With online streaming and plenty of choice, why should television viewers be held to ransom to pay for the BBC’s life-support system?

  • The BBC is under fire for its plans to strip people aged 75 or older of their free TV licences from next year.
  • The corporation claims it can no longer afford the deal it struck with the Government in 2015.
  • The proposal to means-test licences for the elderly will catch an estimated 3.7million senior citizens who had previously enjoyed a free licence.
  • Boris Johnson has been unsympathetic to the Beeb’s purported plight, telling it to ‘cough up’.

A broader point is becoming crystal clear: the BBC no longer deserves to be funded by what is, in effect, a poll tax. It’s simply not sustainable in this age of online streaming and consumer choice. The corporation was accused of breaching its charter obligations on political neutrality and objective reporting years ago, and I think the rot gets worse with every passing month. Enough 
is enough. We are going to have to switch off the BBC’s life-support system.

BBC forces shooters to pay for Chris Packham

Put it like this: forcing the shooting community to pay for the likes of Chris Packham is as unjust as forcing a vegan to pay for a subscription to Shooting Times. You can choose whether or not you wish to buy Shooting Times. You have no such choice with regards to the BBC — at least, not 
if you want to watch any live TV.

According to the way the antiquated licence fee law is interpreted, anybody who plugs in equipment merely capable of receiving a live terrestrial TV signal is obliged to buy a TV licence, unless they are specifically exempt. We have to fork out even when we don’t consume BBC content.

“People who have declared war on our way of life”

Worse, the BBC hires people such 
as Mr Packham, who engage in blatantly political campaigning. The Beeb hides behind the risible excuse that he isn’t 
an employee, only a mere ‘contractor’. Yet 
to the viewing public he is a BBC presenter — they don’t care what the precise nature of his commercial contract is. He owes his public profile to the BBC. And we are forced to pay for him via the BBC licence fee. This is wrong. We shouldn’t be made to put money into the pockets of people who have declared war on our way of life.

I have no doubt that the BBC’s current funding regime is tottering on its last legs. It can’t last much longer. Not in an age of the internet and on-demand viewing services, against a backdrop of continual horror stories about BBC bias and overpaid celebrity presenters.

Offensive broadcasting

In the meantime, the answer may be to stop paying the licence fee and eschew conventional broadcast media altogether. This is a pity, because Auntie’s radio at its best is very good indeed. But why should anybody have to fund broadcasting that actually offends them? Subscription for specific services, rather than a universal licence fee, is the way to go.

I already avoid the BBC most of the 
time. When I want general news, I look at trusted online sites. For in-depth news and features about shooting, I turn to Shooting Times — which is invariably better written and better informed than some poorly moderated online shooting forums. When 
I want films, I use Netflix.

I don’t mind buying content I want. But I resent being forced to pay for stuff I don’t want. Such as Mr Packham.