Thoughts on the TV License

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The “number of televisions”* line got my attention. It was in a comment on a Facebook post that was talking about the TV License. If anyone cares, here are my thoughts - as a Brit living in London, UK who feels that the TV Licence is worth it. If I say anything that’s inaccurate, I’m happy to be corrected.

*Person who made that comment is forgiven, as I don’t think he’s British and he does go on to correct himself - The TV License is a single annual fee per household, not a fee per television :P

I believe that the license fee is a good thing in principle. It means no advertising on any of the BBC’s channels or websites. As they don’t need to attract advertisers, they don’t have to worry about not getting the highest ratings. They can take chances on programmes and concepts that might otherwise not see the light of day because of being experimental, unproven or possibly controversial. If I’m benefiting from a service, I don’t mind paying to get more of it. Remember, if something is “free”, then it’s likely that you’re the product.

I guess if we could absolutely guarantee the BBC’s independence and continued ability to do what it does, maybe scapping or lowering the license fee could be possible. But privatisation - from public good to commercial interests - isn’t some magic bullet that’ll make everything better than it currently is and once something is privatised it seems practically impossible to put it back into public hands.

Perhaps the one concern I have - perhaps unwarranted, perhaps not - is to do with the Royal Charter which allows the BBC to exist that has to be renewed every 10 years by the government. One has to wonder if the occasion might allow the government to exert influence so that around that time, would the BBC truly be independent? Allowing the government to hand pick the people who run the BBC sounds like a really bad idea to me.