By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns
The new chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp, has described the licence fee as the "least worst" way of funding the BBC and has said that he opposes decriminalisation. He also thinks that the licence fee is "terrific value". That depends on how much BBC content one consumes. I seldom listen to BBC radio. The same can be said for BBC television. We mostly watch programmes on Netflix, which, for us, at £5.99 a month really does represent terrific value.
When I was a child, the BBC's main rival was ITV. How things have changed. The BBC's main rivals now are Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix, for example, spends millions of pounds per episode on series' such as The Queen's Gambit - a drama about a young female chess player. The BBC cannot compete, and when it comes to 2027 (the year its Royal Charter is due for renewal) may eventually realise that the licence fee restricts its creative output.
I have said it before and will say it again: the licence fee is an analogue funding solution in a digital world. When it comes to 2027, live television schedules as we know them may not exist. The BBC needs to get real to ensure its survival.