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Is the BBC licence fee terrific value for money?

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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. 


What does Oliver Dowden's panel of broadcasting, journalism and technology leaders mean for the licence fee?

 

 

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns 

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, has announced that a 10-strong panel of experts will look at the future of public service broadcasting. In an op-ed for the Telegraph, Mr. Dowden said that "the BBC is just one piece of a bigger puzzle. The world has changed, and every broadcaster needs to change with it. So I’m taking a close look at the future of our entire public service broadcasting system. That includes ITV and Channels 4 and 5 – and S4C in Wales and STV in Scotland, both of which are important to those nations." He also said that the "10-strong panel won’t just be tiptoeing around the edges. They have been tasked with asking really profound questions about the role these broadcasters have to play in the digital age – and indeed whether we need them at all. It is a crucial task, given how central public service broadcasters are to our entire creative ecosystem."

This review is long overdue. Most of the output from the BBC is not public service broadcasting. It's output is very similar to other broadcasters. The Beeb chases for ratings in the same way ITV and Sky do. The rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services means fewer hours of live television are being consumed as each year passes. Who knows what the broadcasting landscape will look like in 2027 when the BBC's Royal Charter is up for renewal. 

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Is the Culture Secretary ready to fight the BBC?

800px-Official_portrait_of_Oliver_Dowden_crop_2.jpgOliver Dowden (pictured left), the new Culture Secretary, gave a speech at the Enders Media and Telecoms Conference yesterday. He told the audience that "in the coming years we will of course be taking a proper look at our public service broadcasting system and the BBC’s central role within it." He also said that we need to consider three questions. Does the BBC truly reflect all of our nation and is it close to the British people? Does the BBC guard its unique selling point of impartiality in all of its output? Is the BBC ready to embrace proper reform to ensure its long term sustainability for the decades ahead?

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Decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee is good, but the Government must go further

In an article published in the Daily Mail yesterday, Culture Secretary, Nicky Morgan, wrote:

"Twenty years ago Blockbuster, the then heavyweight of video rentals, turned down a £38 million merger offer from Netflix. Today Netflix is worth £50 billion, 1,300 times its offer to Blockbuster – which has gone from 3,000 stores to a museum in Oregon, for people who want to remember what video cassettes look like. Netflix now competes with the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple for dominance of the multi-billion-dollar streaming market. The result is that people now spend three times as much time watching subscription services such as Netflix than they do BBC iPlayer. More children now recognise the names Netflix and YouTube than they do the BBC. I believe, no matter how well-funded these international streaming giants are, UK public service broadcasters are vital".

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The condescending Emily Maitlis just can't help herself

I gave up watching Newsnight on BBC Two years ago, pretty much at the same time as Jeremy Paxman hung up his boots. Rather like Channel 4 News, the presenters don't try to mask their metropolitan left-wing biases. Probably the most condescending (and humourless) of the lot of them is Emily Maitlis. 

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NEW 'Axe the TV Tax' campaign video

We have just launched a new campaign video. Click below to watch it. And please share it with your family and friends. 


The latest debacle about TV licences for over-75s highlights why the telly tax should be scrapped

The BBC is not exactly popular at the moment after its decision to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s who are not in receipt of pension credit. It has reneged on the deal it negotiated with the Government four years ago, and because the Government is a shambles at the moment, it knew it could get away with it. All we have had from the Prime Minister is a spokesman saying that she is very disappointed with the BBC. I know she is on the way out, but could she not have come up with something stronger than that?

The BBC, of course, has painted a doomsday scenario in order to justify its decision. It would have to close down BBC 2 and other channels to plug the gap if it didn't grab the cash from most over-75s. The fact that it is wasteful, has over a hundred employees paid more than the Prime Minister, and pays Gary Lineker £1.7 million a year for commenting on recorded highlights of football matches (something any competent sports journalist could do for a fraction of the cost) doesn't seem to register in the minds of the BBC's top brass. They are more interested in feathering their own nests at the expense of some of the poorest in society. 

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Heads must roll at the BBC after the High Court rules in favour of Sir Cliff Richard

Responding to the judgement in the High Court this morning, Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns for The Freedom Association, said:

"I am delighted that Sir Cliff Richard has won his case in the High Court this morning. The BBC should have accepted that it had acted wrongly by invading his privacy in this most disgraceful way. But instead, the BBC is considering appealing against today's judgement describing it as a 'dramatic shift against press freedom'.

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Hats off to the BBC!

The following is a guest post by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Hon. Chaplain of The Freedom Association. Peter is reflecting on last Saturday's Today programme. 

I switch on Radio Four just before seven o’clock in the morning for the weather forecast, listen to the news headlines and then turn off before the relentless barrage of propaganda from the lefty clones who present The Today Programme has chance to reduce me to a gibbering wreck. But this morning I was late and, by the time I’d switched on, Britain’s very own version of Pravda was in full swing.

They were discussing this weekend’s election in Hungary in which Prime Minister Victor Orban is seeking another term.

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BBC forced presenters to use personal service companies

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Christa Ackroyd, a former BBC presenter who was paid through her own personal service company (PSC) and who left the BBC very abruptly five years ago. Ms. Ackroyd has since been given a £419,000 tax bill by HMRC because the tax man said that she should have been an employee of the BBC. 

Many current and former BBC journalists and presenters accuse the corporation of forcing them to use PSC's. This morning it was the turn of Liz Kershaw, Kirsty Lang, Paul Wise, and Stuart Linnell. 

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