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. 

The Freedom Association has campaigned for many years for the abolition of the TV licence fee. It's not just over-75s who shouldn't have to forcibly pay it - none of us should have to. 

At the beginning of last year, the BBC's Director General, Lord Hall, said that he wants the BBC to become "the number one online TV service in the face of fierce competition”. The competition he is talking about derive their income from subscription and advertising. But of course, what he doesn't want is an end to the compulsory telly tax that gives the BBC the cash to embark on this expansionist plan. 

This is yet another example of the BBC having its cake and eating it. It's happy to push out competitors, but refuses to live in the real commercial world.

But what the BBC doesn't appear to get is that this new technology will render the licence fee redundant. As Jeremy Paxman said in an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine almost two years ago, the licence fee is "antediluvian". He also said that "if Amazon and Netflix can do it, so can they".

Watching a television in the corner of a living room is not part of the everyday lives of the younger generation growing up today. Many students don’t own televisions, and that trend continues as they graduate and enter the world of work. They are not purchasing TV licences as they see it as irrelevant to their lives, and this trend is going to continue.

This will have an enormous impact on the BBC’s income stream with the corporation struggling to hold on to its domestic market share whilst its worldwide presence continues to diminish.

As a private company earning its income through subscription and worldwide sales, the future for the BBC would have been rosy. Instead, risk aversion is driving the BBC into a dead end as they hold on to an analogue funding system in a digital world.

 

 

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