Goodbye BBC

21 January 2022
News has come out that the UK's TV licence fee is was to be abolished within the next few years, which as far as I am concerned is not before time. At one point in the distant past I was very much in favour of the BBC but these days the whole television licencing model is an anacronism, funding an organisation that is stuck in the past.

Typical warning letter

Biting the bullet

I am not exactly sure when it was, but sometime between 2005 and 2008 I realised I had only watched television two or three times in the twelve months since I had last renewed my television licence, and with the then-upcoming digital switch-over the equipment I had would need replacing if I was to continue watching television. I was simply not interested enough to make the investment in new digital equipment and/or subscriptions, so I decided to get rid of the television and stop paying the licence fee. It was only when I practically threatened legal action that TVLA finally stopped sending through letters about the absence of a licence for the premesis, and this helped move me from indifference about the BBC to outright hostility. It was harassment, plain and simple. As an aside I since became aware of parliamentary answers that stated that those who do not need a television licence do not need to inform TVLA of this, which is just as well as trying to inform them is a waste of time.

Piles of junk

When I moved into my new flat the mailbox was utterly rammed with all sorts of junk mail, and about half of it was letters from the TVLA about upcoming licencing investigations. If they actually bother making a visit so be it but in the meantime I was not going to waste time and effort getting in contact with them, and on the whole I am far better off with them not knowing my identity. I do question how much money TVLA spends sending out all this junk, which includes custom-designed emvelopes, and some of the actual content is clearly sailing very close to the line with what it says about the actual state of the law. All in the resulting antagonism is just going to accelerate the BBC's demise.

Quality of programs

I used to be particularly enthusiastic about watching BBC News but the quality of BBC output nose-dived ever since the Hutton enquirey whitewash, and I did not rate the other channels any better. ITV's early digital adventure seemed to be a financial disaster since the demographics that watched television were not lucrative advertising targets and even today most adverts I overhear seem to be charities trying to tug heart strings. The coverage of elections by the BBC was noticably bad so in more recent years I usually asked people to put on Sky News instead. BBC's Question Time is now such a blatent excercise in populism and causing arguments that most politicians, in private, utterly hate the show. The only show on BBC I still occasionally watch is Have I Got News For You, which ironically is actually outsourced to Hat Trick Productions.

Broadcast television

The BBC iPlayer is a notable exception but on the whole the BBC is wedded to the broadcast transmisison model, whereas much of the market is now view-on-demand. In fact the only area where the broadcast model has any sort of future is in live sports, and even then the big money is pub subscriptions rather than domestic ones. To me it looks like Sky TV is now pretty much just a sports broadcaster, whereas in the past their main revenue stream was the movie channels. Aside from some international tournaments I don't see much room for the BBC in this market.

The future

Realistically if the television licence fee is to stay it should be rolled up into a levy on television subscriptions, since these days some sort of cable television connection is needed in order watch television at all. However the BBC is desperate to avoid any form of subscription model, and cable television companies themselves don't want to deal with the funding of rivals. The BBC still makes some good content but they will not survive in their current form without the de-facto subsidy of people who watch television but not the BBC, and over the last 15 or so years the BBC has accumulated a lot of enemies. Of course there are vested interests that want the BBC gone and many of them have the ear of the current government, but the BBC has done itself no favours.