CW2 – Blog Task 3 – Context/Audiences –
Should the BBC licence fee be scraped – consider the for and against arguments and pick a side.
Whether the BBC licence fee should be scrapped or not is a debate that has been on-going for the last few years, particularly since Internet has become even more popular especially in the younger generation. We currently live in a modern world where we have access to multiple screens from smartphones, tablets to computers, laptops and iMacs allowing people to engage with television from any location. The promoting of monthly subscriptions to these online streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, SkyGo meaning more people are likely not to follow the traditional family television time.
The media is now arguing that the BBC has lost its purpose, however not everyone agrees. In September 2015, the former ITV and BBC chairman, Michael Grade, publicly expressed his concerns with abolishing the licence fee, stating that ending the licence fee and attempting to complete against other commercial competitors for revenue would “end” the corporation according to The Guardian. (Jackson 2015).
There are many reasons behind keeping the licence fee, the primary reason being that the BBC is not permitted to advertise or carry sponsorship on its public services. This keeps them unique from the other channels and also independent of commercial interests ensuring that the cooperation will solely run to serve the consumers and their public interests. By the BBC being funded by a TV license paid by households, this also guarantees that a wide range of high-quality programmes can be made available to everyone whether you are an individual or a living as a large group. The license fee also contributes to supporting the production skills and training to their staff providing a quality service to the employees and other services are also available too. Without the licence fee, these services may not be financed by the economics of advertising or pay-TV meaning that the BBC will lose its originality and its high standard of work.
On the other hand, not everyone will agree that these are in-fact positive reasons for keeping the license, as there are also many valid reasons to terminate the licence. Originally, TV licencing was first introduced in June 1946 to coincide with the post-war resumption of the BBC service around the same time, which also included a licence to receive radio broadcasts; this was the primary reason to have a television at all – to receive news. Nowadays, television is used dominantly as a form of entertainment, as well as receiving updates of the world.
Furthermore, people do not want to pay as there are so many ways around paying the £144.55 per year for the usage of TV licence. Due to the increase in use of portable screens and gadgets, people can now watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, catch up on demand where you do not need to pay for a TV licence as it is not live. Due to the general publics’ busy schedules where working nightshifts is not as abnormal as it used to be, people do not have time to traditionally sit as a family and watch the television in the evenings. This is already causing the BBC to struggle as the general public have found the loophole and the majority are exploiting it. However, what many people will not realise, by doing so the BBC will not be able to continue broadcasting as they will not receive enough funding from the TV licensing meaning we will all lose the channels and TV shows we once loved, regardless of the use of BBC iPlayer. Do the British general public really want this service and do they really need it, is the question? According to The Drum News (2015), “60% of Brits want the BBC license fee scrapped in favour of ad-supported model”.
In conclusion, the argument against the TV licence fee is pretty weak in comparison with the for argument. This is not just because of the high percentage of Britonians who are in favour of the ad-supported model; it is also because the justification for the BBC’s existence as a public service broadcaster is outdated. Although, it would be a shame to see BBC fail amongst larger co-operations within advertising, as we cannot predict whether the BBC would succeed meaning we could lose the high standard and high-quality of British television that belongs solely to the United Kingdom.
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Jackson, J. (2015) ‘Ex-ITV chairman says scrapping licence fee would spell end for BBC’. The Guardian [online] 22 September. available from <http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/sep/22/ex-itv-chairman-says-scrapping-licence-fee-would-spell-end-for-bbc> [11th March 2016]
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