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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

BBC TV Licence Fee: Worse than the Poll Tax

The BBC TV licence is worse than the poll tax, according to the chairman of the influential House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

John Whittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon since 1992, made the comments when he appeared as a panelist on a Question Time style debate hosted by BAFTA.

His comments come only a fortnight after Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, whose Department oversees the TV licence fee, announced that barrister David Perry QC was to lead a review into how effectively the fee was enforced by the BBC.

Mr Whittingdale told the audience: "I think in the long term (the TV licence fee) is unsustainable.

"I think most people, almost everybody, accepts that the licence fee as it currently stands need some tweaking to sort out anomalies.

"People's viewing habits have changed and it needs to reflect that. That's a very simple change and I think people see that.

"You then have the question of whether or not it should remain a flat poll tax, collected through some fairly draconian measures, and whether it should still be criminally enforceable.

"Government has already announced consultation on decriminalisation. I've been looking at other countries and I think there's quite an attractive option of linking it to a specific household tax - maybe council tax.

"I think in the longer term we are potentially looking at reducing at least a proportion of the licence fee that is compulsory and offering choice."

Mr Whittingdale cast doubt on BBC-commissioned research indicating public approval of the TV licence fee, suggesting that the BBC had rigged the outcome by setting its own questions.

"I'm not saying I wouldn't pay the licence fee - I would go on paying the licence fee.

"[But] It is a poll tax. It's actually worse than a poll tax because under the poll tax, if you were on a very low income you would get a considerable subsidy.

"The BBC licence fee, there is no means-tested element whatsoever; it doesn't matter how poor you are, you pay £145.50 and go to prison if you don't pay it."

The BBC's Controller of Drama, Ben Stephenson, who was also present at the session, warned that the BBC would be unable to maintain the same quality of output if the TV licence fee was cut or abolished.


TheKnightsShield said...

I don't see how the licence could ever be a part of somthing like council tax, as council tax is something you have to pay in order to stay living in your home. Television is NOT COMPULSORY, no matter what anyone at the BBC will have you believe. It is a form of ENTERTAINMENT, of which many of us can quite easily live without. Adding it to council tax is just another way of telling people that you MUST pay for a licence, even if you have ZERO need for one.

The BBC are an ENTERTAINMENT and INFORMATION outlet, NOT a government department. How many people would care if they went under?! NOT MANY!! The truth is out there, and it HURTS!!

Fred Bear said...

I agree with TheKnightsShield. There is no real reason for the BBC to be funded by a tax at all.

The technology for the BBC to protect their income (eg. encryption) has existed for decades and with new technology there are other methods. Presumably, the BBC's main output could be made 'on-demand' on payment of a fee or subscription but perhaps with an element of completely free-to-air content thrown in. After all, at the moment, all the BBC's catch-up or on-demand content is given away for free to non-licence fee payers.

TV Licensing Watch said...

" . . and I think there's quite an attractive option of linking it to a specific household tax - maybe council tax. . . "

Just when you think politicians cannot get any stupider, along comes John Whittingdale MP to prove they can!

They can go to Hell with that proposal. Ditch courts enforced BBC TV Tax and link it with courts enforced Clowncil Tax. Madness! Especially considering clowncils and their appalling abuses with RIPA and parking/traffic enfarcement scams.

Subscription funded BBC. What's your difficulty, Whittingdale?

TheKnightsShield said...

I was thinking a bit more about this this morning. Instead of dealing with TVL salesmen, we'd probably be dealing bailiffs, if we were behind on our payments for a council tax-linked tv licence. What the hell would bailiffs have to do with a silly little tv licence?! What does a form of ENTERTAINMENT have to do with housing and general road maintenance?! This whole business of council tax and tv licences makes about as much sense as that nonsense that the BBC came out with a few years ago about having a licence to use the internet. The BBC have their silly little licence fee, so they should shut up and start doing what WE PAY THEM FOR ("we" being the ones who actually pay money to them, that is), not trying to make themselves out to be more important than they are!!

Anonymous said...

Your heading:

"The BBC TV licence is worst (sic)than the poll tax"

The word is "worse".

admin said...

Thanks for that Anon.
Glad to see you're reading so closely!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.