The TV licence would be a lot easier to defend if it wasn’t for BBC bias

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Reports say the government will scrap the TV licence in five years time. In the meantime, it’s expected to freeze the current fee at £159 per year for the next two years. Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said she wants to:

discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.

Given what we’ve previously written about BBC bias, scrapping the licence could be a welcome move. After all, there’s no reason why people should have to hand over their hard earned cash to a media outlet that doesn’t fully represent them.

While, of course, there’s a lot about the BBC that people value, it seems that the BBC‘s biased role in defending the political establishment has made defending the licence fee very difficult, and it’s made the slippery slide into privatisation all the more inevitable.

What the licence is supposed to do

The law says we must have a TV licence if we “watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast”. We also need one if we “download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand”.

This licence fee allows the BBC to produce content for television, radio, and online. Part of it also goes towards rolling out broadband and funding “Welsh Language TV channel S4C and local TV channels”. The fee also means the BBC in the UK remains advert free. So far so good – with the added benefit of knowing your favourite programme won’t be interrupted by incessant ads.

So scrapping the licence will have an impact on elements of the BBC that some people value:

Read on...

The problem with the TV licence

But there’s more to the BBC than comedy, nature, and language programming. There’s also news and current affairs. And given the licence fee directly supports this, defending it has become a real challenge. A fee that should go towards quality public broadcasting clearly does not always do that:

A number of other people on social media, including journalist George Monbiot, hit out at BBC political bias:

Journalist Richard Medhurst added this:

Worth the expense?

Some people who work for the BBC defended the fee based on how cheap they perceive it to be. But they were soon put in their place:

And our own Steve Topple added this:

BBC bias is what really needs to be scrapped

As we’ve written at The Canary, the BBC is a biased news organisation that represents a real threat to democracy. So whether we defend the licence fee really depends on whether the government actually wants it to be a proper public news broadcaster. Something it clearly doesn’t want.

And failing that change of heart at the national broadcaster, we could all do a lot worse than supporting truly independent media instead.

Featured image via Unsplash – Siora Photography

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  • Show Comments
    1. Never thought I’d say ‘thanks Boris’ you’ve done the global south a great service. BBC World service has been a weapon in the global war on the poor, acting in tandem with Washington and the Pentagon. Please make I go away, Africa would love to see the demise of the last tendrils of the British empire.

      1. Whilst indeed the BBC’s World Service and other news-propaganda elements are deeply harmful, the Corporation provides much more than that, much of it valuable and to be supported by all on the Left. As a musician, I have long relied in the Beeb for its generally excellent music radio stations. Without the licence fee, would John Peel have ever been a DJ in Britain? However, that doesn’t mean the fee should continue. Jeremy Corbyn offered some well-considered alternative ideas for the BBC:

        – Giving staff and local licence-fee payers the ability to elect BBC Board members, with minimum representation for women and minority groups
        – Improving transparency around the make-up of the BBC workforce with the publication of equality data, including for social class, for all BBC content creators
        – Putting the BBC on a “permanent statutory footing to end “Government control” through Royal Charter renewal
        – The creation of a new independent body to set the BBC licence fee
        – The introduction of a new digital licence fee, funded by tech giants and internet service providers

    2. First they came for the left
      But the BBC wasn’t left
      So it joined in the left bashing

      Then they came for the BBC
      So the left went “Nah, I’ll pass”
      And no one was left to defend the BBC

      I seriousness, you could see it build over the past 15 years: the good old model of
      Defund
      Run down
      Privatise

      On the other hand, this goes so completely against the interests of the establishment, it is baffling.

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