BBC – Ian Timothy
Like many people, I am dismayed by the decision of the BBC to take away the television licence fee concession for people who are over seventy-five. It is no surprise the turnaround is recognised as an act of greed and selfishness. The corporation’s viewpoint is they cannot afford to subsidise the aged population of this country.
However, two years ago, the BBC applied to the government for an increase in the television licence fee. In return for the price hike, the BBC agreed to cover the over seventy-five licence concession previously paid by the public purse. The reality of the BBC’s move is they have broken a contractual agreement with the British population. How so? Well, the government represents the population.
In this instance, we see other issues which have not been considered. For example, they ignore an essential aspect of the situation. It is that the population is increasing and many more families are buying the enforced television licence. And although age expectancy is rising, this is not in proportion to the increase in new television subscriptions.
Last week saw outrage due to the BBC’s selfish decision. We read people’s comments, and two points of concern prevail. One) the amount of money so-called celebrities earn from the British public’s contribution to the corporation’s finances. Two) the announcement of twenty-five thousand-pound salary jumps for many of the executives.
We must hope the BBC bows to public pressure and reverses this act of contempt for the British people. From my perspective, I see this greed as an indication of wealth, ignoring the reality of having to watch every penny of our income.
To some degree, we must blame ourselves for this sorry state of affairs. There is too much idolising of celebrity. And an excess of reliance on television for entertainment. In effect, the BBC has its customers over a barrel. One of their arguments this week was that people are prepared to pay for satellite viewing and the BBC licence represents excellent value for money.
Is this accurate? Not by my way of thinking. The difference is in the word choice. We have the opportunity to watch Sky Television and pay for as much or as little as desired. And although the BBC have competition from the other channels. The unfair advantage for the BBC is viewers are forced to pay for all of the services: they cannot cherry-pick their preference.
For fairness, let’s look at the BBC’s case: here is the contra-argument:
The estimated cost of subsidising the over seventy-fives is £745m, a fifth of the BBC’s budget by 2021/22. And continuing to fund free TV licences for all over-75s would have resulted in “unprecedented closures”. The broadcaster indicates that BBC Two, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, the BBC Scotland channel, Radio 5live, and several local radio stations would all have been at risk if the subsidy had continued.
The question to consider is should the over seventy-fives enjoy a free licence or should the BBC close down these services? It is possible the answer lies in reviewing the viewing or listening figures for the whole of the corporation and removing the chaff from the wheat. The BBC has become an over-bloated slug: The BBC’s national coverage of the news is sufficient. The tens of BBC local radio stations are competing with similar numbers of commercial radio stations. Why not allow commercial enterprises to thrive?
There is also an argument for closing The World Service a ‘hang-over’ from the so-called British Empire. The reasoning here is the BBC is now acknowledged as having a political bias. And the old days of London offering fair and balanced news is over. And who is really interested in a story from an outdated establishment? We can use the internet for British and World news when travelling abroad.
How can the excess of wages to celebrities be justified? Multi-Millionaire footballers being paid millions each year and similar overblown salaries to the likes of Evans, Ross and Ball. The justification is they attract viewers and listeners. But there is a problem with this argument and one which many seem to ignore.
The BBC is a corporation formed initially to provide entertainment and information for the British people. In the mandate, there is an enforced payment for a licence fee. It is this revenue which pays for the service. Indeed the collection of this revenue is so aggressive it is believed 12% of all small court claims are licence fee-related. Surely it is the corporation’s responsibility to work within the income? And this means providing a service. It does not encompass competing with other media broadcasting businesses.
Another issue is the problem of the disclosure. The BBC resists full disclosure of wages and expenses: as an example, the cost of servicing the Glastonbury festival. An excuse of breach of human rights is used for non-disclosure of this information. The corporation is also careful not to include the tens of millions of income received from selling and syndicating productions. Some of the old television series continues to generate incredible revenue for the corporation. Another additional revenue is the syndication of coverage of sports events. However, this is not mentioned in defence of enforcing the over seventy-five licence payments. The corporation only focusses on the licence revenue NOT the whole of the corporation’s returns. Readers will do well to reflect on this aspect with care. For example, BBC Worldwide Ltd earned the BBC 250 million in 2018. As a separate business, this is not entered into BBC Ltd profit or revenue.
Readers should research the total revenue attained by the BBC various outside ventures. Adding the corporation’s profits from other branches changes the actual figures. This non-disclosure is a reflection of contempt the BBC executives have for the British public. The BBC has forgotten its mandate and considers itself as above the consensus of the people it serves. It is not a business, and it is a service with a mandate to serve the people. If the enforcement of its income advantages the BBC by law, its executives should realise this protection establishes they are bound to the people it serves.
The British people are continually let down by governments and public bodies which serve them. Mandates, pre-election manifestos, referendum outcome, are three examples of letdowns and turnaround without consultation. An obvious contempt of the people who pay for their wages is beyond doubt.
A final thought:
One wonders if the government’s allowing the BBC to ignore the agreement when the licence fee was increased (That of the BBC covering the cost of the over seventy-five years old licence concession.) is a reward for the apparent bias of BBC’s coverage of the news?
Here I will leave you to test your ability to utilise open-minded thinking.