Thursday, March 06, 2014

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, at the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday 26 February 2014

I have taken a section of Mr Hall's speech and added a few comments (in bold) -

Of course, there is always advertising.
Yet having no advertising is one of the characteristics that people most value about the BBC.
It’s not just the interruption that people dislike. 

The BBC is full of repetitious, disruptive, interruptive adverts for its own programmes and services.

Advertising would also narrow the range of content on the BBC. And by taking advertising money away from ITV and Channel 4 it would make public service broadcasting much worse across the board.

Some critics of the BBC who reluctantly accept this case for the licence fee, or at least see that others accept it, have started to make a different argument.

They say the licence fee is a dinosaur from a pre-digital age, doomed to inevitable extinction in an on-demand world where you don’t watch live TV.

The facts just don’t bear this out. Around 90% of all television viewing is still live. Well under 2% of households consume only on-demand TV content. And this number is growing only slowly.

Well count me in - I am one of your 2%  I stopped paying my licence fee and I have disconnected my aerial (and sky dish incidentally).  Since I stopped just flopping down to watch whatever happened to be on, my life has improved no end.  Increasingly, the BBC offers me very little of interest, and I am buggered if I will pay for any more London-centric media luvvies lifestyle programming (and fat payoffs when they leave).

Funding by licence fee therefore remains practical and sustainable.

Yet one of the advantages of the licence fee is that it’s flexible and has adapted over the years. It started as a radio licence. Then TV. Then colour TV. And then the relatively simple change to the regulations in 2004 to cover the consumption of live TV on new devices such as computers. When it’s adapted itself so well over the decades, why would you suddenly give it up?

When and how best to take the next step is, of course, a matter for the Government. Our view is that there is room for modernisation so that the fee applies to the consumption of BBC TV programmes, whether live on BBC One or on-demand via BBC iPlayer.

Even though I only watch online, I don't watch live stuff- because it's against the law.  Clearly you realise that by allowing me to legally watch an occasional (and it really is occasional) BBC programme on iPlayer, you are missing out, and despite the fact that I'm part of the 2% (and rising slowly) you feel you need to take your bat home.  

That is fine - I get the argument that says I shouldn't watch it if I'm not paying for it.  I just hope your "enforcement" regime is able to distinguish between genuine offenders and people you or Crapita don't like the look of, because the record so far is not encouraging.

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