Monday, December 29, 2008

Imagine getting a bill from Big Bird

If you're in the U.S., you might occasional contribute to Public Radio and Public Television pledge drives.

How would you feel if you got a bill in the mail, whether you wanted to contribute or not?

That's currently the largest burr under the saddle of the U.K.'s Andrew Ian Dodge, of Dodgeblogium and Pajamas Media. (To read more about Andrew's diverse media outlets, click here. We've also been corresponding about music and a few other topics, all of which will be published when I get back from vacation.)

Read this about
a BBC and Channel 4 merger. Get back to us.....

Here's Andrew:

“John Whittingdale MP, the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, criticized the plan for its knock-on effect on the BBC's funding.
"This is essentially a plan aimed at taking public money surreptitiously, because it takes profits away from the BBC, and forces the license fee to go up.
"Channel 4 is keen on it because it thinks that it would be difficult for it to justify taking public money directly."”

This quote will probably shock many people in the UK who care about their television service and the drreaded TV license fee. If someone were to poll British taxpayers a vast majority would have no idea that Channel 4 was not a private concern.

There is much discussion about the licence fee these days in the UK. There is even a strong movement to avoid paying it to either have it reformed or to end it all together. Their inflation beating rises in the tax on televisions and the Stasi-like behaviour of those tasked with collecting it annoy many Britons in the age of 500 channels most of which are not the BBC.

The most recent iteration of fiddling the taxpayers money for television is to combine Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, the part of the BBC that actually makes money. BBCW is the one that flogs their programs worldwide whether it means selling aged sit-coms to Public Television in the US, doing joint ventures with A&E or running the successful BBC America.

Needless to say the BBC is rather against this idea and will fight it tooth and nail. To counter this proposal this BBC is proposing a variety of arrangements with other parts of the public service broadcasting arena. They are clearly worried by all of this, no doubt partly stunkg by the variety of scandals of late whether it be the sacking/suspension of Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand for their behaviour or kicking rubbish but lovable John Sargeant off their “entertainment” program “Dancing with the Stars”.

The public mood is quite poor towards the BBC and the hyenas are circling in various guises. Many believe that the BBC will not retain its current form for much longer. The BBC is merely making its best efforts to keep the damage to a minimum.

And you thought the annual “donation drive” from public television was annoying. Imagine if you had no choice but to pony up every year.

Written by Andrew Ian Dodge with the help of Steve Bettison of the Adam Smith Institute.

Wow. The Adam Smith Institute. Thanks for contributing, guys ! Hope you enjoy contributing to government sponsored programming !


yunshui said...

There is, thankfully, one simple and expedient resource for us Brits who dislike the TV Licence - don't have a TV! By law, you only have to pay the licence fee if you own equipment that is able to receive a terrestrial television signal which originates within the UK. The BBC have cunningly shot themselves in the foot with the BBC iPlayer, which enable you to download digital versions of your favourite shows after they've been broadcast - and since you aren't receiving a TV signal (you're downloading a file from the internet) you don't need a licence to use it.

Granted, I'm basing this on my slightly outdated knowledge of TV licensing law (I stopped working for the TV Licensing Authority a few years back), but to the best of my knowledge they haven't yet caught up with the digital revolution, so to avoid the fee, just bin your TV.

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Read in the voice of the beloved, but nonetheless, publicly subsidized "Children's TV Workshop/Sesame Street" character, 'The Count":

"How many billions vill deez programs cost? ONE! One Billion... TWO! Two Billion... THREE!!...(go on until you count to a billion billion).

It seems like if you have to pay a fee for terrestrial TV signals which originates within the UK... you should contract with a satellite provider which does not have any BBC/UK based programming. May not be able to catch the Liverpool vs. Manchester United match though. That's what pubs are for, mate!

With all that said, we do owe a debt (but hopefully not in the form of a license fee) to British TV for giving us all of America's TV programming: (Til' Death Do Us Part = All in the Family; Steptoe and Son = Sanford in Son; The Office = The Office; Pop Idol = American Idol; the list goes on endlessly!!!).

The Wilted Rose said...

Well said, Andrew. It's an outdated socialist leftover from when the only radio stations (and later TV) were in public ownership - and the BBC still is.

The BBC could be a great company if set free from the shackles of nationalisation, and a bit of market discipline would do it the world of good!

NickM said...

It always amazes me that Americans are shocked by the TV tax.

yunshui, they are already muntering about an ISP tax.