The BBC was in the news today because it is losing funding due to fewer people choosing to pay for a TV licence.
A TV licence is something required by law in the UK before you can watch any live TV, or anything that is being streamed live at the same time it is live on TV (except for Parliament TV which is exempt), or any on-demand content accessed via the BBC iPlayer. The BBC is funded mostly through the TV licence fee.
Ironically, I support the existence of the BBC, however my partner and I do not pay for it. Here are some reasons for that, and some ideas I have for the future of the BBC.
Reasons we don’t pay for the BBC:
- It’s too expensive. We are a low-income family. It currently costs £13.12 a month to access BBC content. Compare that to the £4 a month we currently pay a month to have access to a Netflix family plan.
- The programming quality is hit and miss. The majority of content on the BBC is not for me. In comparison, the majority of the content on Netflix is for me.
- The abdication of responsibility regarding Brexit journalism. The BBC chose to try to be “neutral” on Brexit, but just ended up angering people on both sides of that debate. Facts are facts. The opposite of a fact is not balanced news or journalism. If the BBC is in the business of neutrality, but not facts, people like us are not going to pay for it.
Ideas for the future:
- I think BBC radio performs an important civic function. There are aspects of the BBC websites and BBC News that this is also true for. And I think as long as this is true, our taxes should pay for it. For example, millions of British people rely on the content of Rupert Murdoch’s media companies for their information. This media environment should be better regulated but it’s not, so it persists in its current state. As long as an unhealthy media landscape like this exists, the presence of the BBC provides a useful alternative.
- Entertainment, content, whatever you want to call it, the stuff that isn’t performing a civic function per point 1 above, make that a stand-alone state-owned for-profit media company. Try whatever money-making models you want to, subscription, advertising, become a production house for other streaming services, whatever works. If there is a tension between making political content and the company being state owned & for-profit, then sell the media company. If no one wants to buy it, and the company is losing money, shut it down.
- If the UK Government is uninterested/unwilling to do point 1 & point 2 above, I think they should at least stop making a BBC licence a requirement for watching live broadcasts online that are simultaneously available as live TV channels. It makes zero sense that I should have to pay to watch Al Jazeera streaming online from Doha. Making access to that a BBC licence requirement just fosters resentment and antipathy towards the BBC. And don’t tell me it’s not the BBC that makes the rules, that doesn’t matter, I’m just telling you how I experience it.