back to article Swiss see Telly Tax as a Big Plus, vote against scrapping it

Swiss voters have decided to retain the country's costly TV licence in a referendum. 71.6 per cent of voters expressed a wish to keep the Telly Tax, which helps fund the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and over 30 regional TV and radio stations. The licence fee is currently 451 Swiss Franc per year, or around £348 at …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

    If it was the BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - I would have continued paying the tax without grumbling for a split second.

    The current toothless, party line towing useless monstrosity which does not dare raise its voice against the party line to avoid a few more Dr Kellies - screw that (*)

    We might as well reuse its frequencies for something usefull.

    (*)Yeah, I know, as one of Terry Pratchet Night Watch characters put it looking at a corpse with 20-odd knife wounds: "Such a violent suicide"

    1. Snorlax
      Headmaster

      Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

      @AC:"If it was the BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - I would have continued paying the tax without grumbling for a split second."

      Spitting Image was on ITV, which doesn't receive a penny from TV licence fee revenue.

      I once heard the argument from a media type that, by not selling advertising and taking a chunk of that finite pool of money, the BBC was in fact supporting commercial broadcasters.

      Which is of course grade-A bollocks...

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

        I once heard the argument from a media type that, by not selling advertising and taking a chunk of that finite pool of money, the BBC was in fact supporting commercial broadcasters.

        Based on the experience in other countries there is an element of truth in this. For example, in Germany the public stations do carry some advertising (before 20:00) and when it was suggested that they stop this, it was the advertisers who complained that it would both deprive them of some of the market; and drive up the overall cost of advertising by reducing the number of providers. This was the argument when the number of commercial channels was limited but I suspect it still has some merit even in our brave new multi-channel world.

        I'm all for a blanket ban of advertising of advertising and sponsoring on all public service broadcasting services.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

        I once heard the argument from a media type that, by not selling advertising and taking a chunk of that finite pool of money, the BBC was in fact supporting commercial broadcasters.

        Which is of course grade-A bollocks...

        Yes, it is. BBC Enterprises owns UKTV which owns such channels as Dave, Dave Ja Vu etc etc. All of which very obviously sell advertising between BBC programs.

        If the BBC has chosen a corporate structure that makes one part of it a gold mine and another part of it dependent on tax revenue for survival, then it simply needs to restructure.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

          UKTV is only 50% owned by BBC Worldwide. The rest is owned by Scripps, an American concern, at it was formed as a partnership with Thames TV. It shows programming from commercial channels as well as having a large BBC archive to dip into. It's worth contemplating WHY so many BBC programmes are shown on channels such as Dave and Gold... is it because there's a rich archive or material that people want to see? What could be recycled from the ITV archives without causing too much offence? On the Busses is about the most risqué thing that could still be rebroadcast, and that cuts it close to the bone most of the time. Mind you... a rerun of Butterflies might work.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

            Oops. My mistake. Butterflies was a BBC2 comedy. I was sure it had an ad break, but there's the vagary of memory for you. So what ITV comedies does that leave? Not many. There's a fair bit of (crap) crime drama from the ITV stable, though.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

      So you'd be happy to pay the license fee for 80s ITV?

      Hint: Spitting Image was not a BBC programme.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

      "the BBC from the days of ... Spitting Image"

      would that be the ITV program Spitting Image?

      ... ok, I see I'm not the only person here around in the 80s who still has a memory!

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

        The BBC from the 80s was a place where the Today programme set the political agenda for the day, where Panorama did political investigation, where Horizon did science and where Newsnight held ministers to account. Rough Justice investigated miscarriages if justice. Watchdog consumer rights.

        And there was a smattering of decent light entertainment.

        The BBC of today wouldn't say boo to a goose. It's even too scared to hold the government to account for having no plans for the greatest economic and social change in decades.

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

          "The BBC from the 80s was a place where the Today programme set the political agenda for the day, where Panorama did political investigation"

          The Today programme has set the political agenda for most of my life, however Panorama has not featured particularly hard-hitting investigations. The Granada TV series "World in Action" was the one that had the most impact and saw the production team taking the big risks. Panorama was (is) always a little too safe and keen to doff the cap to the BBC's political overlords.

          It's a reasonable bet that any story that someone thinks was broken by Panorama was actually featured in "World in Action" or Private Eye.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

          The BBC of today wouldn't say boo to a goose. It's even too scared to hold the government to account for having no plans for the greatest economic and social change in decades.

          That's because the government of the day -- of whatever flavour -- keeps threatening to defund it.

          You have the choice of a public broadcaster which only occasionally dares speak truth to power, or a commercialised provider which will head even further downmarket in the chase for profit and sooner or later fall into the hands of a Murdoch or a Desmond, becoming little more than a mouthpiece for a billionaire.

    4. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

      "If it was the BBC from the days of Yes Minister...

      ...Terry Pratchet Night Watch characters"

      I did read a story over the weekend which claimed that there is going to be a TV production of Pratchett's Night Watch stories, on the BBC.

      Feel happier to pay it now? It's encouraging, for me at least.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: BBC from the days of Yes Minister and Spitting Image - yes

        Does ITV still produce stuff like World in Action? Or is dumbing down now across the board?

  2. Chris Miller

    Is there anyone under 30 still paying a UK TV licence? The current model is clearly doomed, and will have to move to subscription sooner or later. I'm not necessarily claiming that will be a good thing, just that it's inevitable and the BBC had better be prepared to handle it.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      The current model is clearly doomed

      Without the current model, the BBC ceases to have any purpose.

      In the digital age, anyone can in principle commission shows from production companies and distribute them online, yet even Murdoch has realised that in practice you can only do this profitably at a scale that dwarfs his present media empire. Left to fend for itself as a boutique provider of parochial distraction, the BBC wouldn't last 5 minutes. Shorn of any remit to make "less commercial" programming available to everyone there would in any case be no logic in its continued existence.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        In the digital age, anyone can in principle commission shows from production companies and distribute them online

        They could, but like anything else on the Internet stuff gravitates to the big providers.

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      The obvious route for the BBC is to simply run netflix style and fully digitalise their catalog, making them a corporate monster that would be tricky for anybody else to compete with.

      However, as soon as they do this then their DVD sales basically vanish overnight and it becomes rather difficult to sell that back catalog to other broadcasters, which presumably is why they haven't done it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This. As a longtime netflix subscriber (with Amazon prime to boot) I haven't paid TV license for many years, and don't see why anyone would. As the exemption is basically 'don't watch TV or iplayer' I'm pretty sure that's the entire 'youf' of today. They will eventually have to keep raising it or just switch to a voluntary model.

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      "Is there anyone under 30 still paying a UK TV licence?"

      I was about to say 'yes', and then remembered quite how long ago 30 was :(

  3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    It was a vote against their abolition

    It was a vote against their abolition, not a vote of approval for the Swiss braodcaster .

    The Swiss were given a stark choice — either abandon the licence fee (and with it the state broadcaster) or not. There was no middle ground for reform of the broadcaster, reduction of the horrendous licence fee or anything like this.

    And the likely alternative had the broadcaster had its funding taken away from it would have been Switzerland's favourite demagogue, who has been using his wealth to buy up newspapers. It would mean that the journalistic landscape would be less critical of the aformentioned demagogue's political party, the cute'n'cuddly SVP. They are, em, a People's party (The 'V' in their name stands for 'Volk'), and we know how fond of criticism People's parties are. They are Switzerland's version of the U.S. Republican Party.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: It was a vote against their abolition

      One of the, argued, reasons for the cost being so high in Switzerland is that the state broadcaster is forced to broadcast in the 3 national languages.

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: It was a vote against their abolition

        4 languages, btw, you've forgotten the Rhaeto-Romansch langauges in Graubunden.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "the Rhaeto-Romansch langauges"

          Especially them and the Italian cantons were worried about a German/French languages dominated TVs.

    2. Nifty

      Re: It was a vote against their abolition

      Stark choice referendum with no middle ground. Now where did I hear about one of these recently, a little closer to our shores?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It was a vote against their abolition

      Meanwhile, in Italy the RAI Canone (obligatory TV license fee) is just over £80 for 2018 and is paid automatically with a tenner on each ENEL ‘leccy bill, until the 90 euros is paid-off. Seems to be a good system.

      There aren’t that many RAI programs worth watching; of my 5 dishes one collects the unencrypted output of the UK on 28 degree E Freesat, one gets the great BADR 4/5/6 on 26 degree E, one Fransat dish on 5W, finally hotbird & astra 19 give the family many more news/views away from the Beeb’s odious gap propaganda.

      The Swiss Billag expensive TV license also covers (i.e. is payable even if you only watch onlineTV) , specifically where a subscription is required for access , but seemingly not for random internet browsing or YT and similar. Looks very much like Netflix + Prime might need a Billag subscription. As many Swiss citizens seem to get an annual salary of around triple the UK average, perhaps £380 is a reasonable sum?

      The Swiss broadcasters are however economising, they turned off their last powerful medium wave transmitter due the power costs. It had been broadcasting since 1924 and, fittingly on this ‘license’ discussion, during the late 50’s & early 60’s - Italians could voluntarily subscribe directly to Radio MonteCeneri 558kHz for 3500 lire (about $6 at the time)

      The Swiss rented the mast to rebroadcasting “voice of Russia” for a while in 2012, but finally physically took the antennas down in 2016.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

    ...unless you've got an awful lot of time on your hands.

    Try restricting your household purchases to things that are never advertised on commercial broadcasters, and you'll be spending a lot of time doing research...

    - you can't shop in a supermarket because they all advertise on TV

    - then you'll need to find "unusual" versions of all the products you regularly buy, because most groceries get advertised on TV

    - etc.

    Unlike the BBC, commercial broadcasters are not obliged to give us details of how much income they receive, and how they spend it. But I reckon if you were to add up the portion of your household bills that ends up being spent on TV advertising, it would be surprisingly large.

    "Freedom of choice" is a tired argument. Yes, we can choose which products we buy, but no, we cannot reasonably hope to buy nothing that has been advertised on TV.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

      I never see adverts so not a clue what companies / products advertise.

      (Anything I want to watch on channels with Ads gets recorded on PVR & watched later, at leisure, with adverts skipped)

      1. Professor Clifton Shallot

        Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

        A very sound policy.

        However the point here is that you are paying for the adverts whether you watch them or not.

        And not just the adverts on the channels / networks you actually consume, but on all the others too.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

      "

      But I reckon if you were to add up the portion of your household bills that ends up being spent on TV advertising, it would be surprisingly large.

      "

      But that would be true regardless of whether the TV licence fee existed or not, so I'm not sure what point you are making. And if we did away with commercial TV, companies would just spend the surplus advertising budget in other ways - newspapers, magazines, billboards etc.

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

        @ Cynic_999 "But that would be true regardless of whether the TV licence fee existed or not, so I'm not sure what point you are making."

        The OP isn't advocating abolition of commercial broadcaster. The point (I think) the OP is making is that it's relatively easy to choose not to fund the BBC by not paying the TV licence; providing you adhere to the consequent restrictions of not watching live TV as it is broadcast and not using iPlayer.

        On the other hand choosing not to fund media outlets that are financed in any part by advertising is one helluva lot trickier as you'd have to avoid buying anything (and from anywhere) that advertises. Take your weekly grocery spend as one example - Even if you limited it to own brand products at your local owner operated corner shop which doesn't even advertise in the local rag you'll probably find their wholesale/supplier organisation (e.g. Happy Shopper, Booker/Budgens, Costcutter etc) do advertising of some form.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

      'Unlike the BBC, commercial broadcasters are not obliged to give us details of how much income they receive, and how they spend it.'

      I thought publicly listed companies had to do that, or do most of the commercial broadcasters not have shareholders?

    4. Likkie

      Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

      Not to mention the fact that commercial broadcasters curate the news and current affairs they inflict upon you to further their own agendas with little or no accountability.

      Here in Australia, we no longer have a TV license fee, funding of our public broadcaster is decided by the government of the day according to some "rules". The ABC is constantly under threat of a "productivity review" especially if the government doesn't like something they broadcast. They are constantly accused of bias, yet time and again have been shown to be fair and balanced by various independent reviewers.

      Once a bastion of hard hitting investigative journalism which held our government to account, they are now a toothless tiger and the commercial offerings here are sycophantic shills pandering to the lowest common denominator.

      Don't let tis happen to your national broadcaster!

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Commercial TV is also a mandatory tax...

        Don't worry. The BBC is far from the independent watchdog that it is supposed to be able to be.

        You'll have to look outside the BBC for any real sharp critique of the government. BBC has been thoroughly declawed. Meek as hell.

  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    This comment section should be good.

    I've brought popcorn.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: This comment section should be good.

      I expect it will simply be a re-run of all the arguments we have already heard before.

      On one side those who think the BBC overall does a reasonable job for what it costs and, on the other side, those who believe the future is streaming and they should only have to pay for what they want to pay for.

      And there will be some Freetards saying people are stupid if they are paying anything at all.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: This comment section should be good.

        Yeah, but my parents made me watch a lot of UK Gold growing up, so I have a soft spot for re-runs.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: This comment section should be good.

          UK Gold are owned by BBC Worldwide.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: UK Gold are owned by BBC Worldwide

            Your point is?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: This comment section should be good.

        "And there will be some Freetards saying people are stupid if they are paying anything at all."

        You forgot 4) the smug bastards who say they don't own a TV, never have owned a TV and "what is a TV anyway?", all posted with their own innate sense of superiority :-)

        1. Justin Case

          Re: This comment section should be good.

          You forgot 4) the smug bastards who say they don't own a TV, never have owned a TV and "what is a TV anyway?", all posted with their own innate sense of superiority :-)

          You got it. That's me. I am insufferably smug, safe in the knowledge I am avoiding the endless stream of mindless pap pumped out over innumerable channels into British households.

          Of course, there's a small niggling doubt, gnawing away, festering in the darkened recesses of my mind, that I might be missing out on something good. Bargain Hunt, anyone?

  6. ratfox Silver badge

    Media and information

    is not a domain where I would be happy to see a cutthroat free-for-all looking for consumer money. That's how you end up with fragmented networks showing a nice mirror of what their viewers think.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Media and information

      But... but... how else will Bill O'Reilly find the high-paying job he so richly deserves?

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Media and information

      They show a mirror of what they think their viewers think. Which is usually what they think. If you can call it thinking.

  7. iron Silver badge

    Good Value

    "a voluntary licence fee would look like good value compared to Netflix"

    Bullshit. My Netflix subscription costs me less than £100 per year, that's approx 2/3 of the cost of the license fee and includes a lot more films and programmes I want to watch than the BBC have on TV or iPlayer. And, I don't have to put up with adverts telling me how wonderful it is to have a compulsory telly tax.

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Good Value

      >"Netflix subscription costs me less than £100 per year, that's approx 2/3 of the cost of the license fee"

      Although you do also have to buy an internet connection to use your Netflix subscription - I'm sure you would buy one anyway, of course, but if the BBC could avoid its obligation to provide a universally accessible service it would be able to make some savings that might bring it slightly closer to the Netflix price.

      The BBC has a lot of obligations that make it a poor candidate for successful market competition but arguably bring some social worth.

      The lack of means testing and the really unpleasant Capita enforcement system definitely need attention though.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Good Value

      a lot more films and programmes I want to watch than the BBC

      And one preference datapoint does not make a commercial argument..

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Good Value

      The licence fee is about £3 a week which I find is pretty good value even if I do watch only a few hours of what I consider good BBC entertainment per week.

    4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Good Value

      Er, dude, a fair amount of content on Netflix was originally created by the BBC. I box set binged the whole of Jonathan Creek on Netflix, after the Xmas special reminded me about it. Dr Who is on there, Sherlock, House of Cards, Peaky Blinders, and while Netflix are home growing some superb series, BBC content definitely provided a step in their ascent.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Good Value

        "Er, dude, a fair amount of content on Netflix was originally created by the BBC."

        So you are paying for it twice? Because that's what you are saying.

        And Dr. Who and Sherlock? BBC is just a melting pot of fresh new ideas, isn't it?

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Good Value

          @AC "So you are paying for it twice? Because that's what you are saying."

          Context, perhaps? The guy I was replying to, was denigrating the BBC while applauding Netflix. I was merely pointing out that a lot of stuff on Netflix was created by the BBC.

          But this was probably beneficial to everyone, myself included, who has 'paid for it twice' in essence, because stuff on iPlayer doesn't last for ever, does it? The BBC broadcast and sell content, so paying to binge a series on Netflix isn't a lot different to buying the DVD Box Set. I get to see content that has expired from iPlayer, Netflix get a customer, and can develop their own content, and no doubt, the BBC got a bung, and can make more content. Remember when the license fee only got you the live broadcast? There was no catch up? Do you expect the same fee to provide a complete back catalogue, available for ever?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Basic maths?

    "The BBC could even afford to lose 20 per cent of households, Elstein argued, if 40 per cent paid double the current licence fee, and 10 per cent paid treble the current licence fee, which is now £150.50. It was a "put your money where you mouth is" challenge."

    So: 20% pay nothing, 40% pay double, 10% pay treble, and presumably the remaining 30% pay the same.

    0.2 * 0 = 0

    0.4 * 2 = 0.8

    0.1 * 3 = 0.3

    0.3 * 1 = 0.3

    Total = 1.4; on this model the BBC receives 40% more than the current revenue. Which I'm sure they would love.

    How about: 20% pay nothing and 80% pay the same. BBC income falls by 20%, but they save this by scrapping game shows, sponsorship of the National Lottery, and a layer of middle management.

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      Re: Basic maths?

      The BBC don't get all of the licence fee anyway. Quite a bit goes for "rural broadband" and other initiatives, at least some of which are provided by the Murdoch empire.

      How about just slashing the licence fee by 20% and giving everything they collect to the BBC?

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Basic maths?

      If you believe the "usual suspects" rants about the BBC, getting more than 20% to pay anything would be a challenge.

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Basic maths?

      "How about: 20% pay nothing and 80% pay the same. BBC income falls by 20%, but they save this by scrapping game shows, sponsorship of the National Lottery, and a layer of middle management."

      And bearing in mind that game shows are about the cheapest to make, what would they replace them with?

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Basic maths?

        "And bearing in mind that game shows are about the cheapest to make, what would they replace them with?"

        A test picture would be an improvement.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Basic maths?

        "And bearing in mind that game shows are about the cheapest to make, what would they replace them with?"

        The Potters Wheel.

  9. Tezfair

    This root issue with the license fee is that the bulk of it is wasted on over priced talent or high production costs. Yes we can all look at the ginger one and say how much he gets, but thats largley because he spreads himself all over different programming.

    I remember him coming from BSB (before BSkyB) so fair play to the guy, he's worked hard and is sucessful. But Mr Evans aside, look at the fees for other people. Some are in the >£1/2m and thats where I have an issue. I care not one jot who presents a program if the program is good. I would have no issue if there was a constant churn of under 30 somethings coming into the industry willing to take a modest fee and slowly push out the money grabbers.

    As I type this, I try to think about what I last watched live on TV, thats any channel, and the fact is that the wife and I work odd shifts so everything is recorded. We watched the first ant and dec saturday night whilst recording this weeks. I too have tried netflix and find that is wholly suited to our needs, hell, we are half way through series 2 of little britain having never watched it the first time around.

    But the point is, the way people consume TV is changing. I could quiet happily not watch live TV based on my viewing patterns and thus have no need for a license, but there will be times, such as Christmas or other holidays when family come to stay and they night watch live TV, thus a license is required. Both my boys are at Uni and neither have a licence, one doesn't watch any TV whatsoever, not even catchup.

    Ultimately, if the BBC went to PPV and scrap the license they would be in shit creak. They know it too based on the popularity of Netflix and they will fight to the end to ensure their TV tax is never scrapped.

    1. Michael M

      What UK BBC 'talent' get in a year is what their American counterparts would expect in a week.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      the bulk of it is wasted on over priced talent or high production costs

      And you (doubtless) have peer-reviewed data to support this? Lets not forget that the BBC licence fee also supports all their radio stations (the 6 national ones plus all the local ones) as well as their TV stuff (national and local).

      And hgh production values == (in general) high production costs. The days when you could make a TV series with some cardboard scenery and a visit to the charity shop are far, far behind us. And I'd rather that the BBC carried on funding high-quality stuff rather than the 'race to the bottom' stuff put out by a lot of the other channels. Yes - they put out some dross as well but. as always, there has to be a balance between populism and quality.

  10. Spanners Silver badge
    Happy

    Libertarianism? - no thanks!

    I think the Swiss voters have shown that the time has not come again* for libertarianism.

    Tax is the fee you pay for living in a civilised society. There are always things that can be improved but, as the most powerful voices come from sociopaths, nothing is going to change where a normal person has the same number of votes as a revoltingly right wing newspaper owner. Yes, you will still get stupid decisions (Brexit, Trump etc) and some will take longer to fix than others but at least the people of Switzerland will still have an independent national broadcaster.

    *Lets wonder where/when/if it has been before.

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    When is a tax not a tax?

    The case for a mandatory tax - which is what a licence fee is really

    It isn't unlike pseudo-taxes such as tobacco duty or national insurance because the money doesn't go to the exchequer but to the broadcaster. This is the key difference and why the model has been admired and adopted worldwide, because at a stroke it insulates the broadcaster from the government and gives it a basis for financial planning.

    A reliable budget and a good charter are essential for programming diversity* and an independent broadcaster also allows for other forms of differentiation other audience size. It has been argued in the past that this is especially important for journalism which is still trying to find it's place in the world of the internet echo chamber.

    * ie. not just sport, reality shows and comedy

  12. Roger Greenwood

    BOFH Series

    That I would pay to see, as discussed elsewhere:-

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2018/03/02/bofh_2018_episode_4/

  13. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Humm

    Going voluntary would be bad news for the Capita collectors.

    This is the only good reason I have heard for getting rid of the licence fee.

  14. hoss183

    Foreigner Tax

    The problem with this is that 25% of the Swiss population are foreigners (like myself), most of which dont have any vote on this matter.

    But yet we are expected to pay an exorbitant fee to subsidize a bloated TV system which broadcast esoteric content for a multitude of small regions and several languages in which we no interest.

    These days are gone of national TV taxes. One should be able to pay for the content we want to watch.

    Let the 75% of real Swiss who want this keep paying for their content under subscription, and let the rest of us 25% pay for our Netflix and Sky subscriptions.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Foreigner Tax

      The problem with this is that 25% of the Swiss population are foreigners (like myself), most of which dont have any vote on this matter.

      As if that were the only thing that the Swiss discriminate over… or as if it was different in other countries. The whole point of the licence fee is to take it out of direct political debate because it is not a programme subscription, ie. paying just for what you want, but media infrastructure including programmes you might not want but need.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Foreigner Tax

        What do we need?

        Didn't BBC just cancel the subscription of Met Office data? (Seems they tried to to save a little money, but had to go back due to the alternative being completely shit. Gives confidence in BBC, doesn't it?)

        We sure as hell don't need BBC paying 100k-400k salaries to people.

        The BBC has proven mostly useless the last decade, with light entertainment crowding out everything that the BBC should be doing.

        I'd say keep BBC, but slash it's funding into half -meaning half the licence fee.

    2. Likkie

      Re: Foreigner Tax

      "The problem with this is that 25% of the Swiss population are foreigners (like myself), most of which dont have any vote on this matter.

      But yet we are expected to pay an exorbitant fee to subsidize a bloated TV system which broadcast esoteric content for a multitude of small regions and several languages in which we no interest."

      So you're happy enjoy whatever benefit if its that drew you to the country but expect to not contribute to the bits you don't like. Such entitlement!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC vs Amazon vs Netflix

    Do I pay a licence? Yes.

    How much BBC content do I actually use though?

    Radio - hardly any if ever. I'm a metal head and 1 show a week (if it's still being broadcast) doesn't cut it.

    TV & iPlayer - Extremely occasional. Dr Who mainly. I can't think of the last thing I actually watched being transmitted OTA since they cut BBC3. Overall I prefer C4's programming although All4's website dependency on flash is a kick in the nuts.

    Website - Here's where my use goes way up. Especially for news. Saw BBC.com when I was abroad a few years ago and I wouldn't want to go back to that.

    Amazon Prime Video is a joke of a service and the apps constantly try to force me to pay to view. I much prefer Netflix's model of paying per month and no hard sell (esp for 4K feeds).

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: BBC vs Amazon vs Netflix

      Do I pay a license fee? Yes.

      How much BBC content do I actually watch though? Loads. most of my viewing is BBC. I'm a big BBC 4 and Radio 4 fan.

      We are even heavily indebted to GCSE Bite Size for refreshing my memory and allowing me to coach the kids exams.

  16. PhilBuk

    Flags??

    So which subby decided that a Swedish flag (on the home page) would be a good picture to go with this article??

    Phil.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      The Swedish flag

      If you are a Brit living in Switzerland it becomes a running gag.

      Visits to Blighty are plagued with the question "How's life in Sweden?"

      You eventually get used to it and simply reply "Fine".

    2. Parash2

      Re: Flags??

      I agree,

      +1

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swiss from Sweden

    Snowden from Swindon, etc.

  18. Wibble

    Short term vs long term

    The BBC does a reasonable job of Educate, Entertain, Inform. They've paid for Blue Planet -- Netfllix and the others wouldn't touch an expensive program like that. Radio 4's a national institution.

    Problem as I see it is you get rid of the BBC and you end up with that stinking pile of utter shite that is Yankee Vision, i.e. pretty much any US TV station. One can see why Netflix et al started in the US -- their existing channels were utter unwatchable bilge interspersed with uncontrolled advertising.

    The other issue is cultural. It's bad enough with the Yankee invasion from the internets. With no alternatives giving a UK / any other country view, we'd just become proxy Americans. Where's my gun I want to be a teacher... Trump's a genius...

    One example is the BBC scrapping their weather website for the utter dumbed down crap run by a third party.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Short term vs long term

      "One example is the BBC scrapping their weather website for the utter dumbed down crap run by a third party."

      Cough. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

      1. Wibble

        Re: Short term vs long term

        Cough. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

        It was down this morning. Too much traffic for the maps to work. The Met Office was also attacked by the hipsters adding frippery over functionality, although the BBC has just turned this up to 11 with their vanity bonfire of a working site -- they've apparently deprecated weather fronts and isobar labels in favour of bandwidth-hogging satellite views.... FFS.

    2. Giles C

      Re: Short term vs long term

      Hmm most of my viewing is BBC and when occasionally I listed to podcasts usually BBC (infinite monkey cage is a good example)

      Watch channel 5 for the WRC, that is it.ITV never, channel 4 never

      BBC4 for science documentaries

      BBC2 for more documentaries

      BBC1 for drama, (Shetland, Strike) and countryfile

      Mind you just finsihed watching collateral and not sure what I just saw....

      So I am very happy to keep the license fee.

      Will say I have Netflix as well that is currently on altered carbon

    3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Short term vs long term

      "They've paid for Blue Planet"

      You know they sell these things to other providers, right?

      It's not as if we get the right to get the 4k discs at cost just because we actually payed for the production of the stuff..

      Why, BTW, doesn't BBC let us have access to the complete archive of older stuff?

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Short term vs long term

      "One example is the BBC scrapping their weather website for the utter dumbed down crap run by a third party."

      FWIW, I think it's a huge improvement. I often travel over a 100 miles from home and being able to see the weather over a much wider area is a huge boon for me, like the BBC site used to do before they switched to highly localised map views with no zoom, scroll or pan options. It's been especially useful this last week being able to see which way the snowfalls are moving. You just don;t get that with the previous tiny little unzoomable maps.

      Even just for local weather, being able to zoom out and watch the movements and patterns of weather over a wider area give one the opportunity to see what's coming more easily.

  19. earl grey Silver badge
    Devil

    would be bad news for the Capita

    Awwww, i feel for them. Anyone else?

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .crickets

  20. handleoclast Silver badge

    And in other news...

    I see only one compelling argument for maintaining some sort of telly tax to fund the BBC. That's the news.

    The days are gone when newspapers had a "Chinese wall" between advertising and content. The days when a newspaper would have a front-page story ripping one of its major advertisers to shreds over its misdeeds, regardless of the financial consequences are just memories Those days went with Maxwell and Murdoch. And even before then the Chinese wall wasn't as strong as some people fondly remember.

    In the US, that Chinese wall is also long gone (if it ever truly existed) as far as TV news goes. TV news in the US is very reluctant to attack its major advertisers. TV news about to fuck over your company? Quick, buy a lot of advertising with them so they'll drop the story.

    The BBC keeps UK TV news a lot more honest than it otherwise would be. The likes of ITN and Sky news do report the misdeeds of their major advertisers. They have to, because they know the BBC will do so anyway. If they ignore the story then people will know they're biased and switch to the BBC for news, so they lose viewers (and advertising revenue). So they report it and hope the advertiser will stay with them (and maybe even buy more advertising in damage control).

    The BBC is why news here is a lot better than in the US. And if you think how bad UK TV news is, just imagine how dire US TV news is.

    As to how we fund the BBC to be free of adverts, that's a different argument. I'm merely pointing out the benefits of the BBC remaining free of adverts even if you never watch it and watch only its competitors.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: And in other news...

      However, if you can read, why do you need TV news?

      I find it a massive waste of time sitting waiting for some talking head to tell me the news, as prioritised by them. It's more like propaganda due to the selection process.

  21. Jan 0

    Yawn

    Trust elReg's closet "free" market Yank to turn a piece on Switzerland into an anti-BBC rant.

  22. julian_n

    The Swiss TV Tax is not the same as UK.

    In UK you can avoid it by not watching programs as they are transmitted and not using BBC iPlayer - an Internet feed and a Netflix account needs no licence.

    In Switzerland, it does - as Internet carries catch-up thus everyone has to pay if they have Internet. Also a radio requires the licence. Next year it will be reformed to one licence per household and reduced to SFr365pa - roughly double the UK fee.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What to expect in court.

    The problem I have with the license fee is not the fee itself. In fact, if you consume BBC content then I think it's good value. However, I will categorically never pay a penny of a TV license fee for several reasons.

    I don't watch live TV. Should get that out of the way first.

    Mostly, however, I am ferociously opposed to BBC and Capita's ludicrously hard-nosed methods of collecting the license fee, which these days are tantamount to threat and extortion.

    The [threatening letters](http://www.bbctvlicence.com/) they relentlessly and indiscriminately send to any household who *dares* to be without a TV license are full of seriously worrying language.

    One of the letters states in bold, hugely oversized red text: "What to expect in court... You will be allowed to take this letter into the court with you."

    Another letter states "You know. We know."

    Bearing in mind that I have not as much as switched on a TV for several years, why the FUCK should I receive letters which are virtually directly accusing me of being a criminal?

    I've received two visits from "enforcement officers" since the beginning of the year (who are entirely legally powerless, by the way, and should be given as much attention as any other cold caller and asked politely to fuck off).

    And that, my friends, with the best will in the world, is why BBC and Capita can lick my balls.

  24. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Holy fragg! Those Swiss are loaded!

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