Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Its Time to Abolish the TV Licence

Its time for a proper campaign for the abolition of the TV licence. There are lots of websites opposing the licence (e.g., etc), and various MPs are now getting in on the act, but nothing that could be called an organised campaign - that is, one that sets out with the sole aim of the abolition of the TV licence fee in its current form, brings together all its opponents and raises the funds necessary to bring the campaign to fruition.

Why would anyone want to support this campaign? I'm pretty agnostic about the merits of the BBC. They make some quite good programs (that I don't watch many of...). They are also reasonably authoritative and fair in reporting many issues (which makes it all the more annoying that they use this perceived neutrality to push their biases). The BBC in its current form may also be at risk without the TV licence funding it - but there are many alternatives, subscriptions, advertising, direct government grants - and what should replace the TV licence isn't a relevant consideration if the current funding mechanism is so unacceptable.

So what makes the tv licence so unacceptable:

1) It is unfair.
As a flat tax, levied across most of the population, its costs are disproportionately hard to bear for those on low incomes. As a result, many thousands of low income households have been fined or people even imprisoned for not paying it.

2) The methods essential to enforce the tv licence are unacceptable in a free, modern society.
Evidence of whether or not a licensable activity is being undertaken by an individual can only be determined by gross intrusions into personal privacy, and even then only if there is almost 100% takeup of the licence, such that anyone without a licence can be bullied, threatened and harassed as if they were breaking the law. With modern methods of watching broadcast TV, it is pretty much impossible to determine if the law is being complied with unless you give those responsible for enforcement the power to enter any unlicensed property unannounced and to have a snoop around. Such a power is never going to be acceptable in a free society, so the only other tactic available for enforcement is one of bullying and harassment - personal visits and threatening letters (often designed to deceive about the requirements of licensing or the powers of those enforcing it) targeted at all unlicensed premises. The aim is to scare people into being licensed, or for people to inadvertently incriminate themselves. With so much consumer protection around misleading claims from suppliers, and criminal sanctions available against most types of harassment, it is unclear how TV licensing gets away with its tactics.

As technology moves on and fewer people need or want to watch live broadcast TV, those legally licence free can only increase, and with it the anger at the tactics of tv licensing. It is time for the TV licence to be abolished, and funding for the BBC to be moved to a more sustainable long term arrangement. So who's up for making it happen?

(Memo to self - must work out the difference between licence and license.)
(Memo to others - I currently have a TV licence as I watch live TV.)


  1. The BBC Worldservice is a globally influential broadcast, now financed out of the license fee. Would you want to abolish the BBC Worldservice or how would you see it to be financed?

    1. Why could this not be funded through general taxation out of the international aid budget? I am sure DFID could find £250 million from their budget for such a worthy (and influential) cause :)

  2. UK:
    Licence - noun.
    License - verb.
    License - noun and verb.
    It has to be paid for somehow.

    1. Well, in the UK the verb can be 'licence' too. Extra hence confusion.

  3. Doesn't funding the BBC out of general taxation make it more of a 'state broad-caster' and erode some of its independence, especially come budget day. Currently the government look at the grant only every ten years. The BBC is definately as useful for Britain abroad as it is for its viewers at home. It has to be paid for somehow, so unless we want advertisements on it then i would keep it as it is.


  4.   Procedure By Which conservatives Could Control  Parliament
    If UKIP  is  Lucky,  UKIP could  get,   perhaps,  get   five  to  ten   seats
    in  Parliament.  Do  not   forget,   the  public  still regards  UKIP  as   a
    one  issue  party.  To gain  control of  Parliament  UKIP  and  (and frie-
    nds) should  form a  new  conservative  party  with  a  platform that is 
    close to that of the existing Conservative party, omitting, of course, 
    policies that are objectionable to conservatives. The purpose would
    be to make a bed that would be easy for conservatives to slide into,
    including  the eighty  percent  of  the Conservatives who left Conser-
    vative  associations. UKIP and the  conservatives  should   then  form
     a  political  association  in  each  parliamentary  district.   UKIP   could
    merge with the new party, thus getting rid of the one issue problem. 
    Every one who would have worked  to  form  the new,  conservative,
     party   should   be   prevented   from    joining    the    new   party    for
    a  period   of time  to  prevent  the  impression  that  UKIP  controls  it.
    The two or three conservative parties should hold a primary election
    to determine who runs as the Parliamentary candidate, with the losers
    to help the winner. The cost of forming new associations can be raised
    by local contributors. It is suggested that the  new   conservative   asso-
    ciations and the political party be controlled by the lowest level of con-
    servatives, such as teachers, small businessmen, solicitors, professionals
    etc. If the  above   procedure   can  not  be  completed  in  time  to   get 
    candidates   elected   to    Parliament,  the  new  party  must  wait  until
    after the  election  and  hold  a  petition  demanding  that  the  elected
    MP  resign. Note: an MP  represents   every  person  in  his  district,  not
    just members and   supporters of his party. When the petition reaches
    fifty percent of those who voted in the prior election, the conservatives
    will be morally justified in demanding their MP"s resignation. Then the
    new party could run their  candidates  in  the  following by elections. 
    To select a candidate, a local  association should  advertise  for applicants
    or the position of candidate for  Parliament, then  select   the   best  app-
    licant  by using rigorous tests, including, most importantly,  psychological 
    evaluation. psychological evaluation is an absolute necessity as the psych-
    ological evaluation is the only way to tell who is honest and who is a con-
    artist; members of the public  cannot.  Testing  could  be  required  of the 
    association  officers,  committee  members and delegates, etc.

    The platform, selected by new party associations,  should be some what
     vague in order to facilitate integration  the platforms of the  new  assoc-
    iations into one platform. It is suggested that self forming cliques of those
    who are   honest  and   trust  worthy  be formed;  then form   self  forming
    cliques of those who have   political skills  and  capabilities,  within  the
    first described clique.

    The corruption in Ukip is a cause for concern. Information about the corr-
    uption may bee seen on the following websites:

    John Newell