back to article SCRAP the TELLY TAX? Ancient BBC Time Lords mull Beeb's future

It was as good as anything on the telly. Four past BBC chiefs were giving MPs their opinions at Westminster. The Commons media select committee is running an enquiry into the future of the BBC, looking at how it should be governed, and as technology and habits change, whether should there even be a per-household fee levied on …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room."

    Future?

    1. jacobbe

      "A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room"....

      "He feared that the BBC go downmarket and start chasing audiences"....

      Does he not watch his own channel output?

      1. Matt 21

        While I agree with your point I would suggest that keeping the BBC funded in the way it is gives it the ability (under the right management) to go back up-market.

        In effect it acts as a counterfoil to commercial television and prevent commercial television from degrading to the level seen in countries like the US. In other words ITV, for example, can't follow the US model too far as people would stop watching because the BBC provides an alternative.

        Obviously we need to stop the BBC distorting the market too much and we need the BBC to up it's game (less celeb cooking shows and removing sections of the Winter Olympics coverage which seem to have been pitched at the worst of 11 year old school girl level).

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          @Matt 21

          Basically what I was going to say. The BBC should stop funding race-to-the-bottom programmes aimed to compete with the brain-dead drivel on ITV, and go back to producing stuff that actually challenges the viewer to think. These days, I never voluntarily watch BBC1 (though Mrs IP likes "Sherlock", for some unfathomable reason, and I tend to sit in the same room and get my own back by occasionally sticking my head up from the computer screen and asking what's happening ...) Left to my own devices for a while, the only time I have the TV on is for "University Challenge", a new episode of "Big Bang Theory", coverage of sport that interests me (WRC, F1, cycling), and some of the excellent documentaries on BBC4 (the one about British architects last night was brilliant, for instance, as are some of the music documentaries on at the weekend. Rather than getting rid of one of the BBC2/4 channels, I'd make them the backbone of an intelligent BBC aimed at people like me who would rather rip out someone's throat than watch a shitty talent contest or cooking show. Let ITV/Channel 5 deal with crap like that, whilst BBC caters for people that want to think and learn.

    2. shrdlu

      Yes future

      "A terrible vision of some distant future in which the BBC filled its schedules with cheap cooking shows and talent contests filled the room."

      Future?

      Believe me without the BBC the quality of TV programming would be vastly different. There would be no need for the commercial TV companies to produce anything as exciting as Masterchef. We wouldn't even be able to import better stuff from the US because the only think that keeps their dismal output viewable is the need to compete with BBC's exports. Without the BBC television quality around the world would be in freefall.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a News Operation

    "The most radical proposals came from Grade, who said the BBC should be cut back to a news operation and leave the cooking shows and talent shows to the private sector."

    It might be the most radical, but in my humblest opinion, is the most sensible.

    Alternatively, have you BBC News, BBC One and BBC Two paid by the state, but leave the other stuff to subscription basis (CBeebies, BBC Three, hell, even have BBC Film - everyone else is doing it).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a News Operation

      That would be Grade, scion of the Grade family who made their money (and got their titles out of being impressarios and agents and running commercial broadcasting.

      And who was accused of dumbing down Channel 4 when he was in charge?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a News Operation

        Channel Four was bloody good until Grade took over. It's been mostly dross ever since. The Channel that brought us Big Brother and for several hours every night for weeks on end, year in year out. Channel Four rivalled, if not exceeded BBC2 for intelligent, quality programming until that shitehawk got his grubby mitts on it.

        1. Mike Smith
          Pint

          Re: Just a News Operation

          "Channel Four was bloody good until Grade took over."

          That's about the time I gave up on the idiot lantern for good. These days, I only have it on to keep the kids quiet.

          Have an upvote and a pint for reminding me how good it used to be.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Grade

          He cancelled Doctor Who.

          I think that says a lot.

    2. Wyrdness

      Re: Just a News Operation

      So no more Dr Who, or other drama shows from the Beeb? Bollox to that.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: "Alternatively, have you BBC News, BBC One and BBC Two paid by the state,"

        Erm, BBC Two isn't anywhere near as good as it used to be on the limited channel model. They apparently moved the good stuff to other channels. Not sure where though.

      2. Steve Crook

        Re: Just a News Operation

        I'll reserve my judgement on the new doctor, but based on the last two, I wouldn't lose any sleep if Dr Who was returned to the crypt he was packed into post Sylvester M. In fact, if pushing a button to perma death all the modern Dr Who and Torchwood episodes meant we could recover the remaining missing Dr W episodes I'd do it in a flash.

      3. King Jack

        Re: Just a News Operation

        The BBC took Dr Who of the air for years. There were campaigns to get it back on air, but the BBC knows best so no Dr Who. What is one of BBC's top programs? Dr Who. The BBC are arrogant and should be reigned in so they stop treating the paying public with contempt. Let them discover what it's like to live in the real world where doing stupid things costs you money. As it is they do whatever they like.

        1. Tree 71

          Re: Just a News Operation

          Just remember who made that decision - a certain Mr Grade....

      4. Adam Foxton

        Re: Just a News Operation

        Oh come on, it's not like Top Gear, Doctor Who or Panorama have been about for any real length of time is it? They're just a flash in the pan!

        The BBC should be a lot more dynamic, turning out quality TV shows like The X Factor. Things that will stand the test of time and bring people together from all walks of life in admiration of... I'm sorry, I feel ill from all that sarcasm.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just a News Operation

        The last time I watched a decent Drama on BBC was Outcasts, and they cancelled that after 8 episodes.

      6. Ben Norris

        Re: Just a News Operation

        it would in fact mean more of those because those are the BBCs highest earning DVD and overseas brands!

    3. janimal

      Re: Just a News Operation

      well except for the fact that 90% of their news output is fecking terrible. Most of them have been converted to sofa chat shows and most of the rest just regurgitate PR statements rather than analyse, challenge or criticise. Only newsnight & question time, that I have noticed lately seem to challenge their guests.

      They still do some good drama, but I wish they would ditch the production crew who came up with Merlin & Atlantis - they should be lined up against a wall and shot.

      While you're at it grab the bastard who decided every show needs to give you a preview of what is about to happen, and then every five minutes remind you of what just happened and then at the end show you what will happen next week. Whoever you are please, please stop!

      Honestly I'd rather have adverts than that crap, although filling those useless segments with actual content would be better.

      Just my worthless, subjective opinion of course.

      1. helicoil

        Re: Just a News Operation

        You're too generous, all their news output is crap and lefty biased crap at that.

        I dumped my tv license because I didn't want to fund the left wing bolx that the bbc churn out and I'm quite looking forward to being doorstepped by the tvla.

      2. The Jon

        Re: Just a News Operation @janimal

        "While you're at it grab the bastard who decided every show needs to give you a preview of what is about to happen, and then every five minutes remind you of what just happened and then at the end show you what will happen next week. Whoever you are please, please stop!"

        You are aware that this is a method of turning 1 hours programming on the BBC into 1 hours programming on a commercial repeats channel by editing out the "coming up", "next week" and "previously" segments and replacing with 15 minutes advertising space, thus increasing resale revenue.

        Likewise, when did you ever see the "news" section in a repeat of Top Gear on Dave?

        1. Nicolas Barbulesco
          Stop

          Resale ?

          “You are aware that this is a method of turning 1 hours programming on the BBC into 1 hours programming on a commercial repeats channel by editing out the "coming up", "next week" and "previously" segments and replacing with 15 minutes advertising space, thus increasing resale revenue.”

          Well-spotted !

      3. Philip Lewis

        Re: Just a News Operation

        "While you're at it grab the bastard who decided every show needs to give you a preview of what is about to happen, and then every five minutes remind you of what just happened and then at the end show you what will happen next week. Whoever you are please, please stop!"

        It is the "Powerpoint Presentation Generation"

        1: Tell them what you are going to tell them

        2: Tell them

        3: Tell them what you told them

        This is the formula.

    4. LarsG

      Re: Just a News Operation

      Actually no, the BBC has become an increasingly leftwing socialist mouthpiece for the Guardian reading chattering classes, the news is barely balanced most of the time but always tilted against anything middle of the road or even slightly right of the middle.

      Proof; did anyone see that weak piece of work by Nick Robinson, touted as the definative 'the truth about immigration'?

      It was weak, wet and an apology of a program. Typical BBC politics.

      Having to fund themselves rather than be given tax payer money may well see a change of attitude.

      They cruise along happily filling their pockets with bonus and perks, privatisation might just get them to work for a living like the rest of us.

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Just a News Operation

        Left-wing bias? You do know that Nick Robinson used to be the chairman of the Young Conservatives, right?

    5. Trainee grumpy old ****
      Thumb Down

      Re: Just a News Operation

      As a child growing up in a far away land, the World Service brought us news and entertainment. Today it is, for all practical purposes, "news only". I doubt we would have listened as much to it then if it had been in the format it is now.

    6. Pete 2

      Re: Just a News Operation

      > leave the cooking shows and talent shows to the private sector.

      Best idea in a long time.

      The basic problem the independent channels have is the failure to attract an audience. Why is this? becaase every soddin' 20 minutes they interrupt the programmes and try to sell us anti-aging cream, no-win-no-fee lawyering and shampoo.

      The idea

      If ITV et. al. could run uninterrupted programmes of the same quality as the Beeb's they would attract far more viewers. But they can't, because all the TV tax money goes to one, single, dominant, broadcaster - which uses that dosh to show exactly the same sort of popular programmes that the independent channels rely on, could easily make and would earn them the income to make "quality" telly. if only the BBC weren't giving it all away for free and undermining their potential cash-cows.

      Sure: for the viewers it's great (if you like that sort of thing). But it doesn't increase choice - not when all the channels are screening wall-to-wall soaps, celebs, chat, reality and quizzes: 'cos that's what the people want - innit.

      The solution

      If the trash "popular" programmes were left to the independents to make money from, the BBC could go back to its original charter: entertain, educate and inform. On the basis that you wouldn't need 9 channels of TV to do this (which spend over half their time screening repeats - just to fill the time), the bandwidth they have but don't use could be rented out to other broadcasters (or mobile phone, or some other revenue generator) and that cash used to finance the content they make. If we were also to retain a licence fee, it could then be used to remove or greatly reduce the need for adverts on the commercial channels - thus making them more attractive to viewers (provided they produced programmes people wanted to watch) and as an added bonus, the reduction in advertising "space" might even result in us buying less unneccesary crap and trying to sue the arse of someone everytime we slip over in the street.

    7. veti Silver badge

      Re: Just a News Operation

      The obsession with "news" - which Grade shares - has done untold damage to the BBC. Its misbegotten "rolling news" channel is a ridiculous cost for the benefit it brings.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a News Operation

      Anything that bastard Grade comes up with has just got to be a bad idea.

    9. Splodger

      Re: Just a News Operation

      The BBC don't really do "news" - they instead do "The BBC News".

      That is, everything is looked at through a left-leaning opinionated Guardianista prism. Drives me nuts these days.

      The BBC is also chock full of adverts - for their own high production value dross of course, not washing powder.

      Get rid of it all. Except 6 Music.

  3. Steve Knox
    Trollface

    Embargo

    At this point it would be helpful to point you to the submissions these and other witnesses have made to the Select Committee’s enquiry – but we can’t, because they’re inexplicably under embargo. If you've Silverlight installed, you can watch the second session here. ®

    So the second session is effectively under embargo as well?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Linux

      Re: Embargo

      That's certainly true for me.

  4. FlatSpot
    Stop

    Leave it out

    The real problem is that of politicians, they like to meddle and interfere with things that pretty much work fine.

    Why not meddle in the stuff that needs fixing, ie. tax evasion/avoidance

    1. Circadian

      Re: Leave it out

      Re: "Why not meddle in the stuff that needs fixing, ie. tax evasion/avoidance". As far as the politicians are concerned, it's already working perfectly. You and I are paying all the taxes while they and their paymasters get to avoid them.

    2. Graham Dawson

      Re: Leave it out

      I like the way you tried to conflate evasion (illegal) and avoidance (entirely legal) as the same thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Leave it out

        Morally it is, which is what matters most.

      2. Steve Knox

        Re: Leave it out

        Technically, that would be avoision.

      3. Graham Marsden

        @Graham Dawson - Re: Leave it out

        "avoidance (entirely legal)"

        But not necessarily entirely ethical...

        1. TheTick

          Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

          There's nothing ethical about taxes at all. Just because a majority of people agree that it's ok to force a minority of people to give them money, under threat of force, doesn't make it right.

          Tax avoidance and evasion are our moral duty. I've done the first but not the last, because I'm afraid of the government and what it would do to me. Terrorist B*stards.

        2. Graham Dawson

          Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

          Avoidance is not paying taxes that you aren't required to pay. What's unethical or immoral about that? Expecting people to fork over money they don't owe is what's immoral.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

            The noted jurist and legal philosopher Judge Learned Hand had the most concise statement on this subject.

            http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Learned_Hand

            "Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."

          2. Graham Marsden

            Re: @Graham Dawson - Leave it out

            "Avoidance is not paying taxes that you aren't required to pay. What's unethical or immoral about that?"

            Ask Vodaphone or Amazon or Google or Starbucks.

            Blatantly manipulating the system may be legal and profitable, but it hardly qualifies as ethical.

  5. ElectricFox
    Windows

    BBC2 and BBC4 “spread too little money over too much,” and one of the two spectrum-hogging channels could go.

    BBC4 is one of the best channels that came out on freeview. Especially when you compare it to the trash that's on BBC3...

    1. graeme leggett

      "spectrum-hogging channels could go"?

      As opposed to the compact efficiency of ITV, ITV+1, ITV2, ITV2+1 ITV3, ITV4, CITV....?

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Meh... It used to be the exclusive preserve of cerebral programming but the other night I saw a sitcom had crept into the schedule, and not an old one like Ever Decreasing Circles but Parks and Recreation... I thought at first it was displaced content from BBC Parliament.

    3. TRT Silver badge

      BBC3 has the odd gem here and there, but to find it you have to dig through piles of crap. I did like Some Girls. Hate Live at the Electric, Ja'mie, Sun Sex and Gullible Attention Seeking Idiots, Sexy (some strange new definition of the word) Beasts etc.

      And just WTF is it with Total Wipeout? Why bother with all the water troughs and swinging punch bags? Just film their arrival at the airport in Argentina. What a spectacle it would make, them running the gauntlet as soon as they've presented their British passports. Anyone that actually makes it through customs deserves an automatic place in the final.

      I also like Charlie Booker's Weekly Wipe.

      1. Steve Todd

        @TRT - Oddly enough

        My cousin is married to an Argentinian, and when he goes to visit the in-laws he claims he has no problems at all. The examples you do hear about are mostly political showboating designed to distract the local population.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      BBC4 is one of the best channels that came out on freeview. Especially when you compare it to the trash that's on BBC3...

      Very true, but this is exactly where we used to be with BBC2 v BBC1. BBC3 and 4 were created as "digital" channels, to persuade people to get digital services. New programmes aired first on BBC3/4, as an incentive.

      Why not just close BBC3 and BBC4 now, they've done their job. Put the BBC2+BBC4 programmes on BBC2 again, and the BBC3+BBC1 programmes on BBC1. They each repeat so much of their own and the other's programming that there won't be anything that can't be fitted in. Use the money to improve BBC1/2 programming.

      1. Steve Crook

        Repeats?

        But with all those extra programmes there'd be no room for the repeats of Porridge, The Good Life and Dads Army in the BBC 2 schedule. Whatever would happen to Egg Heads? Or Great British X

        I've decided to boycott any programme that has "Great British" in it. I'm expecting an apology from the BBC and a rapid change to their schedules. I won't be able to tell you about their apology because it will be embargoed under the Chatham House rule.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Repeats?

          But with all those extra programmes there'd be no room for the repeats of Porridge, The Good Life and Dads Army in the BBC 2 schedule. Whatever would happen to Egg Heads? Or Great British X

          Aren't they all shown on UK Dave from Blighty Gold or whatever it's called today?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It doesn't really matter how many BBC channels - or indeed ITV - there are or ever were. The really, really brilliantly written/produced/performed output has always been dropped to make way for whichever mass appeal event and apparently always will.

  6. No Quarter

    Right here's the plan

    Sell BBC1. It's aimed at the same market at ITV etc so we shouldn't be funding it.

    Ditto Radio 1 and 2. No need to fund that with public money.

    Close BBC3 on grounds of taste.

    Put electrodes on David Shukman's nipples and send a decent current through them every time he mentions carbon, climate change or global warming.

    1. Malcolm 1

      Re: Right here's the plan

      Radio 1 effectively has two distinct personas - the painfully commercial daytime schedule, and the outstanding specialist programming broadcast between 7pm to the early hours. Radio 1 is easy to dismiss for its daytime output (although despite the moronic presenters, they at least manage to cycle through rather more new music than any commercial competitor) but Radio 1 in the evening is to new music what Radio 4 is to spoken word broadcasting and is truly world class.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right here's the plan

      Yes, Yes, Yes, Yyyyeeesssss!

      (especially the fourth suggestion)

      I'm fed up of the Beeb taking the p**s with my money. Close it down, sack 'em all, raze its buildings to the ground, plough in salt.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agreed

    BBC should drop the light entertainment dept and stick to factual/news/public broadcasting, let those who want to watch cooking and talent shows pay for that and keep the licence fee at a lower level to cover costs. A lot now pay some form of subscription for TV already, and it seems to be a successful business model.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Cut my head off and it says 'BBC' through my neck

    But the day the BBC starts accepting advertising is the day I sell the telly.

    Subscriptions, yes - but to be honest I can't see any other UK channel that could have made e.g. last night's 'Inside No. 9' and I'll miss stuff like that. BBC2 and BBC4 and Radio 4 and Radio 2 and the rest can go hang.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cut my head off and it says 'BBC' through my neck

      Inside No. 9 is pure crap. With Gatis gone, the other gentlemen are devoid of talent.

    2. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Cut my head off and it says 'BBC' through my neck

      "But the day the BBC starts accepting advertising is the day I sell the telly."

      Good move, 60 years of TV advertising is what got us The People of Walmart on the left side of the Atlantic.

      Not going to post the URL for the People of Walmart website as it ain't pretty.

      1. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

        Re: People of Walmart

        Thank you for the warning.

        I still require eye bleach but it is my own stupid, STUPID fault.

    3. Dr Gerard Bulger

      Re: Cut my head off and it says 'BBC' through my neck

      So you have never watched http://news.bbc.co.uk from abroad then. Adverts you bet.

      1. xerocred

        Re: Cut my head off and it says 'BBC' through my neck

        Yeah, a large ad for a large chinese telecom equipment vendor today. Or did I type the wrong url?

  9. Alan Denman

    Subscription = how far do you want to fall ?

    As an optional subscription service those 'opting in' well end up paying same money for half the service.

    The problem being that with half the service even more may drop out so you could then end up at 'pay double' for half the service.

    Of course the top brass will find it attractive for its 'big bucks bonus culture'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Subscription = how far do you want to fall ?

      > Of course the top brass will find it attractive for its 'big bucks bonus culture'.

      The BBC already has a "big bucks bonus culture" or don't you watch the news?

  10. gerryg

    BBC should adopt an airlines business model

    What does an airline actually own? The aircraft are leased, the logistics, aircrew and catering are contracted in, etc. An airline seems to own only the brand and the business model.

    The BBC seems to have the old Ford's of Dagenham raw materials in at one end, cars out at the other, vertical and horizontal sprawl

    Which is fine until flexibility and agility are required. Channel 4 and Netflix signpost a future in which a broadcaster can adopt the airlines business model and it seems that the BBC is behind the curve.

    This would strip out swathes of overpaid middle management and strategic co-ordination roles. Or paying the "right price" for talent,

    And that's before one considers whether the BBC is trying to do too much, the wrong things or how it should be funded.

    1. Shoot Them Later

      Re: BBC should adopt an airlines business model

      Well that's fine if you want to do what airlines have been doing lately - namely racing to the bottom.

      The BBC have already been moving in that direction - take the sale of BBC Outside Broadcast to SIS in 2008. Was supposed to save money, but of course it didn't. SIS Live are now getting out of the OB game because the BBC didn't renew their contract (because SIS Live turned out to be both expensive and inferior to the old in-house operation). Now lots of ex-BBC OB staff - techies, not managers - are likely to be out of a job, the BBC has no high quality in-house OB like it used to and no money has been saved.

      And how does BBC R&D fit in with the airline model? Obviously, it doesn't.

      I'm sorry, but I want my BBC to be like a proper airline that serves free meals and will give you that extra bottle of wine with your chicken/beef with a cheery smile, and not like Ryanair. If that's not stretching your analogy too far.

      I completely agree that swathes of overpaid middle management and overpaid "talent" are a problem, I just don't think that outsourcing everything is a solution.

    2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: BBC should adopt an airlines business model

      And the service is crap, the prices go up, the crew earns half, the airline barely makes any benefit but the managers get good money.

      That's what you want for the BBC?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBC should adopt an airlines business model

      Have you forgotten Birt's "Producer Choice" (1993-2006) which allowed for programme makers to use BBC facilities/departments etc or pay outsiders?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: BBC should adopt an airlines business model

        Producer choice in at least one case (I have no reason to doubt this was the only one) in which I was involved ended up with with an external production company making programmes for the BBC using BBC facilities and staff for cheaper rates than would have been charged internally... a ridiculous conceit. It also ended up with meetings being held in hotel rooms and conference centres while BBC meeting rooms remained empty - because it was 'cheaper' and ignored the fact that internal costs went back to the BBC while external costs were real money out of the door.

        Birt had a lot to answer for, but mostly I think because he listened to MBAs... people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, and think that if they have a report with numbers in it then they're controlling it.

        Though it didn't help that government requirements to use external companies to make programmes just ended up with the predictable result of the programme makers inside the BBC moving outside in droves and continuing to make the same programmes the BBC was already paying them to...

        Shakespeare was wrong about killing all the laywers: first, we start with the MBAs. The laywers can wait.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fund it from general taxation

    I'd guess nearly everyone these days owns a radio, tv or views/listens over the internet so save a fortune in administrationm, scrap the tv licence and fund it from general taxation.

    1. wub

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Um, try looking at it from another angle: Let's say you are aware of some wonderful back-catalog BBC shows (yes, there's lots of crap on TV these days, but it isn't and wasn't all crap) but have the misfortune to live outside the UK? There is currently no legal way to access this content online (no, I am not going to pay 30 pounds (sorry, no "pound key" on this keyboard) an hour for DVD ownership of something I'd like to watch once).

      So, what about subscriptions, and uh, forget the stupid geographical restrictions? I am NOT the only one who would sign up for that one. You could get us foreigners (we foreigners? wee foreigners?) to help shoulder the load, possibly still commercial-free. BTW: lots of commercials over here, even on the government-subsidized channel - that's what DVRs are for. Just record the stuff you would otherwise watch "live" and skip over the commercials...

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Go

        Re: fund it from general taxation

        @ Wub

        "wonderful back-catalog BBC shows (yes, there's lots of crap on TV these days, but it isn't and wasn't all crap) but have the misfortune to live outside the UK? There is currently no legal way to access this content online"

        You can get BBC programming on Hulu and Hulu+ in the U.S. I have no idea on Hulu's availability in other markets.

        Here's a link to what BBC programs are available:

        http://www.hulu.com/companies/bbc-worldwide

        1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

          Re: fund it from general taxation

          The BBC iPlayer Global app – iOS only – lets you watch archived BBC content for a subscription. It's been available since 2011.

          That's little consolation if you don't have an iOS device, but there are strong hints that the BBC are planning to roll out an international version of their web-based system through the bbc.com website, rather than building umpteen mobile / tablet / desktop apps instead. (Apparently, this is in direct response to Hulu and Netflix's success.)

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Some problems with that;

      1.) The current belief that private is always good and public is always bad means anything that depends on taxation is denigrated (cf schools).

      2.) Politicians struggle to keep their fingers out of everything - put it into taxation and they'll want to controlevery little moment.

      3.) The giant media corporations already do their best to undermine the Beeb, so that the public will be forced to rely on the drivel and pap they use to fill the gaps between the adverts; make it open to political control and the lobbyists will kill it off.

      4.) Once it is paid for by taxation it will be seen as just another service to be slashed ( see 2 above).

      As to the subscription model - that means having to rely on giving people the sort of poor quality slop that keeps them paying to watch celebrities being silly.

      .

    3. Tachikoma

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Why should I have to pay more for a TV to subsidise your viewing when I only use my TV to watch dvds and play games? Make it a subscription service and leave the 30% that don't want it in peace.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: fund it from general taxation

        Why don't you just buy a monitor then?

    4. Tromos

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Better yet, bung it on the leccy bill. Not many able to dodge that, so it should work out fairer than general tax which would penalise the hard worker with no time to watch the box in favour of the layabout with nothing better to do.

    5. Gareth Gouldstone

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Except that that makes the BBC a state organ and (even more) subject to the whims of the government of the day. At least the licence fee and the Royal Charter give the BBC nominal independence from the state.

      1. M Gale

        Re: fund it from general taxation

        At least the licence fee and the Royal Charter give the BBC nominal independence from the state.

        Because a letter from the head of state telling you what you're allowed to do, and a law made by the state that comes up for review every few years, gives you freedom from the state.

        I wish people would stop parroting this propaganda.

    6. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      That's the reason why the TV licence exists in the first place, because if it were funded by general taxation there's the very real possibility of political strings attached to the funding.

    7. Zimmer
      FAIL

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Great idea! Lots of Upvotes.. However, the powers that be will have the whip hand when the The Beeb come begging for the cash from the Treasury. Less cash, poorer output - and goodness knows what sort of pressure to paint the 'powers that be' in a good light, no matter what, in order to receive the cash to continue..

      Great idea, but unintended consequences...

    8. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      Great, and leave it it *WIDE OPEN* to government meddling and BS austerity because it's not "paying its way" and "we're all in this together"...

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: fund it from general taxation

      As the TV licence is a per household tax why not collect the same amount of money via council tax and save on admin costs. Those with higher band properties might be made to pay more - they probably have more / bigger TV devices!

  12. Efros

    I'm sure this has been said but...

    The so called tax pays for some of the finest programming in the world, consider how much most of us pay for cable or satellite telly on a monthly basis and equate that with the quality of the programmes delivered. I am an ex-pat and would happily fork out $100 a month for BBC access. If you think the mindless pap you get there is bad you really need to spend some time on this side of the pond and watch some really really shit TV. Mindless pap is a compliment to most of it and it makes Channel 5's offerings look like Bafta award winning material.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: I'm sure this has been said but...

      @ Efros

      Please tell me you are kidding. I buy DVD's of the films and TV I really like because if it is good I will want to watch it again. The most recent BBC production I own is the original house of cards (I think). I dont mind the specials of top gear but I wont go out of my way to watch it. In fact there is nothing on the BBC I go out of my way to watch.

      Compare that to the many shows on sky I happily paid for and waited to watch on various channels and have bought a lot on DVD because they are worth watching again.

  13. airbrush

    Seems good value to me

    Sorry but I like things the way they are, no systems perfect. Most tinkering over the past 20 years have hardly improved stuff, the more they concentrate on making great programs the happier I'll be.

  14. John Savard Silver badge

    Vastly Overdue

    The telly tax, being regressive, was a horrible idea. It should never have been adopted in the first place. The BBC could fund itself from advertising revenues like any other television network, rather than denying children in poor families a vital source of entertainment.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Vastly Overdue

      The BBC could fund itself from advertising revenues like any other television network, rather than denying children in poor families a vital source of entertainment.

      Are you aware that the average household pays far more for the advertising-funded channels through their weekly shop than they do for the TV licence? How much would you be willing to see prices go up at Asda or Lidl to pay for an advertising-funded BBC? Or are you assuming that existing advertising budgets would just be spread more thinly, so that all the TV stations would have less money to make programmes?

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Vastly Overdue

      Except for one small point: every TV company in the world funded by advertising (i.e. all of them except the BBC) is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The BBC is in the business of selling programmes to viewers.

      It's *not* the same, and once you look past the populist drivel of soaps and game shows, you see the difference.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Vastly Overdue

        @ Neil Barnes

        "Except for one small point: every TV company in the world funded by advertising (i.e. all of them except the BBC) is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. The BBC is in the business of selling programmes to viewers."

        Not doing a very good job then. If you have no interest in Dr Who then there isnt much to watch. I have no problem with people liking various programs on the BBC but what have they released that drags in the viewers apart from Dr Who (I aint a fan sorry)?

        The good argument in favour of the BBC is for shows like panorama and question time but how many channels does that take up? Some people like their news, I prefer to read it online if I am bored as anything with political leanings is extremely biased.

        I did try to watch their recent show 'The Musketeers'. With poor acting, a plot for kids and a lack of anything to watch ended that quickly. So again I watch nothing on the BBC yet I pay for other people's entertainment. It sucks.

      2. bigtimehustler

        Re: Vastly Overdue

        The BBC isn't in the business of doing this though, they don't have to sell anything, they get the money either way. That is entirely the problem. They do make the odd good thing that brings in high viewing figures, they have to otherwise they would be laughed at. But everything else that is not headline is utter rubbish and a waste of the money they receive.

        Also, if you like the service, that is completely fair enough. But why do you think people that do not like the service should be forced to pay for it so that you can watch it? It is more socially based rubbish used as justification to take money off everyone for the good of the few used all the time in this country and one of the reasons i resent the country more and more.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Vastly Overdue

          @both codejunk and bigtimehustler: you're both saying that what the BBC produces is not necessarily to your taste. That's fine; the world would be a worrying place if we all liked and disliked the same stuff. But look at it the other way: the BBC produces material that appeals to a minority as well as to a majority audience.

          To be sure the independents have learned this trick to some extent: they can make high production value (i.e. expensive) dramas, thrillers, and so on - but they do this because they get audience share, not for the passion of generating good TV. The good TV is an almost accidental byproduct... what you don't - as a rule - see on the independents are the depth and range of subjects covered by the Beeb - can you really see ITV doing 'favourite railway journeys' or 'six boats that made Britain great'? Never mind the range of political, financial, historic, musical, technical, scientific... and that doesn't even look at the light entertainment stuff.

          Sure, there's plenty I don't watch on the Beeb but what I do watch is rarely bettered by advert-funded channels.

          High viewing figures are not the be all and end all of good TV - unless you're funded by adverts.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Vastly Overdue

            @ Neil Barnes

            "you're both saying that what the BBC produces is not necessarily to your taste. That's fine; the world would be a worrying place if we all liked and disliked the same stuff. But look at it the other way: the BBC produces material that appeals to a minority as well as to a majority audience."

            You hit the nail on the head. I dont pay for Marmite either because I dont like it. I dont care if other people like it and so buy it, that is their freedom. I dont care if they produce content for the 1% and the 99% if I aint in those groups then why am I paying for someone elses entertainment (not a critical thing like health)? If I drive a toyota I dont want to be paying ford because some other people like it. If the BBC is so good then let the people who want it pay for it. If it is so bad that it cant survive that way then it either needs to appeal to the people paying or fail.

            "To be sure the independents have learned this trick to some extent: they can make high production value (i.e. expensive) dramas, thrillers, and so on - but they do this because they get audience share, not for the passion of generating good TV."

            Contradiction of terms- they get audience share and not for the passion of generating good TV. If you want people to watch it must be worth watching to some people. High value shows exist because people want it. The BBC has an unfair advantage of this tax yet they fail to make many good shows (and none which appeal to me).

            "The good TV is an almost accidental byproduct... what you don't - as a rule - see on the independents are the depth and range of subjects covered by the Beeb"

            This is where the few minor reasons for keeping the BBC exist. Yet this could easily be on fewer channels while scrapping the rubbish. Or by using their advantage to make good shows. But as it stands the BBC is such a waste of my money I am considering giving up live TV so I dont pay them for the nothing they provide.

            "Sure, there's plenty I don't watch on the Beeb but what I do watch is rarely bettered by advert-funded channels."

            That works for you. But I skip adverts happily and yet ALL the shows seem to watch are on advert funded channels. None (bar the once in a few month try to find something, often failing) are on the BBC.

            "High viewing figures are not the be all and end all of good TV - unless you're funded by adverts."

            Somewhat true but not a good sign. If people dont want to watch the channel then they probably wont want to pay for it. I dont care if you like a fancy statue I hate, pay for it yourself if you like it. But forcing others who appreciate something different to pay for your ugly rock isnt nice nor will it make the robbed happy. The same applies with entertainment.

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: Vastly Overdue

              <I'm not sure quite why I'm arguing so hard for the BBC: I worked for them twenty-six years and then they sold me off to Siemens, which I was less than amused by...>

              I can see the point of your argument, but I wonder what happens to the common good if everyone follows the same logic? I use the roads, but I never use the A9 from Edinburgh to Aberdeen - should I pay for that bit? Yes, because others do and they help pay for the A505 that I do use. I like Marmite - and buy it - while you don't, and don't. Fair enough. But the only reason I *can* buy Marmite, and you can buy marmalade (other spreads are available) is not that some entrepreneur has spotted a gap in a market - it's because there *is* a market in which to have a gap. The infrastructure exists because the costs of that infrastructure are spread over a hundred thousand different products, suppliers, and purchasers. The common good is important.

              The definition of 'good' TV will of course vary by the viewer's expectations and tastes. I will be the first to admit that the BBC produces some (to me) absolute and utter crap - yet, to my shock and horror, people watch it and seem to enjoy it. Must be good to them, then? It seems that my tastes and yours are unlikely to be congruent - but I suspect that we could both agree on whether a particular programme, irrespective of content and irrespective of whether we *liked* it or not, was 'good' or 'bad' in terms of production values, as vague and subjective as those terms are.

              It's interesting that elsewhere in this thread people have advocated both that TV is an absolute necessity and that it is unnecessary; that it should be provided for all and that it should be provided only for those who want/can pay for it. It's also been pointed out that the TV licence is not a tax and that it does not directly pay for the BBC. I'd add to that the point that although the independents in the UK regularly clamour for the licence fee to be removed, I suspect that as soon as the BBC started taking advertising, there would be such a cry for it to be forbidden - I know where I'd put my money if I were an advertiser; the BBC is a *very* strong brand.

              But it does occur to me that the way do to what you're suggesting already exists: stop paying the 'BBC Tax' and do everything online, using paid services. The choice is there.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Vastly Overdue

                @ Neil Barnes

                "I use the roads, but I never use the A9 from Edinburgh to Aberdeen - should I pay for that bit?"

                Of course, because you do use the roads and you do have the freedom to all of the roads with no additional cost (bar london with the hated congestion charge). That is similar to the idea of paying for a sky package that doesnt include sports but accepting you probably contribute to the sports entertainment. That is perfectly acceptable because if you want the virgin service you do not pay for their rival 'sky'. Owning a TV does not cause the BBC tax, watching anyone's live broadcast regardless of who or what technology automatically forces you to have to pay for the BBC. Even if you want nothing to do with them.

                "The definition of 'good' TV will of course vary by the viewer's expectations and tastes."

                This is the perfect argument against the BBC on 2 fronts. First it is fair for a person to pay for what they want without being forced to pay for something completely disconnected from what they want. This is the free market system our entire working world pretty much works on with very few deviations. Second the BBC has this ridiculous advantage so surely they should be able to make something for almost everyone. This is across multiple channels and no need for adverts! This huge advantage gives us TV which I dont find interesting and a few people I know dont watch it either (not a large sample but surely this should be almost none). And all of these people watch a lot of TV/video.

                "It's interesting that elsewhere in this thread people have advocated both that TV is an absolute necessity and that it is unnecessary"

                It isnt quite a necessity, entertainment is. However in this country there is limited entertainment of any affordable price and so TV has taken the slot almost exclusively for a lot of people. And as we agree people have different tastes. And the BBC have a huge advantage over everyone. So why do so many people not watch the BBC? Why dont the BBC use this advantage to make good shows? They had Sherlock and Dr Who (not my interests but I accept they were popular). They even had a popularity show didnt they (dance I think)? They have a kids channel which might be popular? So how many channels do they need if this is their content we are forced to pay for if we want to watch shows of our own interest?

                I used to accept the BBC on the basis of their news. However it leans so hard and is so badly biased on anything with a political impact that parts of its news are more propaganda.

                The BBC is a strong brand which seems to be so due to its history. I would like the BBC to either become interesting or cut back. The only other alternative is for me to give up on live TV no matter how much I would like to support the channels that DO bring interesting content. Instead buy DVD and use online catch up services. Something the BBC recently considered putting a price on!

  15. Bill Gates

    Want to make more money to fund BBC? Allow me in america and other countries to subscribe so I can use iPlayer just like someone in the UK.

    You would add millions to the funding of BBC.

  16. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Please stop for a moment and look around

    The UK is one of the few places on earth where television actually works. Even ITV has some fairly decent programming since there is the BBC trying to make good television without any fear of loosing their income. In Germany for example, public TV stopped caring about quality and commercial stations noticed they neither needed to care.

    The UK system works. Sure it has flaws and isn't perfect, but it's better then what the rest of the world has. Please, I beg you, don't throw away what you've got.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Please stop for a moment and look around

      I would like to lend support to that point. I have lived in the UK for the last 15 years. You don't know the value of what you have, and you won't know until after you have destroyed it through greed, ignorance and indifference. Shame on you. The BBC is worth every penny, and more.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: Please stop for a moment and look around

        This.

        I've lived and worked in a number of countries and *nothing* comes close to the BBC in terms of quality. And, yes, most continental European countries not only have their own state-funded TV stations, but those TV stations _also_ have ads, and produce nowhere near as much quality content. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licence – check out Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Still think the BBC is terrible value for money?)

        Considering the tiny budgets the BBC makes its programming for – even Doctor Who is made for a fraction of the cost of typical US telefantasy productions – it's a miracle they produce as much as they do, let alone produce content that many other countries, including the US, are willing to pay for. And at least you're not getting ads *and* having to pay a license fee regardless, as Italians, Germans and French TV viewers do.

        While I agree that the license fee is not an ideal form of payment, it is by far the least worst option available at present.

        And no, the Queen does not count as "state interference". Yes, she's the head of state, but she's apolitical – she has to be, given how long she's been in the job. The Windsors, for all their faults, do at least provide a level of long-term continuity, countering the short-termism endemic to elected representatives. This is one of the few advantages of a royal family, and one that shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. The UK could certainly do a better job of making use of this feature of a monarchy, but it absolutely should not remove it. Not unless they can come up with something better.

  17. Mr Paranoid

    The BBC has been used as a Government propoganda mouthpiece since inception, effectively do you remember God save the Queen being broadcast at night every year until 1997 ?, which is hardly the action of an 'independent' broadcaster - Channel 4 for example.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      The Queen is not a member of the Government.

      1. M Gale

        No, she's only head of fucking state.

        She's more part of the government than Cleggy or Cameron. Don't give me that crap about a "symbolic role", just because she's not shouty and on telly a lot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Where

        Did they say she was?

      3. Mr Paranoid

        "The Queen is not a member of the Government."

        The UK is a Monarchy, the Queen reminds you every year in the Queens speech & state opening of Parliament that the Government is 'My' Government. Pay attention to the world around you.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          The original post asserted that playing the national anthem on TV is government propaganda. It isn't. Closing each day's TV with a party political broadcast by the prime minister would be government propaganda. Broadcasting the national anthem at closedown, although perhaps archaic these days, is not, any more than a US TV station that broadcasts the President's "State of the Union" address would be a "propaganda mouthpiece". The Queen represents the permanent state, not the transient government.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well said

      The BBC are and always have been part of the establishment and work hand in glove with the state.

      All this "left-wing BBC" is absolute nonsense. They're as left wing as Adolf Hitler.

  18. Simple Simon

    Unfair Tax?

    No.

    It's the fairest tax of them all. It's the only tax where all the money goes exactly where you think it goes. And if you don't want the service, you don't have to pay the tax.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. M Gale

      Re: Unfair Tax?

      Oh lovely. I don't want the BBC. Can I watch Channel 4? ITV? Sky? Anything?

      Guess not, then.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Facepalm

        @M Gale - Re: Unfair Tax?

        > Oh lovely. I don't want the BBC. Can I watch Channel 4? ITV? Sky? Anything?

        > Guess not, then.

        Right, so if I only ride a bicycle, can I withold the part of my taxes which go to pay for motorways because I don't use them?

        1. M Gale

          Re: @M Gale - Unfair Tax?

          Whilst so-called "road tax" goes into the same big pot of general taxation as everything else (at least in the UK), if you don't have a motor vehicle, you don't pay road tax.

          Electric bicycles with a motor power of less than 250 watts and a top speed of less than 15mph do not count as motor vehicles in UK law, by the way. Your mileage may vary, but considering you're calling it "a motorway" and not "a freeway", I guess not.

          Also little 50cc thingies that aren't allowed on motorways pay vastly, immensely less road tax than a car or more powerful motorbike.

          What this has to do with the goggle box, I have no idea. Nevertheless, next please!

          1. Graham Marsden

            Re: @M Gale - Unfair Tax?

            M Gale - *NOBODY* pays "Road Tax" and haven't done since just after WWII, you are taxed on your ownership of a motor vehicle but you don't get a discount because "I don't use that sort of road, therefore I won't pay for it."

            I'll spell out what this has to with the Goggle box: It's just like someone saying "I don't watch the BBC therefore I shouldn't have to pay for it." Is that clear now?

            (Oh and BTW, if you ride a motorbike, which does not contribute to congestion and causes less damage to a road than a small car, you *still* have to pay VED, even though its capacity is less than those cars which are exempted from VED.)

            1. M Gale

              Re: @M Gale - Unfair Tax?

              The colloquial term is road tax, and you can wriggle as much as you like. If you're on a scooter, which can't go on motorways, you pay massively less tax on it. If you're on a bicycle, you don't pay any tax on it.

              And it's still a stupid analogy, which has nothing to do with the idiot box. However, your insistance that I call road tax "vehicle excise duty" shines a light on the whole "it's not a tax, it's a license" bullshit. It is a tax. On the idiot box.

              It needs to go.

              1. Graham Marsden

                Re: @M Gale - Unfair Tax?

                @M Gale - You can call it whatever you like, it's still not "a tax that pays for the roads", but you can keep (and will) wriggling as much as you like too as the rest of your post demonstrates.

                1. M Gale

                  Re: @M Gale - Unfair Tax?

                  You're still talking about road tax, when I'm on about the telly tax. As is, well, everyone else.

                  You want it, you pay for it.

    3. Rogue Jedi

      Re: Unfair Tax?

      You are mistaken, if someone wants to watch television in the UK but never watches the BBC they still have to pay the BBC TV licence.

      The fair way to do it would be a subscription, where you decide if you want to watch the BBC (not television in general) and if you do not want to watch the BBC you do not pay the subscription.

    4. Pete 2

      Re: Unfair Tax?

      The BBC tax is unfair (technically: regressive). The reason being that everyone pays the same amount, irrespective of their ability to pay. The modern trend with taxation is for the rich to pay more than the poor. Sure, there are some subsidies available with the BBC licence fee, such as a 50% reduction for the blind, but otherwise if you're on the minimum wage you pay the same licence fee as if you earn a million a year.

      As far as hypothecation goes (tax paid to finance a specific thing), yes it is - and that level of transparency is good.

      However, once the money gets given to the BBC, all transparency is lost. Who decides whether "our (TV) taxes" should be spent on a new costume drama, or adding stuff to their website, sending hundreds of staff on a foreign "jolly" to cover an event, or pissed against the wall on a digitisation plan that was totally mismanaged? The public pay billions every year for all these things, but the democratic process fails completely in giving us any say on where "our" money gets spent, or who gets to spend it.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: Unfair Tax?

        "The BBC tax is unfair (technically: regressive). The reason being that everyone pays the same amount, irrespective of their ability to pay."

        The BBC License Fee is not a tax. The clue's in the name. It's a part of the price of owning a TV; the TV itself merely provides the machinery with which to receive the broadcasts.

        The BBC is a Corporation with a Royal Charter, not a subsidiary of a government ministry. It is a legal entity that has been granted very specific powers. This is an uncommon form of business these days, but it's the same mechanism that was used to create the University of Cambridge, the East India Company, and the Bank of England.

        Also, how is everyone paying the same amount "unfair"? I don't get a discount on shoes, clothing or food based on my "ability to pay", so why should I expect a discount on a luxury item like a television set? Do Sky give you a discount on their subscriptions based on your level of income? Do Tescos give you an "I never watch TV adverts" discount on the stuff you've bought from them?

        A television is a luxury, not a basic necessity. I haven't owned a TV since 1996, so it is most certainly possible to live without one.

        1. Pete 2

          Re: Unfair Tax? If it walks like a duck ..

          > The BBC License Fee is not a tax. The clue's in the name.

          It's a tax. Merely changing the name fools nobody (well, almost nobody - just ask the people who live near Windscale Sellafield). As for the wiki-gasm about the BBC's legal status? Well, nobody cares about that distinction, either.

          As for why the tax is unfair, it's a shame you never managed to read past my second sentence or you would have seen the reason why that is.

          So you don't have a TV - that's nice, if irrelevant. Some people choose to go without carbs, or meat, or clothes¹ too.. Does that mean they are "luxury" items? No of course it doesn't. So far as having a TV is concerned for a lot of the lowest paid workers, and those who don't/won't/can't work a TV is a necessity. If you have children there is nothing comparable to keep them occupied. The same can be said for adults, too, especially the housebound - if you can't afford other ways of occupying your "leisure" time, then a TV is vital. That's one reason why you find TVs in all parts of the world from Manhattan to Somalia. People are willing to forgo better food in order to have some source information and a way to add a little "sunshine" into their lives.

          [1] The naked rambler.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            TV a necessity?

            However did we manage before 1927?

            Panem et circenses?

            1. Graham Marsden

              @Neil Barnes - Re: TV a necessity?

              People went to the music hall and then the movies and watched News Reels.

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                Re: @Neil Barnes - TV a necessity?

                And read, sang, played musical instruments, discussed the situation of the day, drank beer...

                This forum lacks a sarcasm flag.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unfair Tax?

          "The BBC License Fee is not a tax"

          It has been classed as a tax since 2006.

          http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/classifications/na-classifications/classification-articles/public-sector-broadcasting/broadcasting--how-ons-will-classify-public-sector-broadcasters.html

    5. bigtimehustler

      Re: Unfair Tax?

      Except that isn't true is it. If I don't want to watch any of the BBC channels but do indeed want to watch Discovery channels on sky. I do have to pay the tax. What you mean is that if i don't want to watch all live TV so as to avoid the BBC I don't have to pay the tax. Thats not the same thing, it forces people who would otherwise do without the BBC to pay the tax unfairly.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Unfair Tax?

        But that's because the tax is not 'to watch the BBC'. It's to receive and watch real-time TV. The grant the BBC receives from the government - and has to negotiate for every few years - while on the same general level as the expected tax take is not the exact value.

        The tax from the independents is on every item you buy, whether you watch it or not. And when you add in a subscription as well... that's adding insult to injury.

  19. Shooter
    Unhappy

    Subscriptions

    Perhaps you in the UK could adopt the model we use on the left side of the pond: Pay exorbitant cable/satellite rates AND contend with a ridiculous number of ads AND have to put up with the ever-increasing (in both number and physical size) and highly distracting promo ads for upcoming shows in the corner of the screen. All for shows that are of dubious quality at best. And that doesn't even count the channels that are *all* ads/infomercials/shopping.

    Personally, I'd jump at the chance to pay an annual fee/tax and be done with all forms of commercial advertising on television..

  20. SeanEllis
    Stop

    In case anyone needs reminding why we need the BBC

    Here's the inimitable Mitch Benn setting it to music... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3q2iZuU5WM

    And the riposte "I'm Proud of Sky" song... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH-D7wLo2Fs

  21. Andrew Jones 2

    Ship has sailed.

    I still can't understand why they are going on about Subscriptions.

    That ship sailed when HD boxes came on the market and there were no card slots.

    The majority of Freeview equipment in use today does not have any conditional access equipment, and therefore it would require everyone who wanted to continue watching the BBC to replace their equipment, that simply is not going to happen.

    The best they could hope for would be a phasing in (over at least a decade) of a subscription - but that would require manufacturers who are currently making the cheap freeview kit - adding CA to their kit and still keeping the cost down.

    If it turns out that the UK Gov switched off Analogue - while promising that Freeview would still provide access to the channels, a pay once, watch forever deal (the freeview advert still says that) and then now that there is no-way back they change the system - there will be absolute hell to pay.

  22. bex

    some what archaic idea but,

    I am not a big fan of dishing out £145 plus but commercial TV is mostly awful so I guess it's business as usual.

    The Tories have been goig on about this for decades but as per usual they will do nothing.

  23. David Webb

    Beeb

    I think many people are more than happy to pay £140 odd each year to watch TV without adverts interrupting what they are watching, where you get 3 minutes from the end, then 4 minutes of adverts before they give you the final 1 minute of the show and then credits.

    Could the BBC *really* show Watchdog slamming down on Company X when Company X is a major advertising provider? (yeah, you wanna show that, you lose millions in advertising, understood?). Lack of adverts allows for better impartiality for us, the consumer..

    Not that I watch much TV, maybe an hour a day, but even then I think it's worth it to not have Top Gear cut down by 12 minutes just to show adverts.

    1. Tromos

      Re: Beeb

      For me, Top Gear could be cut down substantially. I'd rather have adverts than 'nonentity of the week in a reasonably priced car', just so Clarkson can pretend he's Michael Parkinson every week.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to give them a penny of my money since I don't watch TV. Yet just by owning a TV you're supposed to cough up.

    1. JimS

      Don't want to pay the license fee? Then don't!

      Always surprises me that people still don't know that you don't need a licence for a TV if you aren't watching or recording programmes as they are being broadcast.

      I know TVL are a PITA, but if you genuinely don't watch or record live TV, tell them to eff off and take you to court, then just bin any correspondence you receive from them. They've no legal right, as far as I know, to 'inspect' your equipment. Just don't lie about it and unplug any receiving equipment from the aerial/satellite sockets.

      Even easier with smart TVs these days, plug into network and carry on watching catch up TV to your hearts content. Just don't watch anything live.

  25. Sebring
    Thumb Down

    We'd end up paying a lot more than £145/yr for a subscription-based BBC.

    Call me naive, but I'd like politicians to fix broken things. And in the grand scheme of things, the funding method for the BBC comes way, way down the list of things that are broken.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Some Would

      But at least we'd have a choice

      1. Sebring
        Facepalm

        Re: Some Would

        @IDontHaveAHandle

        "But at least we'd have a choice"

        You already have a choice. No-one's putting a gun to your head and forcing you to have a TV.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And I'd like the politicians

      to just stop messing with anything at all. They nearly always make things worse no matter which party they are and no matter what area they are messing with. There are so many things that are much more shit than they used to be because of unnecessary meddling.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC never really recovered...

    ...from having that talentless smirking POS John Birt put in charge of it. The same formula seems to have been applied to nearly everything else since then, ie: destroy anything that works, usually by throwing accountants at it. Why don't we just sell the entire country for scrap and emigrate?

    1. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

      Re: The BBC never really recovered...

      "...Why don't we just sell the entire country for scrap..."

      Thatcher already did that.

  27. John Tserkezis

    "If you've Silverlight installed, you can watch..."

    Silverlight? What's that?

    (chuckle)

  28. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    The BBC should be split into two halves.

    One half should be funded by the public purse (taxation, license fee, whatever) and do public service broadcasting. e.g. apolitical news & current affairs, documentaries, etc. Maybe even trialling new technologies.

    The second half should be either advertising or subscription funded (but not both, it shouldn't be another Sky) and do the rest of the commercial pap.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      The BBC should be split into two halves.

      You mean like a licence-funded BBC for home use, and a commercial arm called BBC Worldwide that sells BBC programmes abroad to raise money? It is.

  29. phil dude
    Coat

    jobs and...

    The problem with these sorts of "thought experiments" is it tends to come across as an advert for lobbying services.

    There might be a lot of cruft at the BBC, there may have been some dumbing down, it might not be very consistent.

    But NOTHING compares to the cynical commercial exploitation of any sports fan, or of any other media made outside of the UK, or of any media that may appear in a cinema.

    Both Sky ITV and the whole host of "pseudo-channels" padding the spectrum with fake quizs, hypnotic selling, advert-pepper replayed content, etc etc etc all profit handsomely by slicing and dicing the content you can see.

    Let us all remember that there are powerful media forces, and the government that would all love to have a much smaller BBC to bully into their service.

    It may need reform, but the decoupling from "taxation" has kept it largely away from the whims of government....

    P.

  30. Graham Marsden

    And who would produce...

    ... documentaries like Michael Moseley comes up with? Pain, Pus and Poison? Eww! Nobody wants to watch that!

    Or what about Danny Baker's Rockin' Decades? A bunch of people sat around a table nattering about music? Too boring (the fact that the guy has forgotten more about music than most people know seems to be irrelevant).

    And The Sky at Night would get the axe because it has no mass-market appeal.

    I'll leave the last word(s) to Mitch Benn... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3q2iZuU5WM

  31. butigy

    the beeb is great

    I think the BBC is great value. Even Radio 4 on its own is worth the licence fee in my view. Change the funding structure at the peril of destroying the best output.

  32. Sooty

    I really don't want the TV here to become like America

    I don't enjoy paying the licence, but I have seen some American shows and they can be obscene in the amount of blatant advertising. If you want a funny example watch an episode of Top Chef!

    All the kitchen equipment is name checked by manufaturer, the cameras linger on the logos all the time. The contestents don't just go and get ingredients, they take the Toyota Rav4 to Wholefoods. They have to include Philadelphia cream cheese in the recipe for this challenge, etc.

    I realise it's how the show is funded though, these companies are providing the equipment and prizes because there's no other way of funding it

  33. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    Pay-by-view is the only ethical and sane way to do it.

    The concepts of "TV channels" and linear-viewing are essentially alien to anyone under-40: they're all grabbing stuff to watch on their mobes and tablets and don't really care about the provider or what 'channel' it is on.

    My issue with the BBC is that as a potential TV-viewer you're obliged to fund it even if you never intend to watch it: imagine the outcry if you were obliged to pay for copies of The Guardian even if you only ever read the Financial Times and Country Life?

    [My house has been BBC-free for the last couple of decades. I don't have a TV licence either]

    Convert rhe BBC intoi a subscription-service? Yes please! [alas, as someone else has said, the tacky "freeview" boxes don't have any kind of conditional-access/viewing-card mechanism, otherwise your annual TV-licence could have included a card to enable your box to decode the BBC channels].

  34. NotWorkAdmin

    My missus watches the telly

    Quaint.

  35. Psymon

    Very interesting discussion

    Yes we moan about the licence fee, but what's the alternative? Watch ITV? I'd rather sh*t in my hands and clap!

    We've got enough detritus on TV with Big brother, Strictly come dive with me, Jeremy Kyle, mind numbing soaps (they should seriously have a health warning stating long term exposure will turn you into an ignorant drama queen), and enough cooking and "talent" shows to numb the mind of even Steven Hawkins.

    Certainly, by far and away, the BBC has the greatest wildlife and science documentaries in the world by several light-years. The factually tepid rivals, such as the penguin movie voiced by Morgan Freeman simply highlight how lucky we are. No matter how much money other enterprises from other countries throw at their own attempts, there is always that tangible stain of "dumbed down" that decades of catering to the lowest common denominator always leaves.

    I would be out on the street with Molotov cocktails if they attempted to take one penny away from these. The vast majority of outspoken complainers simply don't know how lucky we are. If you'd like an education, try watching American TV! You'll be kissing the ground in Heathrow airport and offering up your first-born to David Cameron to get back in after a week!

    I certainly agree that the BBC does need more focus, though. In the technology fields, there does seem to be a lot of wheel reinventing.

    1. Pete 2

      Re: Very interesting discussion

      > the BBC has the greatest wildlife and science documentaries in the world by several light-years. ...

      > I would be out on the street with Molotov cocktails if they attempted to take one penny away from these

      Better get the firebombs ready then. Their latest financial statement (for 2012/2013) shows that BBC2 had it's funding cut by £6M (that's a lot of "one penny"'s) compared to the previous year and BBC4 suffered a £2½M cut. BBC1 on the other hand (not known for its documentaries: science, wildlife or otherwise) gained over £120 Mil. Even though the corporation as a whole received £50M less than the previous year.

      It would appear that Strictly (that is a BBC show, isn't it?) is where the funding is going and "serious" programmes are being cut to pay for it.

  36. M Gale

    It's a bloody goggle box.

    It's not a fire service. Or an ambulance service. It's not even the police. It's not a school. It's not a hospital. It has fuck all to do with your life that is essential beyond plonking your arse down in front of a screen and vegetating. Don't give me that but-must-provide-educational-programming bullshit. That can happen without a tax. It's called "government owned", which the BBC is.

    Now get your fucking hands out of my pockets and pay for it yourself if you want it so bad.

    1. John G Imrie

      I hope you don't have kid's

      Because if you do you owe me a massive rebate on my taxes for helping educating them.

      1. M Gale

        Re: I hope you don't have kid's

        Because you never went to school?

        Comparing education to television. Really now.

  37. vmistery

    Although the BBC is not perfect by any means it is still massively better in value than Sky / Virgin and has far better content than Ad only channels like ITV and 4. So if people want to scrap the BBC a suitable replacement where you can listen to Ad free Radio and watch Ad free TV for £12.13 a month needs to be offered. This for me is vital on the radio as the Adverts are so terrible!

  38. Sirius Lee

    Absolutely, eliminate the tax

    The BBC is a massive market distortion which is kept alive by the licence tax. It inhibits competition in this market. It delayed adoption of digital technologies back in the mid 1990's.

    I read someone here complaining that it would just be more cooking programmes. So Come Dancing is cultural education? It produces truly miserable programmes like Holby City, Casualty and Eastenders. Really, does the country need to be made depressed at it's own expense? These programmes would not be made by a commercial companies because there would not be a market for them. Do they sell abroad competing with programmes set in places with faultless weather? Not a hope except to that small set of places with a local community of ex-pats nostalgic for a cloud over their heads.

    Of course the BBC does produce some good programmes. With the resources it has at it's disposal at least some of it's programmes have to be OK in the same way the a broken analogue clock shows the right time twice a day. There are so many examples. Comedy is one. Why would any other station attempt to put on comedy shows when the BBC stamps all over the market inflating costs. Mock the Week and Have I got New for You are funny. Live at the Apollo is funny too. But they block out many aspiring comedians and shows. The result is the same few people on our screens telling jokes and in the same style. Perhaps the only other example if 8 out of 10 Cats but that's shown on BBC-lite, Channel 4. Oh, and pretty much the same cast of characters. By the way, does anyone else but me think Stephen Fry is over exposed?

    Do we need 4 BBC TV channels and CBeebies and 6 radio channels plus the countless regional channels? Does the BBC need reporters everywhere? Very often the BBC lunch time news is on when I have lunch and I'm dismayed at how many time the 'news' is regurgitated stories form Yahoo! or some other site.

    It's probably due cost cutting so the staff can continue to receive their benefits. How much did staff get paid over their contractual limit when fired? How much was the BBC paying 'celebrities'? I'm happy to go on and on but you get the message. The BBC is a massive and legally mandated market distortion.

    Back in Reith's day it was necessary to build new infrastructure for the BBC - transmitters all over the empire, support companies creating radio and TV sets, devise standards, build studios - a massive project and expensive. So there was the choice of funding the generation of a whole industry and the nascent BBC out of general taxation or a hypothecated tax and a special tax was chosen.

    However that time has passed. market is mature, the studios built and the standards used are set by bodies outside the UK. It's time the BBC were cut free. Those who want the BBC can, like Sky or Virgin Media users, buy subscriptions.

    1. phil dude
      Flame

      Re: Absolutely, eliminate the tax

      ok I'll bite.

      1) Pass a law then, subscription channels by corporations, but make it illegal to have any advertisements within a program, and perhaps mandatory publishing of ratio of "unique content/repeat content".

      Or

      2) have programs jammed full of adverts.

      Anything else is a ripoff to consumers.

      How about while were being radical, all paid for (subscription) sports to be shown without adverts? Mandatory.

      Let's call it the "sole source media funding act".

      The reason the BBC is the least worst option is because it is people who make art/music/telly we watch, and there is a degree of risk in producing a product that your customers are not forced to buy.

      Not a problem had by "channel resellers" as they just buy what's popular, and some even have exclusive contracts to deliberately inflate the price.

      What we have now is the BBC (option 1) or the worst possible mixture of paying exorbitant rates for 1) divided into ever smaller chunks and actually getting 2).

      P.

  39. Colin Millar
    Pirate

    Looking out for No 1

    See that Grade is doing what he does best - making sure he gets his bit.

    Wait for them to utter the magic words "commissioning agency" - aka a government mechanism for shovelling the public sponds to their mates.

  40. Yugguy

    The licence fee lets the Beeb produce programmes like Only Connect that wouldn't otherwise be commercially viable. I don't mind paying it.

  41. Miek
    Linux

    BBC+Subscription model = The Future

  42. Frood42
    Meh

    Advert free

    I watch the BBC channels because they are advert free and have a wide range of programmes, some I may like, some I may not, and some I may not know I may like.

    I also use services like Netflix, as they don't have adverts.

    They start with adverts and I will get my coat.

    .

  43. mittfh

    An alternative approach...

    Turn the BBC into a non-profit. It would therefore be freed of the requirement to bow to the Establishment (i.e. whichever party is in power at the time) for fear of being dealt a rough hand in the next Charter Renewal (so for example on the news front could move towards more balance with an aim of impartiality); while it would also be freed from the commercial pressure to produce "safe" programming that would attract oodles of people to watch adverts. By being non-profit, it would be responsible only to its viewers, and if the revenue department was a completely separate division from the programming department with minimal links between the two, it could produce programming for everyone, rather than the top donors. Alongside the change, severely cut back on management roles and replace the crust with fresh meat.

    I think part of the problem with the current output of the BBC is that it tries to be everything to everyone, so understandably fails because different demographics have different preferences. Having said that, perhaps they could donate the formats for many BBC3 shows to Channel 4 and Channel 5, and have quality programming aimed at teenagers / young adults instead.

    Heck, quality programming and high viewings aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, and needn't be lavish dramas that soak up bucketloads of cash. Even with game and quiz shows, there must be a middle ground between the mindless tat seen across many channels (including the BBC) and those perceived as 'highbrow' e.g. University Challenge, Mastermind. Perhaps take a leaf out of the concepts of Countdown and Millionaire - a challenge that sounds simple, but is deceptively complex. The more highbrow shows also don't need large pots of prize money to motivate the contestants - the experience alone, with possibly something relatively low value such as a mug, dictionary or small trophy as the ultimate prize.

  44. Nicolas Barbulesco
    Stop

    Embargo ?

    “At this point it would be helpful to point you to the submissions these and other witnesses have made to the Select Committee’s enquiry – but we can’t, because they’re inexplicably under embargo.”

    This is not clear. Did you (do you) have these submissions or not ?

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