back to article Trebles all round: The BBC's won this licence fee showdown

It's been a great week for the BBC. The Corporation has expanded the Telly Tax onto computers and, on top of that, gained a guarantee of annual inflation-rate increases in the television licence fee. These cancel out the new requirement that the BBC funds free TV for the over-75s, which it must do in full from 2020. As a bonus …

  1. John Sanders
    Mushroom

    If I start...

    If I start a news website: Can I have some money from all British households?

    If I start an online streaming business: Can I have some money from all British households?

    Because competing in the marketplace is hard you know, so if I can leverage some money via lawful coercion is great.

    1. codejunky Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: If I start...

      Only if your to the right of Kim Jong but to the left of everyone else. Probably comes under religious freedom to apply the socialist funding model and drag everyone down to the same level.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: If I start...

      If I promise to build a fighter aircraft that can't fight can I have money from every household?

      And when it turns out that it's going to be years late and 500% over budget can I have any news of this kept secret for "national security"?

    3. toffer99

      Re: If I start...

      If you can provide all that the Beeb does for less than their 40p a day, then yes. And I'll be paying you along with the rest of the population.

      This series of cuts to the BBC is part of the payback to Murdoch and Rothermere for helping the surprise Tory win to happen. No less, no more.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: If I start...

        @ Larry F54

        "Public service broadcasting is socially beneficial to make up for the defects in the market."

        What is this defect people like to claim? I hear it in various topics where freedom vs a practically indefensible position is argued. What market place failing is there in broadcasting? There are many failings in the public service broadcasting as are pointed out on this board but people are forced to fund this thing. It doesnt bother with the shows to reel us in?

        "Also, remember that you are not the customer for commercial TV; you're the product, the advertisers are the customers, and the shows are just bait to reel you in."

        This assumes a zero sum game which ignores the market and the transactions which make the market. For example the advertisers want advertising space to offer their wares to us. We want quality shows we are actually willing to watch. Marry the two and you have a channel. If you can provide a good enough channel then people may be willing to actually part with money to subscribe to a service offering the channel even though it has adverts.

  2. danbishop

    "The Corporation has expanded the Telly Tax onto computers"

    ...does anyone have a source for this, Google appears to be unaware.

    I'm taking this to mean you need a licence for non-live streams from iPlayer now? Or have I misunderstood...

    1. YARR

      Re: "The Corporation has expanded the Telly Tax onto computers"

      I hope this quote was taken out of context. The argument for a TV licence was justified when the device being taxed had a single purpose and received only a limited number of approved channels. Nowadays internet access is necessary for modern life. Levying a BBC tax on anyone who just wants to stay in touch with friends, buy goods, manage their finances, apply for a job etc. online is unfair and inappropriate. At the same time, we can watch BBC content without paying for it using iplayer. The fairest system is to pay a subscription if you use the service.

      I'm not criticising the value or quality of the BBC, but if they believe they are an essential service to the nation, why not find out by letting the nation decide via a free marketplace? If they're concerned that they are becoming less relevant, an open marketplace will answer that concern and then they can decide how they should respond.

      When the BBC was the main source of broadcast media they had a responsibility to be all things to all people and provide a wide range of content. Now that technology gives the consumer access to an unlimited range of alternative media sources, the BBC's role as a national broadcaster has to evolve. Perhaps they should focus more on UK content. We can watch foreign movies, TV series and sports events elsewhere, so perhaps the BBC should cut those altogether and focus on British content?

  3. BoldMan

    Well its pretty obvious from the negative tone of this article which side of the BBC funding fence you sit on :)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @ Larry F54

        "No surprise there. It would be helpful if El Reg got some additional BBC coverage from writers who don't hate it."

        Why? Must the reg find a fox news lover if they write a bad article about it? Maybe a pro N Korea lover to balance anything bad said? Or if you want someone who likes BBC you could check out the BBC pages and see if you can find some.

        There are people who like and dont like the BBC in the comments section. Maybe people can profess their love there?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > The Corporation has expanded the Telly Tax onto computers

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it's a licence to receive the live signal as it's broadcast. The law doesn't say anything about the method you use to do so.

    Looked at another way; you've always had to pay the licence fee if you watch live telly on a computer.

  5. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    55% more?

    "The number of households has increased enormously, up 55 per cent since 1961. The BBC does a lot more with that money, of course, but arguably not 55 per cent more."

    In 1961 the BBC provided one black and white television service, available to approx 90% of the UK, and 3 radio services (which as proved 3 years later were not really in touch with what a large chunk of the population wanted).

    In 2015 the BBC provides something like 8 TV channels, available to something 99.9% of the population, 6-8 national radio services, a plethora of local/regional/provincial radio services, one of the countries (worlds?) most popular websites, a major export market of programming, plus loads more.

    How on earth is that not 55% more?

    A computer/broadband tax though is the thin end of the wedge........

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: 55% more?

      @ Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

      "How on earth is that not 55% more?"

      I assume he means content not channels repeating said content.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 55% more?

        "I assume he means content not channels repeating said content."

        And how many broadcast hours per day were there in 1961? That Potters Wheel and the "test card" were repeated ad nauseum! :-)

        1. Vic

          Re: 55% more?

          That Potters Wheel and the "test card" were repeated ad nauseum!

          Yeah, but they were still more interesting than that suspicious parents bollocks...

          Vic.

        2. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: 55% more?

          Adjust those modern day volumes by some quality factor as there's far too much nauseating reality shite on TV.

  6. Just Enough
    Boffin

    "Arguably"

    "The number of households has increased enormously, up 55 per cent since 1961. The BBC does a lot more with that money, of course, but arguably not 55 per cent more."

    Does it really need to be pointed out what utter bollocks this statement is? In 1961 the BBC's output consisted of one TV channel and three national radio stations. Are you suggesting that its current output is not many times that?

    1. LucreLout Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "Arguably"

      In 1961 the BBC's output consisted of one TV channel and three national radio stations. Are you suggesting that its current output is not many times that?

      In 1961 they had one national TV station and three national radio stations *with no repeats*. Are you suggesting that its current output can even live up to that?

    2. Mike Dimmick

      Re: "Arguably"

      BBC tv also broadcast for fewer than 12 hours a day on weekdays and Sundays, in 1961. It only started up before midday on Saturdays.

      You can find schedules at the BBC's Genome site, which has scans of the entire Radio Times archive.

  7. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Can we expect something similar every time BBC funding is discussed?

    Well, there is a time-honoured tradition of discussing BBC funding through a Green Paper on a non-partisan basis and much (though admittedly not all) of the "emotional incontinence" has been directed at the cosy, back-room dealings which led to this outcome.

    Whatever the level of funding the BBC receives, I think it's a legitimate matter of concern if that funding is decided in private meetings that treat the BBC as an arm of government and turn it into an agent of government social policy.

    I'm less immediately concerned at the value-for-money the public is getting from the BBC than the value-for-money the goverment thinks it's going to get from this murky process.

  8. Tromos

    Does this mean they can afford to get back the rest of Formula 1 that they allowed Sky to plunder?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      @ Tromos

      I doubt it. Those damn capitalists with their inferior broadcasting, intolerable adverts with huge salaries and loathed by people everywhere somehow seem to have more money by presenting shows people will pay to watch even with advertising slots. The BBC would have to stop walking off with the taxed money to afford content people really want.

  9. Captain Underpants

    While I understand what you're trying to get at by pointing out the lack of democratic "accountability" (har har har) implicit in positions in the House of Lords, it's also important to remember that members of the House Of Commons have a certain tendency of pushing measures that weren't on their manifesto and which are manifestly against what the electorate actually wants (see Theresa May and the damn Snooper's Charter for example). So it's not quite as simple as saying "Oh those damn toffs in the House Of Lords, interfering with democracy again", because on numerous occasions the HoL has been the only effective barrier to barmy ideas that an interested party has managed to push past the HoC...

    As for the argument that cost models should reflect usage/consumption ...well, that's effectively the old "Democracy gets you beer and pizza for dinner every night" argument, or "The public interest doesn't necessarily equate to what the public is interested in" to put it another way. I don't see any other funding model allowing the BBC to remain valuable and useful (IMO) in its current form.

    Hell, just look at streaming services in the UK. If the Beeb hadn't been able to roll out iPlayer despite whingeing from ISPs keen to get paid yet again for services that they already get paid for, I doubt we'd have seen any other broadcasters bother with streaming catchup services or Netflix & Amazon rolling out the on-demand offerings.

    Having said that, the changes to cover iPlayer access etc are going to be very interesting - presumably this means they'll move away from the ridiculous "only if it's plugged into the mains" clause they used to have (otherwise employers and anyone else providing public wifi access can look forward to an even more fun time trying to deal with it).

  10. Mark Wilson

    Good Value?

    "Today, the BBC is already a subscription service and is very good value compared to Netflix."

    Not convinced of that, it is twice the price of Netflix, which has a much bigger catalogue of older stuff to watch and is increasing its new content, compared to aunty which is reducing its new content and only allows a limited section of it back catalogue to be viewed online. I don't pay Netflix as I don't use it but I do pay the TV licence fee as my son watches an independent kids channel but the law is such that we have to pay that impoverished BBC even though we do not make use of it's services. Really doesn't sound like good value to me.

  11. Jediben

    My VPN is relishing the thought of streaming iplayer programmes in spite.

  12. SuccessCase

    What!!! Andrew, do you really think the BBC won, a showdown where it was George Osborne's choice as to what policies he implemented (hardly the conditions for a showdown)? The BBC have been totally and utterly out-manoeuvred.

    It used to frustrate me that Labour would play the game of saying, "we will use tax on x to pay for y." The reality is of course, if x can't be collected, then the amount is a net subtraction from the whole of the government budget as it run's across everything. When, as a politician, you say "I'm using x to pay for y," really you are just cherry picking an emotive y to make it appear as though taking x is justified and there is a sense of course (but only a sense), in which the argument holds water.

    The Tories are beginning to use the same trick. But Osborn has gone further. By saying he is taking BBC budget to pay some of the welfare bill, he's executing a jujitsu like move, employing the BBC's liberal bias against them. The "use x to pay for y" trick makes it appear, if the BBC argue, as though they are hypocritically valuing the benefit of .e.g Eastenders higher than the value of e.g. benefits for the disabled. The BBC will be tying themselves in knots trying to answer that one (even though it is a trick for the weak minded - the BBC have been doing the same themselves for years, and know how well it works). It seems Hall knows the game is lost on that score and didn't even starting to make the argument.

    But more than that, Osborn has made it appear as though he's being beneficent by saying the BBC will be allowed to charge for the iPlayer. But really he has laid a massive bear trap that means they have been opened up to subscription competition. It's no sure thing the BBC will get many subscribers for iPlayer. Indeed the likelihood is that they will get rather fewer than many might think (I work in the digital television industry, and the word is the iPlayer is bombing as compared with competition). They will be competing with Netflix and the like, and modern streaming services are proving very popular, host some great drama, and have also moved into the production of very well executed original content. Use of the BBC iPlayer is almost dead amongst our student population (e.g. the next generation - and the BBC should be very worried indeed about this trend) and that's even though currently it is free to use.

    If the BBC failed to say thank you they are making it clear they are scared of competition and didn't feel they could sufficiently compete (in which case why should they be getting the funding they currently are). So Hall has plumbed for stepping in Osborne's bear trap, putting on a brave face and said a very public "thanks". But once they start charging a subscription, then they will firmly establish the principle that their funding can be obtained by a fair subscription rather than a regressive flat tax. Osborne has successfully started to lever the limpet away from state tax (as to all intents and purposes the license fee is). Now Osborne has succeeded in getting a knife under the limpet's skirt, extreme pressure will be applied from here on out!

    So the BBC's funding have been cut, with an arbitrary but cleverly presented comparison with welfare budget and they have been offered the opportunity to make up the shortfall in a context where they will have to compete on a commercial playing field and where there is no guarantee they will succeed, and where tactically in the long term, when it becomes clear they aren't competing, they will find it very difficult to say "we need to be bailed out with a bigger proportion of our funding via the license fee"

    It seems Osborn is playing something of a tactical long game, and he's doing it rather well. It's cynical, but it's the kind of tactics Labour have been playing for years (Gordon Brown's tax credits being a good example).

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      @SuccessCase

      What you said should, in my view, be comment of the week.

      Were the BBC commercially minded, they'd have sold TopGear rather than fire Clarkson, effectively ending their primary content derived income stream (Evans will be the death of the show). They'll struggle with the shift of mentality required, and while it'll be a shame to see them struggle, this is very much a course of action they've brought on themselves.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Boffin

      @SuccessCase nailed it

      @SuccessCase

      Yours is the first analysis I've seen that nails what is really being played out here. This isn't about free TV licenses for old folks. One comment (Chris Ship, ITV News) nailed the superficial aspect of this, "Will the Government demand Energy Companies pay the winter fuel allowance, and Stagecoach pays the free bus pass". Before anyone says these companies don't get an equivalent of License fee money; among other things, the former gets subsidies for green energy and the latter subsidies for provision of services that cannot be run commercially - all paid for through mandatory taxation even if it isn't directly attributable in the way the license fee is. The former already has precedent for Government raids through funding energy efficiency schemes in private homes.

      As you point out the real play here is a stealthy and tactical move that would push the BBC into a corner with regard to moving to some form of subscription model the BBC's critics (of which Orlowski is a typically vocal one) often demand, by allowing the BBC to require some kind of payment to watch non-live streams on iPlayer. I'm not aware whether this would require a separate subscription or simply requires a TV license but my understanding is it would be the latter not the former. As you say - once it's established a fee (i.e. TV license) must be paid for access to iPlayer catch up streams (whereas before no license was required and use was free since it wasn't live) it undermines the existence of the License fee for the reasons you cite.

      My response to anyone who shouts about how unfair the "Telly Poll Tax" is because they don't watch the BBC is to remind them that advertising is a tax on all of us regardless of what we do. Even though I don't watch ITV, listen to commercial radio, or read a printed newspaper I quietly and unavoidably pay towards all of these through the money my supermarket, bank, power supplier, phone manufacturer and others spend on advertising. Unless I manage to track down businesses that don't advertise (an activity made harder by its very nature) I'm paying for all these services whether I want to or not. At least with the BBC I can ditch the telly and cancel the TV License!

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: @SuccessCase nailed it

        @ paulf

        "Will the Government demand Energy Companies pay the winter fuel allowance, and Stagecoach pays the free bus pass"

        The energy companies shouldnt have to pay for the incompetent energy policy of the labour gov (and that is not in any doubt). The bus pass one is potentially more fuzzy.

        "My response to anyone who shouts about how unfair the "Telly Poll Tax" is because they don't watch the BBC is to remind them that advertising is a tax on all of us regardless of what we do"

        And your response is entirely wrong. A tax is taken without choice. For example I cannot choose to watch other channels without being forced to pay the TV tax. Advertising is based on successful (that is an important difference) commercial activity which advertises the presence of products that people actually choose to pay money for. We dont have to buy the advertised products. They have the money to advertise due to their popularity of people choosing to spend on the services/products. NOT A TAX.

        "Even though I don't watch ITV, listen to commercial radio, or read a printed newspaper I quietly and unavoidably pay towards all of these through the money my supermarket, bank, power supplier, phone manufacturer and others spend on advertising"

        And you will as long as it brings more people in to willingly pay them for products and services. And you can choose not to! You can choose! You could shop outside of supermarkets with no advertising overheads (I do), get a bank account you dont pay for, choose a smaller power supplier not on the telly, buy a small brand phone. You may not like what they have to offer compared (or yet you might) but its your choice.

        "At least with the BBC I can ditch the telly and cancel the TV License!"

        You can also shop at a local market, work for cash, switch off your electric, not buy a mobile, etc and not pay money to advertising. Although you can still get such services without a competitor taking from your pocket for a service you do not want or use. Unlike the TV license

      2. phil dude
        Thumb Up

        Re: @SuccessCase nailed it

        @paulf - a nice analysis - once subscriptions arrive, the license is DOA.

        P.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: @SuccessCase nailed it

        "My response to anyone who shouts about how unfair the "Telly Poll Tax" is because they don't watch the BBC ..."

        Mine is to ask them if they listen to BBC radio stations.

        They usually do.

        As do those who claim not to watch TV at all.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @SuccessCase nailed it

          @ Alan Brown

          "Mine is to ask them if they listen to BBC radio stations.

          They usually do.

          As do those who claim not to watch TV at all."

          Not at all. I dont actually bother with any radio to be honest so that isnt a failing of the BBC.

  13. jviddy

    I'm a huge fan of the BBC and feel that they create some of the best programming in the world.

    Their coverage of events such as Wimbledon, the World cup, Glastonbury and the Proms, along with great programs such as Sherlock and Top gear (which whatever your view on the host, features some of the best cinematography outside of a David Attenborough nature documentary), and their excellent Radio stations (i'm a Radio 2 and 5Live man myself, but other stations are available) is unmatched.

    That's not to mention their online presence which includes their amazing website and the fantastic iplayer.

    All of this for the cost of 2 months of a sky subscription and without having to sit through masses of adverts every 10 minutes.

    I think we're lucky to have the BBC and i'm happy to chip in my few quid to keep such a great service running

    1. Slartybardfast

      It's a shame I can't up vote you more than once.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      @ jviddy

      "I think we're lucky to have the BBC and i'm happy to chip in my few quid to keep such a great service running"

      And if we are lucky you will have to chip in a few more quid as the people who dont watch it dont have to pay for it. And we would be more than happy for you to continue enjoying the advert free television on your own dime and not the rest of us who spend enough on our choice of TV while having to pay an additional 2 months of sky subscription so you can have your 'unmatched', 'amazing', 'fantastic' and whatever other words you fancy service.

      I remember paying out the extra on TV tax just to watch some quality TV from sky. Now I do neither.

  14. Dan 55 Silver badge

    The Grauniad says that over-75s will cost the BBC £750m in 2020, which will be a fifth of its income. In return they can increase the licence fee in line with inflation.

    Moving BBC3 over to iPlayer only is forecast to save £30m, so yes, finding £750m out of the licence fee for over-75s is a pretty big cut.

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jul/06/osborne-slashes-bbc-budget-pay-over-75s-tv-licences

  15. Matthew Smith

    Good

    Hooray for the BBC. The TV license costs me £145 per annum. Sky would cost me £240, with adverts. The BBC gives me quality dramas, and the science and technology documentaries that no one else produces. Hard hitting journalism on the other channels has just been reduced to 'Benefit immigrants in a bedsit'. The BBC license is a bargain. Pfffft to you.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Good

      Completely agree.

      I like the niche stuff that the BBC produces, such as Only Connect, that just wouldn't be and isn't produced anywhere else in the world.

      1. Jediben

        Re: Good

        ...because it's terrible.

  16. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    "The number of households has increased enormously, up 55 per cent since 1961. The BBC does a lot more with that money, of course, but arguably not 55 per cent more."

    In 1961 the BBC provided one black and white television service, available to approx 90% of the UK, and 3 radio services (which as proved 3 years later were not really in touch with what a large chunk of the population wanted).

    In 2015 the BBC provides something like 8 TV channels, available to something 99.9% of the population, 6-8 national radio services, a plethora of local/regional/provincial radio services, one of the countries (worlds?) most popular websites, a major export market of programming, plus loads more.

    How on earth is that not 55% more?

    A computer/broadband tax though is the thin end of the wedge........

  17. Tsung
    FAIL

    Been saying it for several years

    The TV licence will be changed into a TV & Internet licence (as if you can get internet you can access catch up services). On one hand I think we should just be done with the TV Licence, every household is going to have to pay it soon so just add it to the council tax bill. Think of the saving by not having to send out horrible letters or pay a firm to manage the collection. On the other, I think the BBC should be forced to content protect everything (I-Player, TV broadcast) and only those paying the licence fee should be able to gain access (no need to enforce, criminalise or go after non-payers).

    Sky / VM are able to do it with their channels (Movies / Sports) I cannot see any reason why Freeview / Freesat can't ? Only reason for not doing it is to keep the TV Tax cash cow alive.

    1. druck
      Thumb Down

      Re: Been saying it for several years

      Tsung wrote:

      On one hand I think we should just be done with the TV Licence, every household is going to have to pay it soon so just add it to the council tax bill. Think of the saving by not having to send out horrible letters or pay a firm to manage the collection.

      TV licence collection rates are vastly better than council tax collection rates. If was up to your district council to collect the money, the BBC would have a quarter of its income slashed.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most People won't opt out. Really?

    Really? I opted out 10 years ago and can honestly say was the best decision I ever made. I really don't miss it.

    Growing up, the BBC used to about content and the technology to deliver that content, they sat at the heart of Britain's technological race for years.

    They should (at the time) have pushed for an iPlayer streaming model/bundled with a universal broadband package for all, instead of the heading down the 'short-term' digital switchover - top set box model, which is already all but redundant, in terms of tablet viewing.

    The transmission airwaves could have been resold/reused to aid the roll out of blanket mobile broadband, especially in rural areas, subscriptions could have been enforced, and would have given basic universal broadband for all, aiding the takeup of digital services used by Gov.

    The BBC are now just another streaming service now, like Netflix going forward, that's the model they're chosen/ended up with and should be 'brave', stand on their own two feet, take the subscription model and attempt to produce content that people actually want to watch, not just to cheaply fill the schedule, as they do now. Bargain Hunt anyone?

    BBC just seems to be run by a bunch of desperate tw.ats willing to pay Chris Evans millions (who's competent, but average), because they too scared to look for new talent further than then end of their 'buried in sh.it' noses.

  19. Necronomnomnomicon

    The BBC does less than 55% more than it did in 1965?

    So going from two channels that shut down overnight and a handful of radio stations to ten channels, most of which are 24/7, the iPlayer, a dozen or so radio stations as well as everything else on their website, plus all the odds and sods that come along with that? A mere 55% higher doesn't seem to do that much justice, regardless of what you might think of the quality. Pish!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The BBC does less than 55% more than it did in 1965?

      Don't forget the micro:bit, the BBC Domesday Project (beat Street View by two decades), and the BBC Micro...

  20. knarf

    Yeah its a tax operated by thugs

    A Polish bloke who used to work here had no interest in TV broadcast or streamed and was forever getting letters from them demanding money for a licence and BBC thugs at his door demanding to see his living room, which he dutiful showed him.

    He does have a few PCs and broadband connection which will likely cost him as he could stream if he wanted to, so its really a Computer / Phone / Broadband tax

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: Yeah its a tax operated by thugs

      I am also wondering after reading that article does this mean I have to pay the tax because I have a computer/phone/tablet ?

      Neither comments or article have been very insightful yet

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Yeah its a tax operated by thugs

      "...and BBC thugs at his door demanding to see his living room..."

      Which he had every right to refuse to show them unless they could produce a court order.

      I had one attempt to stick his foot in the door when I closed it on him. He regretted it and the cops sided with me on the issue.

      I do have a license, but they've been accusing me of not having one for years. I'm still waiting for them to try and prosecute as I've been keeping all the licenses and demand letters. It will be good to get their incompetence and flat out harrassment tactics aired in a courtroom.

  21. jason 7

    But....

    I and many others don't watch BBC stuff anymore!

    The BBC is living on past faded glories...

    1. Yugguy

      Re: But....

      I and many others DO watch BBC stuff.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: But....

      As I mention further up:

      "I don't watch ITV, listen to commercial radio, or read a printed newspaper yet I, unavoidably, pay towards all of these through the money my supermarket, bank, power supplier, phone manufacturer and others spend to advertise on these services. Unless I manage to track down businesses that don't advertise (an activity made harder by its very nature) I'm paying for all these services whether I want to or not. At least with the BBC I can ditch the telly and cancel the TV License!"

    3. Northumbrian
      Megaphone

      Re: But....

      "The BBC is living on past faded glories..."

      If that were so, then I don't think that the Murdochs et al would be nearly as bitter about the Beeb as they are.

      However, like a number of others who comment on this topic (here and elsewhere) you tend to assume that the BBC is really just its TV output. There is also the website - which is much more than just the news. There are the national radio channels, local radio, the world service, schools broadcasting, the OU and even the stable of magazines.

      The TV Licence is not compulsory if you don't have a TV (and remember you can use ditch the TV and still use the radio and the website and - until they try and change it, iPlayer). But if you do pay it, this "tax" goes towards a fair number of services which you would think would be part of government and, therefore, supported out general taxation.

      The world service is the most cost-effective way of maintaining British prestige and influence abroad - it keeps the network of Brits abroad in touch and acts as a standard for those values which we otherwise uphold by sending young men into deserts to die. That there are still regimes which make listening to the BBC a criminal offence is a matter of pride to me.

      I am convinced that the World Service and the BBC website, together with the OU, help to keep alive the prestige of British education and funnel into our universities all those earnest Chinese and Malayan students who bring so much money into the country's education system - there's many a university which relies on their fees to stay afloat.

      And from - whenever - the licence fee payer will also be paying through that bit of "taxation" what Osborne has just taken out of general taxation - the service to the elderly which the TV and the radio provide. There is a good social reason for giving free TV licences to the elderly - social isolation is a serious problem for both psychological and physical health and having a TV to watch is an important ameliorating factor.

      Osborne has been particularly clever here. On the one hand he can say to the "hard-working families" (I gather no families in work are anything except industrious) that they are no longer having to support one of the "pensioner perks" - rah-rah for Osborne, G. On the other hand he can watch smugly (and Osborne, G. does smug very well) as Tory Central Office assures the right-wing press that the Conservatives do SO agree that the licence fee is an unfair subsidy to the BBC, which they would love to abolish - (whether the abolition would be that of the BBC or the licence depends on the audience, I imagine) just give them time. Leaving aside the fact that some 20%+ of that fee now goes towards supporting the government's social policies towards the elderly.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: But....

        @Northumbrian:

        The World Service and BBC world are both directly govt funded, as are BBC international radio broadcasts.

        TV licensing is for stuff consumed in-country.

        I don't agree with the way it's collected, but it's fairly good value for money.

        What I do object to is that overseas sales of stuff which was produced from license fee money isn't ploughed back into the system to reduce the license fees. Ditto franchise fees for BBC-originated programs.

        Top Gear being a prime example. The UK show earns at least 10 times more from foreign sales than it costs to make and on top of that there are franchising fees rolling in from a number of countries with their own versions.

        Most shows featuring David Attenborough are similarly profitable.

        What the BBC _shouldn't_ be doing is trying to produce soap operas. There are already innumerable examples on tv, why add yet another one?

  22. cegueira

    Not doing 55% more?

    So what's the argument that it's not doing 55% more than in 1961? More TV channels, more radio stations both local and national. More regional news, a website and iplayer.

    1. Tromos

      Re: Not doing 55% more?

      Bear in mind that the TV licence in 1961 was £3 (plus £1 duty), so one could reasonably expect more channels and all the rest before the 55% is factored in. A good start would be cutting out the endless repeats and putting more of the back catalogue on iplayer.

  23. John Robson Silver badge

    Expanded it onto computers...

    It has been on computers for a long while - anything watched live is subject to the Licence fee.

    Or are they now trying to claim it for on demand content - just iPlayer or anything?

    1. Daniel Hutty

      Re: Expanded it onto computers...

      @John Robson - yes, that's exactly what they're doing - see my other post.

      My only guess as to why this has received relatively little coverage in the media is that the budget contained so many other resounding "f-you"s to the poor, that this one snuck through hidden among the bigger ones...

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Expanded it onto computers...

        @Daniel Hutty

        There were no posts visible when I posted my comment.

        But your "yes" doesn't really help with regard to the iPlayer or everything question.

        Other posts (may be yours, I can't see them now that I'm replying) imply that it's iPlayer only.

        Oh well. I'll just drop iPlayer from my NowTV box(es).

        1. Daniel Hutty

          Re: Expanded it onto computers...

          @John Robson

          Apologies for the confusion - I misread your post as saying "like iPlayer or something", in which case the "yes" would have made sense. My bad!

          Also, I'm confused about how my posts appeared in reversed order - possibly the order they were moderated in? The post with the link to, and quote from, the HuffPost article was actually posted first, that's what I was referring to.

          To be honest none of us can be sure whether this will be iPlayer only, or all on-demand services; this is a proposed change to the legislation, the wording of which has not yet been published. However, I could easily see it being more wide-reaching; after all, the license fee as it stands doesn't just apply to those watching *BBC broadcasts* live.

          If you watch, or record, *any* broadcast TV as it's being broadcast, via any medium - even if it's produced and broadcast from outside the UK - you are subject to the license fee. So, when they extend it to cover non-live broadcast, what's to say they'll restrict *that* to BBC-produced content? It could well cover All 4, ITV Player etc.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Expanded it onto computers...

            @Daniel Hutty

            Easy enough to misread ;)

            I've no idea what order posts arrive in, or what the time delay is, it seems somewhat variable.

            Legislative change - hooray, so it'll be screwed up whatever it is...

        2. Northumbrian
          Happy

          Re: Expanded it onto computers...

          "But your "yes" doesn't really help with regard to the iPlayer or everything question."

          I don't think that the Chancellor made it clear exactly what he expects the BBC to do - probably this is just an agreement in principle that "the online thing is a loophole and we'll have to do something about it."

          In that case, I wouldn't worry, since their track record on loophole closing is like God's on closing doors - famously whenever he does so he opens a window. (Surprised his systems don't crash more often).

          It will probably take legislation and not come into effect for 18 months anyway - so I'd leave any boxes unchanged for the moment.

  24. jviddy

    Well worth the money

    I'm a huge fan of the BBC and feel that they create some of the best programming in the world.

    Their coverage of events such as Wimbledon, the World cup, Glastonbury and the Proms, along with great programs such as Sherlock and Top gear (which whatever your view on the host, features some of the best cinematography outside of a David Attenborough nature documentary), and their excellent Radio stations (i'm a Radio 2 and 5Live man myself, but other stations are available) is unmatched.

    That's not to mention their online presence which includes their amazing website and the fantastic iplayer.

    All of this for the cost of 2 months of a sky subscription and without having to sit through masses of adverts every 10 minutes.

    I think we're lucky to have the BBC and i'm happy to chip in my few quid to keep such a great service running

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well worth the money

      Of course, other countries without a TV tax refuse to air new shows, and nobody shows sport events or music. Thank god we have a mismanaged monopoly to do it for us!

  25. Daniel Hutty

    Not just live TV, soon - "catch-up" included

    Source: Huffington Post, July 6th 2015

    "All users of BBC iPlayer's catch-up service will have to pay the £145.50 licence fee, the Government announced today.

    In a big blow to many households without TVs, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said that he would bring forward legislation swiftly to allow the Corporation to charge for the first time for those who replay programmes on demand."

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: Not just live TV, soon - "catch-up" included

      At least if they get the tech right, they can sell overseas (avoiding the 'free' VPN opt out)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licence?

    Just say no

  27. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    WTF?

    Dazed and confused

    To take up the "drive-by shooting" metaphor, I had expected a (small) majority Conservative Government to approach the BBC at Charter renewal time and deliver "two to the heart and one to the head".

    Instead, the hit man seems to have tossed them a brown envelope and sped off saying "You ain't seen me, right!"

  28. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    not really bothered how the establishment propaganda service is funded, but I wish they'd stop sending people round who want to search my house for a non existent TV. it's like something out of Romania in the eighties.

  29. Robigus
    Pint

    Public service remit

    Another anti-BBC polemic from Mr. Orlowski.

    Of course this article is not designed to actually come to any realistic conclusions, it's a bit of tabloid mock-anger.

    Do stop to think, fellow Registerittes*, that you're making valid comparisons; Netflix and co., whilst undoubtedly good at what they do have a very limited remit. The BBC has to cover all sorts, from children's programming (that aren't glorified toy adverts), to those that follow their parent's deities, from sport to education and public engagement.

    Sky has managed to successfully convince people that by taking something away that was already available to everyone and putting it behind a paywall with adverts and, I don't know dolly birds? explosions? people with voices that sound like they do film advert voice overs? endless opinions and speculation, stringing it out with chat panels around the content, that they're actually getting a good deal. Wow. And they're considerably more expensive than the license fee.

    It's Friday. Forget of all this click bait nonsense and do booze instead.

    * Registreens/Regeneestas/Registras* - Hmmm, that thread is possibly more interesting than the written comment.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Public service remit

      "Another anti-BBC polemic from Mr. Orlowski."

      No one is forcing you to agree with Andrew.

      C.

    2. tin 2
      Thumb Up

      Re: Public service remit

      Another excellently well thought out post on this forum, on this subject of all things. The Sky point is an excellent one that's almost always forgotten. And claim a decidely odd apparently reg-penned defence to boot! bonus!

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Public service remit

      "Another anti-BBC polemic from Mr. Orlowski."

      This isn't just wrong, it's wrong in a quite interesting way.

      Assuming I am "anti-BBC" presumes two things, and then assumes everyone who disagrees with these presumptions is either morally defective, or stupid, or both.

      Presumption #1)

      "If the BBC is made to do something it doesn't want to do, British TV gets worse"

      British TV can be very good. The BBC has historically contributed to making great TV, as have other companies, once they were allowed to. Today, you don't even need to ask permission to make great TV. Lots of excellent science TV being made today is not even broadcast.

      The primary goal of any examination of British TV should be how to make British TV better, not how to preserve this or that institution or corporation.

      When the BBC was a broadcast monopoly it fought the introduction of ITV tooth and nail, and the newspapers backed it up. What followed was a renaissance in British TV and the BBC itself. Sometimes what the BBC wants to do isn't best for the BBC. Sometimes what the BBC hates and fears turns out to be very good for the BBC.

      Presumption #2:

      2) "A flat rate TV tax is the only way to fund the BBC and any change in that is bad for both the BBC and British TV".

      The BBC could be enormously richer and financially secure if restrictions on how it operated and how it raised revenue were removed. Many of the fairness complaints would also disappear. The people who oppose the lifting of these restrictions tend to be major commercial rivals - not me. A wealthier BBC could bid for sports rights that are out of reach today. It could offer far more diverse programming than it does today. Ways of making the BBC richer that the present BBC management fears should not prevent these being discussed.

      The commenter's presumptions are not just childish, but sentimental.

  30. tin 2

    Loving all the people (government included I presume) who think the BBC should/will be able to go subscription only at some point. Nobody can explain how the technology for that would actually work in practice.

    Also love the government thanking the BBC for resucing digital terrestrial - sure as hell it wouldn't have survived as a commercial venture after ondigital - thus enabling big chunks of spectrum to be re-sold by giving them a royal shafting.

    Short sighted? not much.

  31. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    They should go International

    Rather than license their content one show at a time to other foreign networks and broadcasters, just set up a system where people in foreign lands can pay a fee to have direct, unfettered access to everything BBC offers.

    They'll need to bring the Content Delivery Networking companies in to support the bandwidth demands.

    They'll need to consider geographical licensing issues when negotiating deals. The odd black out might be necessary.

    They'll need to ignore nations complaining about it.

    It would bring in billions, maybe.

  32. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    There's two huge problems with iPlayer

    First is the abysmal lack of the BBC owned back catalogue where they own the rights.

    Second is the almost total lack of new content for more than a short time because the BBC make so little new stuff now. Huge swathes of BBC production was spun out into new production companies made from redundant BBC staff in a move to spread the wealth and work outside of the BBC and London This has lead to the unintended consequence of the BBC no longer owning the productions.

  33. Stuart Halliday
    Megaphone

    Best value for my money.

    The Beeb provides excellent quality TV, radio and Internet services. Not to mention the other off-street services.

    It's the best in the World so why play around with it?

  34. RedAnt

    Shifting socail policy to the BBC?

    I'm certainly don't give unqualified support to the BBC, and think it's a national scandal that people are jailed for not paying the license fee, but at least some of the outrage mentioned in this articles was directed at the fact that the Government had moved a significant social welfare cost to the BBC. A policy that was implemented without any scrutiny or reference to Parliament. So that aspect of policy is no longer a concern of Ministers, who are directly answerable to MPs, but to a public corporation. That's £750 million pounds of spending on welfare that's now out side of the control of our elected represented and not reflected properly in public spending figures.

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