Nineteen Eichty Fower

This very Orwellian advert has been turning up on billboards all across Glasgow to warn us all of the dangers of not having a television license:

I don’t know about you, but the whole advert seems fairly sinister to me. I understand the whole argument that the TV license pays for the BBC and all the quality programming that comes with it. Naturally I’m totally unconvinced by this argument and the more I look at the BBC’s schedules the less convinced I become.

According to the BBC’s own annual report they took in a total of roughly £3,720,600,000 between household and business licenses. This is balanced by a yearly expenditure of roughly £3,237,000,000. That’s a difference of around £483,600,000. Wonder where that money goes to eh? The same place it always goes, to the government down in that there London. The BBC etc claim that the license fee keeps the BBC channels free of advertising, but that’s a subjective argument. They might not have the reams of brain cell killing commercial adverts found on say Channel 4, but they do manage to squeeze in advert breaks between each show for whatever is flavour of the month for them.

The concept of a TV License seems to be purely a revenue generating mechanism for the government and the BBC. I propose a better solution. Pay as you view subscription television with different bands of charging. We’ve already got the technology to make it a happen.

Band One – Channel Subscription – You pay to view the channel(s) of your choice, as long as you keep paying you can keep watching.

Band Two – Pay as you view – Maybe there’s only one show on a particular channel that you ever watch so you pay to watch that show.

Naturally you would have to fix the costs of these subscriptions through legislation. It wouldn’t do if they could start charging a hundred bucks and showing nothing but tat. Maybe ten or fifteen quid year per channel would be fair? The channels would very quickly have to start making the most of their revenue. It would become a cutthroat world where every flop program could mean the loss of views and ultimately the loss of revenue. You put out a stinker of a show like headcases and you’ll sink like a stone. Equally if you don’t pay to watch, then you can’t watch. Sure like any technology some people will find a way round it, but most people will just stump up the cash and get on with it. If someone doesn’t want to have a television or never watches anything on it why should they pay the same as a jobless waster that sits all day watching the damn thing? It’s like paying the admission fee to a film just for standing outside the cinema.

The License Fee doesn’t seem historically that different from the Income Tax inflicted upon everyone that goes out and does an honest days work. Let’s not forget that Income Tax was introduced by Pitt the Younger back in 1798 to allow Britain to pay for arms and equipment for the looming war against Napoleon. It was abolished and reinstated half a dozen times over the next half century. It finally came home to roost under the Tory government of Sir Robert Peel in 1842. The tax was brought back specifically because of huge black hole in the Treasury had left the government on the verge of bankruptcy. The TV License meanwhile pays for a black hole that pretends to be providing quality entertainment.

That being said, you’ll no doubt be aware that TV Licensing itself isn’t even run directly by the government anymore. It’s operated by “TV Licensing” which is a trading name for a multitude of companies that carry out the actual work of administering, providing and enforcing the licensing laws. The main company involved is Capita Business Services Ltd. Capita specialise in outsourced administration and a lot of their business comes from administering local and national government projects. Currently they’re wholly or partly responsible for the administration of TV Licensing, Network Rail and the Driving Standards Agency. I assume that at least part of the fee that’s supposed to be paying for quality programming is going to each of the companies under this nebulous umbrella.

For the record, yes I do have a TV licence and I definitely resent being partly responsible for the very gay resurrection of Dr Who. Even if I still watch it every Saturday. What can I say, I love a car crash.

3 Responses to “Nineteen Eichty Fower”

  1. 1 MCDOWALL April 28, 2008 at 21:05

    Ah say AGAIN:

    Thur poster makes Glasgow look like a cheap JETWAY MOTHERBOARD!

    Ye must also beware o folk that claim that the BBC provide some cultural counterpoint and impartiality, and as such is a vital service to act against the forces of Murdoch. Such people are FOOLS for they buy into the BBC’s own dumbed down, self selective news broadcasting – to say nothing of the shite they are calling ‘entertainment’. And it’s not just a case of my view of entertainment is not the same, or is more haughty than others views of what entertainment is – the BBC are selling us all a dead turkey that too many Oestriches are all too keen to consume!

    And to also say nothing on the subject of the fucking iPlayer, spreading shittey TV and clogging up the internet with utterly turgid, still born, fecal-matter-that-wouldn’t-breed-C.Dificile…my GOD!

    Moreover, why is TAGGART, the michtiest and finest of Scotland’s institutions been SHORTENED to a STANDARD TV Hour and the episodes reduced in complexity to that of the average fucking episode of fucking JOEY.


    Present company notwithstanding.

  2. 2 TehKat perambulator April 30, 2008 at 20:35


  3. 3 MCDOWALL May 1, 2008 at 18:58

    Sorry Teh Kat 😦

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