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    BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

    This is a discussion on BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary within the Entertainment forums, part of the Community channel category; BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary | Media | The Guardian John Whittingdale says household levy connected ...

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      BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary | Media | The Guardian
      John Whittingdale says household levy connected to other bills similar to council tax is simplest option and would be an improvement on ‘regressive’ flat-rate fee

      Culture secretary John Whittingdale has offered support to replacing the BBC licence fee with a household levy collected in a similar way to the council tax, but said no decision had been made ahead of legislation expected next year.

      Whittingdale’s comments to MPs on Wednesday came two days after the BBC itself backed the household levy system, outlined in the government’s green paper on the future of the BBC, as one way of modernising the current system.

      The culture secretary said such a system could help tackle the issue of non-payment, which is currently a criminal officence, as well as introducing a progressive element absent from the flat-rate licence fee.

      In wide-ranging comments, he also indicated that “all things being equal” the licence fee would rise in line with inflation following a controversial funding deal agreed between the government and the BBC, but his comments were attacked by political opponents as spreading further doubt.

      Asked about the possible introduction of a household levy, Whittingdale said that the “simplest” of a “number of different options” was “instead of having to pay separately, you could pay it at the same time as another bill, such as your council tax bill. It would make it easier to collect, it would also I think address concerns about evasion”.

      The licence fee, which is based on ownership of a television despite the fast growth of online viewing figures, is currently collected separately from all other taxes levied by local authorities.

      Whittingdale said if the system was linked to the council tax, which is based on house size for example, it could be levied in a progressive way rather than one-size-fits-all rate of £145.50.

      In a wide-ranging appearance before MPs on the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Wednesday, Whittingdale stressed that all options were still open, with responses to the green paper on the BBC not due until 8 October: “We haven’t reached a decision about any of these things.”

      Yet he has previously been critical of a flat-rate fee he calls “regressive”. In 2013 he said: “I still think, for exactly the same reason as the winter fuel allowance and a free buss pass, it is very difficult to justify why my mother doesn’t have to pay a licence fee. Means testing it would be administratively more complicated but nevertheless in the present climate I can see no real reason why it remains a universal benefit.”

      Whittingdale admitted he did not have enough time to do as thorough a review of the BBC’s scope and future funding as he would have liked before the current royal charter runs out at the end of 2016. He indicated that the current charter may have to be extended before a new one is put in place.

      Chris Bryant MP shadow culture criticised his comments about funding: “ After the backroom deals of July, Whittingdale seems intent on creating even more uncertainty about the level of the licence fee.

      “We need a strong BBC able to meet the challenges of the future so the idea that somehow or other it might have to face even more cuts than the Tories have already pushed through is ludicrous.

      “The secretary of state said if all things are equal, the Beeb should get the inflationary rise, but the trouble is his government seem determined to ensure the BBC aren’t equal in this process after already tying their hands behind their back with a £700m raid on their funds.”

      World Service expansion


      In comments that suggested the BBC had consulted with the government over its plans ahead of the announcement, Whittingdale was effusive about BBC plans to expand the World Service but expressed concerns that proposals to help local newspapers may have the reverse effect.

      He said the World Service was “one of the great assets we have” at a time of increasing propaganda from news outlets in Russia and China and said he “very much welcomed” corporation plans to launch new services for Russian speakers and in North Korea.

      The BBC said on Monday the new services will be dependent on increased government funding, due to be discussed in the autumn, although Whittingdale gave no indication as to whether the extra money would be forthcoming or not.

      The department of culture media and sport said the minister was simply expressing a view when he welcomed the proposals to launch a Russian language service, rather than committing the government to fund it.

      However, Whittingdale was more cautious about BBC proposals to support the local newspaper industry – including a 100-strong network of local reporters and a new data hub and network – which elicited a mixed response from local media companies on Monday.

      “I was alarmed slightly at the suggestion the BBC might directly go out and employ local reporters because I don’t think that would meet the objective of supporting local newspapers, it would increase the pressure on them,” he said.

      Whittingdale refused to rule out the privatisation of Channel 4 but went further than he has done previously by suggesting that the state-owned but commercially funded broadcaster could maintain its remit regardless of ownership.

      “At the moment, there are no plans to sell Channel 4 … but am I going to say to you that it is out of the question? No,” he said.

      Developing comments he had made last month at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, he said the issue of ownership was separate from the commitment to public service obligations governing Channel 4. “The remit [remains] … it doesn’t matter what [the] ownership structure is.”

      Arts Council facing possible cuts


      Separately, Whittingdale said the Arts Council would have to face a reduction in its funding as part of the government-wide cuts being imposed across all its departments.

      The DCMS, in common with other government departments without ring-fenced funding, has been asked to model two scenarios of 25% and 40% of real-terms savings by 2019-20.

      Whittingdale said the Arts Council was one of the biggest recipients of the department’s funds. “Therefore, inevitably, if we are required to find savings, the Arts Council is going to have to make a contribution to that process,” he said.

      Asked whether the Arts Council had done enough to address concerns about the distribution of its money around the country, and whether it was still regarded as too London-focused, Whittingdale said: “They have done quite a bit” but said they could do more and it was “something the chairman and chief executive were looking at”.


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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      Not liking that one bit, just because someone owns a home does not mean they watch TV. If each Home is charged then the price should come down considerably as more will be paying and the BBC would have fewer overheads.
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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      It certainly should not be based on the size or value of the property, nor can it be based on the number of persons living in the property either. Therefore it has to be a flat rate charge levied against all properties, commercial, industrial and residential; and as you say, that being the case then the cost should come down considerably.
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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      The BBC
      Founded on great principles of fairness & independence. 'Funded by the people, for the people'.
      Trying to stay alive in an increasingly unfair country / world.

      For those not happy to pay the licence fee for whatever reason, such as they don't use any BBC services - i honestly wouldn't worry about it.

      Regardless of what the guff of these proposals & further PR smokescreens will no doubt suggest, one can't ignore the quite obvious underlying political agenda.
      Which is to slowly chip away at the organisation's ability to function, until finally one day it will appear to be an act of mercy to put it out of its misery.



      The NHS
      See above.

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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      If only it were this simple.

      In the proposed system, everyone would have to pay. That includes the many who do not have a TV or Radio.

      There are many who currently have a TV but do not watch the BBC. They must pay of face getting a criminal conviction and could be imprisoned.

      Others who currently download content via the BBC iPlayer, but have no TV, can currently do so without paying.

      The current system is unfair. The proposed system is just as unfair.

      I've mentioned it previously but I strongly believe that a system that incorporates subscriptions with a choice of scale would IMHO be the best solution. This would need to incorporate a suitable combination of methods used by Sky, Netflix, Amazon and other subscription TV suppliers.

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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      We'll agree to disagree on that one...

      How would you do that with BBC wildlife? It's acknowledged to create some of the best programs around. Some people find them boring, but educationally they are superb, they must remain there for every one, not just those who can afford the subscription. I can think of other examples, children's programming although in my opinion it's not been the same since magic roundabout finished.
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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      Are you suggesting that all the other channels are not capable of producing such content?

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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie
      In the proposed system, everyone would have to pay. That includes the many who do not have a TV or Radio.
      Although we may not be on the same page regarding the big picture here, i do agree that this would be unfair.

      My point however, was that this proposal is at worst BS & at best incomplete.
      My other point was that it's most likely a PR smokescreen for what they're really doing.

      The current system 'starts' with everyone paying.
      Then, if you're over 75 you don't.
      Or if you're registered blind, you pay half.
      Etc...

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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie View Post
      Are you suggesting that all the other channels are not capable of producing such content?

      I'm sure they are, but they don't.

      What percentage of Sky's programming is original and British? I am not knocking Sky but Sky one is a subscription channel, and I cannot think of anything I watch on Sky one, oh yes The Las tShip. Now look at BBC 1,2,3 & 4. Very little of that is imported, it may have some repeats in there but so does every other channel. There are three things on the planner for this evening, one of those is on BBC1, one on More4 and one on Sky Thriller.

      My point is the BBC do waste money in some aspects, I don't believe we need 4 TV channels and God knows how many radio channels, but they do produce some really excellent material, STRICTLY not being one of them in my opinion but to others its what they look forward to and I would hate to see that output not available to everyone.
      Last edited by marjohn56; 11-09-15 at 07:50 PM. Reason: Context
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      Re: BBC licence fee replacement gets backing from culture secretary

      Ok, as a prime example of how the BBC loves to waste your money...

      Coverage of the Shoreham Air Crash.

      Ok, I am in no way knocking the enormity of this air crash and the effect that it is having on the survivors of those who were killed. Also the effect on those who were injured and those close to them too. I also realise that this will affect future air shows.

      What I am disappointed with though is the number of news teams just from the BBC that were covering this.

      Brighton is on the border between BBC South and BBC South East. They each had their own reporters and production teams. You also had the national news covering it with their own reporters and crews. Each would have had their own vans.

      Add to this the fact that the coverage was all day and each team would have needed to have shift changes and you soon realise just how many teams of people were resent just for the BBC.

      At one point BBC South's coverage happened to have another news crew who were also broadcasting live in the background. I flicked over to BBC 1 South East and found that it was their camera crew and reporter who were in the background broadcasting live at the same time as BBC 1 South's team.

      Now why couldn't they have worked together and just reported to both sets of viewers at the same time? As for pushing the national broadcast team down there at the same time, why? Are the reporters who work on our local news somehow to be regarded as no good for a national news story, but fine for the local coverage?

      I'm sorry, but the BBC thinks and treats the TV License money as an endless money pot.

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