: people going out in the evening and meeting each other, talking, forming clubs and societies, doing stuff together. If that was the result of the disappearance of the BBC and then a rush-to-the-bottom by the commercial broadcasters, then maybe in the long run it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People still pay?

    More fool them.

  68. CmdrX3

    Not me

    I would drop them like a stack of ***, which I also intend on doing with Sky when the contract is up in April. BBC F1 coverage is crap now and I'm f***** if I'd pay voluntarily just to see Top Gear and Dr Who for a year. I really only got Sky HD in to watch the F1 and quite frankly it wasn't worth the years lock in. Besides I think with their new HD plan, they will probably drop the legacy HD package. So all in all subscription TV in general sucks b****.

  69. AgeingBabyBoomer

    State broadcaster needs to be in as many homes as possible

    The BBC is the state broadcaster and responsible for pro-state

    programming and generally keeping the oiks passive and happy.

    Money is not the issue, maximising the number of eyeballs is.

    I cancelled my llcense and it was the most liberating thing I did.

    I still watch stuff on iPlayer - very little - two hours a week maximum.

    When you have to stop and think about the output you want to see, it

    is amazing how little of it is actually desirable.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The current model is bust

    I live in the antipodes, I can watch the BBC, et al, for free via VPN

    (Yes, net access and VPN access cost money)

    I think a subscription model might be better at blocking us geo-pirates.

  71. gfx

    fta

    You should be happy with the BBC :)

    In the Netherlands we used to have a TV license (every household had to pay) but that's changed to an income tax increase of 1.1% So now only working people pay for 3 channels of advertisement riddled (not during the shows but around it) left wing propaganda. Which is not FTA so you'll also have to pay a cable or satellite company to view it and buy an expensive card/decoder.

    There is some FTA but DVB-T only, so low bitrate crappy quality stuff.

    We watch the BBC / ITV / C4 channels on FTA satellite and really like it, not everything of course, but enough to stop watching dutch tv.

  72. Alan Denman

    50% at twice the price

    Some will go without.

    Some will go BT only.

    Some will go Sky only.

    Therefore at a positive 50% takeup, those buying will have to pay near £300 for the same service.

  73. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Three Luvvies

    Elstein was the original chief exec for Channel 5, ran programming for BSkyB and Thames, though started his career at the BBC as a producer/director; he also has a variety of non-media business interests. Steve Hewlett has a background in factual programming at the BBC and Channel 4 and although he presents a programme on Radio 4, is mainly occupied elsewhere as a columnist for the Guardian as well as being a visiting professor at Salford. Claire Enders was Director of Corporate Development for Thorn EMI and TVS as well as heading up business development for Virgin and now runs a media/telecomms analysis business. I don't think that qualifies any of them as "luvvies".

    Admittedly, they all now pontificate for money, but the correct term for that is "hack".

  74. phil dude
    Holmes

    size does matter..

    It depends on your point of view but it does matter how big an institution is, to gauge its influence.

    From my humble and very personal opinion, it is simply not possible to have a public broadcaster with direct subscriptions. You see, the problem is , anytime there is a revenue stream that is correlated with the time-scale of government, the government will try and "affect" it.

    For those of you who say you could do without the BBC, I will remind you that it keeps the cost of your non-BBC services down. It does for everyone in the UK. Just look at sport. It is only because Sky doesn't make any programs it can offer ludicrous amounts of money to effectively gain a monopoly. IF someone knows the actual numbers....

    In the USA you can see where "subscription" gets you. Massive diversity but very dilute content.

    Even the free-to-air networks in the US (ABC,CBS,NBC) are stopping streaming without a "subscription". See? Revenue streams cannot be ignored.

    I'll wager the subscription BBC balloon is nothing more than a way for some of the grubby MPs and their "donors" to get a piece of the media pie.

    P.

  75. graeme leggett

    not the full picture

    Wouldn't the transition costs wipe out any benefits for a year or more?

  76. bigtimehustler

    This is rubbish, I can't believe people paying 30+ for sky are also going to subscribe to the BBC and a comparison between them is nonsense, they both provide different types of channels.

  77. SVV Silver badge

    Please tell me Murdoch hasn't bought El Reg........

    "The former Sky exec......"

    So, a massively predictable anti BBC ranting from a Murdoch shill advancing his master's wish to destroy the best thing about the UK media so that he can profit even more .......

    Did this "idea" need such lengthy reporting, seeing as all the right wing media in this country carry exremely regular and predictable anti-BBC stories as a matter of policy? It's obvious that this would be a first step towards privatisation, leaving us with a much more impoverished choice of viewing and listening.

    Who else would have made the gloriously bonkers new Vic and Bob sitcom that has just started and had me in tears of laughter, after switching over from an evening's high class music on Radio 6?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: SVV

      "Please tell me Murdoch hasn't bought El Reg"

      Not sure if rhetorical or not. But anyway, answer is: no.

      C.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Mark Eaton-Park

      Re: Please tell me Murdoch hasn't bought El Reg........

      No it is simply that many people posting -ve against individuals who have expressed personal opinions believe that like the license fee they shouldn't be allowed not to love the BBC.

      From reading these posts it is clear to me that there are people who feel that the BBC does not serve them and many feel oppressed by the same body that is purportedly providing a tailored service.

      If the BBC is so deaf to their audience then why should they expect to be heard in their time of need.

      Many don't want the service and the problem is how the BBC and its agents deal with this, rather than finding out why they ignore their customers I assume because they care little for what thei rcustomers say.

      The BBC like all the -ve posters to do not respect an individual's right to choose or have an opinion different to theirs and instead do a church of Scientology on thereg.

  78. NomNomNom

    STOP LOOKING AT SCREENS

    You spend your life with eyes glued to a screen. The problem is not specific to the BBC, or even TV but any form of screen including those screens on watches and mobile phones.

    I stopped looking at screens 6 years ago and never looked back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STOP LOOKING AT SCREENS

      'I stopped looking at screens 6 years ago and never looked back.'

      Errr...

  79. cageordie

    I live in the western US, if I could get full access to the BBC by paying a subscription the equivalent of the license fee, or even a fair bit more, I'd do it. US TV is drivel.

    Sadly I think making the BBC commercial would send it where the US TV channels have already arrived, whatever it takes to make a buck for minimal cost.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Cageordie

      "US TV is drivel."

      Judging by my Xfinity cable package, I'm minded to agree. There's fun stuff on the Food Network, because I like cooking, and there's comedy like Community scattered all over the schedules, but in general – and with adverts every 10mins it seems – it's best to turn off, tune out and drop everything to go outside.

      C.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unsubscribed

    Lucky if I watch 1 hour of BBC and never listen to their radio stations, so the £11 I save on BBC tax, I can get BT Sports !

  81. Roj Blake Silver badge

    A former Sky executive is the last person I'd ask about the best interests of the BBC.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the courts...

    A friend who is a magistrate had a grown man in tears of gratitude in her court when he realised that he wasn't going to go to prison for a TV licence offence.

    He was a migrant worker from eastern europe who didn't understand the UK's unusual system of funding public broadcasting, and had been previously taken to court for not having a licence. Not unnaturally he was bemused by the whole business but dutifully paid his fine by installments, thinking that it also covered the licence fee.

    So the nice people at Capita got him back before the magistrates as a wicked recidivist for whom only jail would be appropriate.

    Luckily the bench saw things differently, made sure that the defendent was properly informed of the situation and his obligations and slung the case out.

    It doesn't seem to be a good use of court time, and the whole process was very oppressive to an honest working chap.

    (Anon because my magistrate friend should remain anon as well.)

  83. Hans 1 Silver badge

    WTF

    A lot of people pay the fee monthly because they have to. Quite a few households could not afford 22 quid a month, let alone 33.

    Why don't the BBC offer a separate set of sports channels to air sporting events with a subscription. Shit, with DSL and little set-top-box, they could air all premier league/1st division games, to your sofa, live.

    Sell those set-top-boxes abroad as well for a subscription, I am sure the British/Irish pubs around the world would buy into that, for a start.

    Don't get me wrong, the last fella who saw me actively watch a sports channel is not young, but apparently, a lot enjoy watching 22 prima donnas run after a ball, dive as soon as a shirt is pulled, or leave the pitch on a stretcher because of a broken finger nail.

    As my pal Horst always says: Fussball ist ein Frauenspiel.

  84. Big_Boomer Bronze badge

    Top Gear, QI, Mock the Week, Horizon,......

    None of these would get made if the BBC were "subscription" based. Top Gear would never have gotten approval as too controversial for subscribers, QI would be seen as too "high-brow", Mock the Week would be the most likely to be made but even there just 30 complaints about Frankies comments in the 1st few shows and it would get canned. Horizon would never have a hope as the "subscribers" would rather have all the money spent on Downton Abbey, Strictly and EastEnders.

    Look around the world. Is there a company or organisation ANYWHERE in the world that creates/commissions the variety, quality and quantity of programming that the BBC produces? I've never seen anything that even comes close in my 50 years of travelling the world.

    Mess with the BBC and you will throw it down the toilet. Yeah, it's not perfect but it is so much better than everything else out there, why risk breaking it?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Top Gear, QI, Mock the Week, Horizon,......

      @ Big_Boomer

      "Top Gear would never have gotten approval as too controversial for subscribers, QI would be seen as too "high-brow", Mock the Week would be the most likely to be made but even there just 30 complaints about Frankies comments in the 1st few shows and it would get canned. Horizon would never have a hope as the "subscribers" would rather have all the money spent on Downton Abbey, Strictly and EastEnders."

      This is an interesting statement. So you say that the enforced tax route (currently used) means that the BBC will create outrageous shows that are so offensive nobody would pay for them? And of course horizon which you say people would prefer to watch other shows. I myself like some of those shows and have no interest in others, but you are saying people should be forced to pay (as they are) because then things people dont want to watch will be made.

      So since there are a lot of gamers in this country we could apply the same for that. A singular company which creates a broad spectrum of games so niche that some people dont ever play any of them. And if you have any game playing device (PC, console, phone) then you must pay the 'subscription' and if you say you dont need one you get threatening letters telling you that you are under serious investigation and will be prosecuted with the largest fine they can get away with just because you want to play everyone elses games.

      I have little use for the BBC myself but dont care if others enjoy it. I find their news to be so badly biased that in some cases I have to completely disregard them as news. But when I paid my sky subscription and watched various channels, not one of them the BBC, I had to pay for everything I dont want (the BBC). I find myself looking through the BBC shows to find something, anything I might be interested in so I can get at least some value out of having to pay them. Now we are considering if we watch enough live TV to justify having a TV license. Or if we will leave it when it expires.

    2. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Top Gear, QI, Mock the Week, Horizon,......

      Horizon hasn't really been Horizon for some time.

      A faded photocopy of it's old self.

      Mock the Week hasn't been the same since Frankie left.

      QI is getting a bit long in the tooth as well.

      As for Top Gear, the joke wore thin long ago.

  85. Sheep!
    Stop

    It doesn't matter one jot whether the BBC produces the best programmes in the world or utter crap, what matters is everyone is being forced to pay for it whether they watch it or not. That is unfair and a tax (and an unfair tax as it isn't proportional). If you make it subscription those who want (and can afford) to pay will, those who don't won't end up being dragged through the court and fined £1000 to add to the woes that are often preventing them paying in the first place. This is simple common bloody sense!

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Learn from history or be doomed...

    I remember similar arguments being used all those years ago for privatisation and look where that led.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    likewise NHS...

    Armed Forces, education, and all other "state" services. I'm all for it, as long as ALL taxes (including VAT and other hidden ones, such as maintaining the honorable gentlemen by the river) go down to ZERO.

  88. Colin 29

    Fairer?

    "Various alternatives were discussed, including a Scandinavian model where public service TV is paid for via personal income tax rather than a "poll tax" flat fee - a fairer arrangement, since the richer pay more"

    How is paying different amounts for the same content fairer?

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Fairer?

      "How is paying different amounts for the same content fairer?"

      Well it seems to work OK for the NHS, Social Security, education.

      People in higher tax brackets don't get any different treatment in hospital to that received by people on the dole. If they find themselves unemployed, they don't go onto a higher benefit rate, or get a little private waiting room at the JobCentre where they can read the FT without being bothered by men with small dogs on string.

      If the BBC is a public service (and to my mind that's exactly what it is), then why not fund it from an income tax? Surely that removes the argument that poor people are forced to pay for something they don't want to watch that we constantly hear from the anti BBC (sorry, anti TV tax) crowd?

  89. jason 7 Silver badge

    I get quite tired of all the arguing over funding.

    Funding for the NHS, schools, armed forces, BBC etc. etc.

    The truth is...ALL of them get more than enough money. They are all generously funded, in fact possibly more then they need to be.

    The real problem is that those in charge of them are notoriously crap at spending the funds properly and efficiently.

    What we need to do is strive to make those in charge of the purse strings treat the money as though it was theirs rather than 'just tax payers money'*.

    I'm sure all the local council authorities could have still provided all the local services with a 20%+ reduction of funds had they got smarter and more efficient, but that takes effort and intelligence. Much easier to just shut the playgroups, toilets and libraries and blame someone else.

    * Fully aware that the BBC isn't funded by 'HMRC taxes' as such but still falls in the same category.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Okay so in the event that the license goes then..

    1. The BBC owns lots of content the UK license pay shelled out for, they wont go bust over night

    2. The BBC gets money from other sources as well as the license again this wont disappear

    3. The BBC can stop paying Capita (whom everyone hates) and use that money to improve their content (ofc they wont it will be given to the lads as the channel fails)

    4. The content makers responsible for the BBC's fall have to start earning a living no more free lunch

    5. People can choose what if anything they want to watch on TV without being charged to keep the Old School boys in a job

    6. There is no longer a free UK mouthpiece for politicians but some form of disaster channel would need to be created but that would be cheap, The US already have this and it doesn't need actors

    7. People who decide not to bother with broadcast media at all can live a fuller life

    I say privatise it but remove the license and retain the rights to the existing content after all we paid for it, TV is dead so let SKY or whomever control it and they can rent our content if they like

    1. Vic

      Re: Okay so in the event that the license goes then..

      > The BBC owns lots of content the UK license pay shelled out for

      Very little modern stuff, actually.

      Most programnmes are now produced by independent companies, with some rights sold to the BBC. That means the coprights generally don't belong to the BBC, so what they can do is somewhat limited...

      Vic.

  91. Grumpy70

    Over 75?

    And what about people like me who now get a free licence each year because of our great age (over 75) when we are supposed to be only capable of sitting in front of the TV or radio each day?

  92. Mark Eaton-Park

    As to I player, every license payers gets a license not exactly hard to make them log in with their credentials to watch via the internet and sell access to international viewers. Yes UK license payers could sell the service on but they do this already via VPN servers in the UK and they cant be bothered to lock this down. The IP addresses of VPN servers must be really difficult to block but then again the BBC have a captive audience so why would they bother collecting cash from international viewers

    Its all lies, the BBC want their hand in your pocket and treat you as a criminal if you wont subscribe.

    The BBC inhouse content just isn't that good and certainly not good value for money, I personally would rate channel 4's own content over everything I have seen on the BBC for years and they only get a fraction of the license fee.

  93. Chris Reynolds

    Aussies think British TV is the BBC

    I've not read all 192 previous comments, so sorry if this is a repeat.

    I live in Australia and many associate all British TV with the BBC. Although the FTTH national broadband network has been stalled by Ruper Murdoch the new conservative government, the streaming market is probably still open.

    If the BBC could become an aggregator of British TV content, their brand could have the power to be THE place to go to to stream All British TV. Let the broadcast channels continue to buy the rights to broadcast via DVB, but keep streaming rights for themselves. Build good apps for all platforms and set a price that Hat Trick, Channel 4 and the other British producers can't turn down.

    The only snag might be BSkyB and their parent company.

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Aussies think British TV is the BBC

      "If the BBC could become an aggregator of British TV content, their brand could have the power to be THE place to go to to stream All British TV"

      I thought they were already doing that as 100% owners of UKTV Australia. Although their programming seems to be mostly BBC, with a smattering of Talkback Thames and ITV thrown in for good measure.

      They also run BBC Knowledge remember, which to my mind comes out consistently ahead of NatGeo and Discovery when you're looking for depth.

  94. Darren Forster

    Of course the BBC would be better off...

    Of course the BBC would be better off on a subscription basis.

    It doesn't take all this debating to figure that one out. Sky are rolling in it and what the BBC offer is very cheap in comparison with Sky.

    On Sky TV you pay a subscription fee which is at least double the amount of the BBC, and not only that Sky are being paid by you for their channels, and also they get money from the adverts, and if that's not enough they then ask some companies to "SPONSOR" their shows - so if most of their shows are "sponsored" by companies what does our subscription fee pay for - even the premium channels like the Movies tend to be sponsored - usually by "Panasonic".

    I know what your thinking £40 a month for all those TV shows isn't that much considering how much it costs Sky to secure those TV shows and that is possibly why they need advertising, but that is £40 per person that's subscribing, now as of 30th June 2013 Sky had 10,459,000 subscribers - 4,893,000 are paying the HD premium. Sky packages start at £21.50 (source: http://corporate.sky.com/media/key_facts_and_figures).

    So let's figure this out then - to make it simple we'll base it on the fact that all HD subscribers are on the basic package (£21.50+£10 HD) and the rest are all on the basic package then Sky must be being paid £203,719.12 for every 30 minutes of TV just from subscribers (and that's only based on everyone subscribing to the lowest option), and that's before taking into account money from sponsorship or advertising.

    Now in the whole UK there is 26,414,000 households (Source: ONS.gov.uk). I couldn't find out the exact number of TV licences because the FOI section of TV licencing doesn't seem to be loading for some reason (possibly more my end than their end). So if we assume every single household in the UK has a TV and a licence (I know they don't but let's just assume that it's easier) and they're all paying the £145.50 per year for a TV licence, then that means the BBC is only getting £238,295.94 for every 30 minutes of TV, and they don't get any money from sponsors or advertisements, and they're serving over 60% more customers than Sky (and they don't show as many repeats as Sky either!)

    So in total it would be far better for the BBC to go subscription based and be allowed to show adverts and sponsors.

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