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    Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

    This is a discussion on Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television within the Entertainment forums, part of the Community channel category; Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television - Telegraph Many viewers have long felt that the ...

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      Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television - Telegraph
      Many viewers have long felt that the BBC licence fee, effectively a poll tax on television use, is unfair

      In a digital era, with a vast choice of channels, it is also increasingly outdated. The future of the licence fee is now being openly questioned as the BBC struggles to re-establish public trust after a dismal series of scandals.

      Against this background, the findings of the ICM/Sunday Telegraph opinion poll should not come as a complete surprise. None the less, the results of the survey are stark: a huge majority of the public now wants to see the licence fee cut or abolished altogether.

      This is no longer merely a hypothetical debate. Last month, Lord Hall, the BBC director-general, ventured into this territory himself. As part of his vision for a BBC for the digital age, Lord Hall announced the intention to start “BBC Store”, an iTunes-style service which will allow people in the UK to buy BBC programmes to watch and keep on tablets, laptops and smartphones.

      The BBC raises around £3.6 billion from the licence fee each year; other sources of income bring its spending power to £5.1billion. Lord Hall sees an iTunes-style business model as a way to further increase its income.

      But “BBC Store” effectively involves selling programmes to the public which, through the licence fee, it has already paid to make in the first place. Whilst it might make sense for the BBC’s commercial arm to do more to raise money by selling the corporation’s content across the world, is it really fair to make people pay in the UK twice?

      If the BBC wants to introduce iTunes-style charging, it should not — and more to the point should not be allowed to — expand ever further into areas that could be provided by other media companies. Rather, the extra money raised should be used to cut the tax on television.

      It is, of course, highly unlikely that in the short to medium term the BBC will be able to generate enough income from other sources to replace the funding provided by the licence fee.

      Instead it should be focused on the core of public service broadcasting, such as the provision of authoritative, impartial and comprehensive news reporting.

      A more narrowly-focused BBC would not just be of benefit to taxpayers, but would foster a healthier, more diverse and more sustainable media sector in the UK.

      The BBC already accounts for about 47 per cent of the average British person’s consumption of news and current affairs across all media. In other markets such dominance would be considered monopolistic. The BBC’s aggressive plans for digital expansion are only likely to make the position worse.

      Earlier this year, Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, proposed a new cap on media ownership at 15 per cent of the market across newspapers, broadcasting companies and websites.

      Although I would suggest a slightly higher figure — and her target was the Murdoch empire — it is the omnipresence of the BBC which undermines the efforts of newspapers seeking to reinvent themselves online.

      If limits are to be placed on media ownership and plurality, the BBC must be included so that competition is fair across the entire market. Cutting the BBC’s share of the news and current affairs market from nearly 50 per cent to 15 per cent would revitalise public debate and create a far healthier media sector.

      Today’s poll findings show substantial support for allowing other organisations to compete with the BBC for a portion of the funds raised from the licence fee, offering the prospect of more choice and variety. They should put to bed any claim that to question the BBC’s exclusive right to the licence fee is by default an attack on the corporation’s existence or an attempt to subject it to political pressure.

      The march of technological change means that evolution in a funding model established in 1922 is inevitable. With the licence fee for the rest of the decade up for decision when the BBC’s Royal Charter is renewed in 2016, the clear voice of the public it exists to serve must not be ignored.

      * Rob Wilson is the Conservative MP for Reading East, and parliamentary private secretary to George Osborne, the Chancellor
      .


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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Three things come to mind when reading this:

      • Of course if you ask people should the BBC licence be cut or lower they'll say yes. What would you expect?
      • The day the BBC becomes commercially funded i.e. subscription based and stuffed with adverts will be a sad day indeed. It then becomes another Sky, packed with dross to chase revenue.
      • The cynical part of me gets worried when MPs suddenly hit the headlines making big bold emotive statements like this one. "Poll tax on television"?
      bubblegun likes this.

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Fair comment Saturday, with the only broadcaster in the UK who does not rely on advertising as a source of revenue though, the BBC stands out like a sore thumb IMHO.

      Why compare the BBC with Sky for advertising? ITV and Channel 4 have been using adverts for many years now. Not everything has to be punctuated with ad breaks on a regular basis either. Often the will both delay ads from a 15 minute to 30 or 40 minute gap between breaks.

      With the growing volume of on-line content available from the BBC aimed at both the UK and other countries, I think that it is only fair that we should stop paying the penalty for providing everyone else with subsidised content from out pockets.

      Sure you can argue that it helps to promote the UK, but that isn't the reason we are asked to pay the license fee.

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Quote Originally Posted by Saturday View Post

      • The day the BBC becomes commercially funded i.e. subscription based and stuffed with adverts will be a sad day indeed. It then becomes another Sky, packed with dross to chase revenue.
      Sorry to say they have already started paying far more attention to ratings than makes for quality programming. Some outstanding drama series have bitten the dust recently for no other reasons than low viewing figures. The cancellation of The Hour earlier this year after 2 series of performances which were a joy to watch - not to mention that cliff-hanger of a last episode - was just unforgivable.

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Many years ago we were told that the licence fee was being increased so that the BBC could lead the way into introducing digital TV. Guess what? It's happened, but there has been no consequent reduction in the licence fee. The BBC charter is coming up for renewal. It should be told that the licence fee will reduce by 10% of its current cost each year over that period so that it is zero at the end. That would focus their minds.

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      The quality of BBC programs in general has taken a big dive lately. Couple that with frequently showing repeats at primetime I have to wonder if I would miss it.

      The license fee is rapidly getting to the "it's not worth it" stage, whereas a while back when most of my viewing was BBC based it was worth it.

      I fear that if the Beeb went commercial any extra revenue would simply end up in the back pockets of the Execs. It's the Culture that is wrong. The Beeb think they have the "God Given Right".

      Time to start again or just bite the bullet and scrap the lot of it.

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      I like the BBC.

      I'm sure I've said this before.

      For about £10 per month I get much more tv programmes I want to watch and radio programmes I want to listen to than any of the commercial broadcasters combined.

      It will a sad day if we get rid of it.

      For goodness sake people pay money to watch BBC repeats - GOLD, Dave, Alibi, Watch, Eden, etc. because they are better quality programmes than the commercial equivalents.

      Most recent cuts in programme quality and influx of repeats to daytime schedules have been blamed (by the BBC) on the freezing of the license fee - no inflationary rise.
      However, funnily enough, people have been calling for the BBC archive to be opened-up to allow people to watch these repeats online.
      It is being opened up but being shown on daytime BBC tv.

      I'm not particularly patriotic but looking at tv in other parts of the world then it would be a sad day if we removed the BBC.

      The Tory party looking to control all news coverage?.....

      [For full disclosure I work for Sky {kinda, anyway...] not the BBC]
      Last edited by bubblegun; 03-11-13 at 06:35 PM. Reason: disclosure

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      On the topic of opening up the archives, there is a lot more which has been made available through the BBC iPlayer. Some of it is also available through the apps in the TVs too.

      However you need to visit their website as it isn't available through the Sky links.

      Don't forget too that if you fail to pay the TV License, you can be sent to prison. The only other regular bills that have this penalty are for taxation purposes.

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie View Post
      Don't forget too that if you fail to pay the TV License, you can be sent to prison. The only other regular bills that have this penalty are for taxation purposes.
      In most cases this is where people have been shown to have sufficient income to pay and are using the service to watch live tv anyway. I can sympathise that it's a bit draconian but what are rules and laws there for if not for breaking!

      Do the Crime then you gotta do the time!

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      Re: Rob Wilson MP: Time to scrap unfair poll tax on television

      Much rather pay for the 4 or 5 decent series they make a year than the over expensive tv license. I hate uniquely funding the rubbish content and repeats that get trotted out atm.

     

     
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