WELL, I finally did it. I dumped my TV licence. There was no tipping point as such. My aerial cable had been non-functioning for a couple of years and I saw no need to go the expense of getting it fixed since online streaming services were available. I had been watching live broadcast television for news over the internet as well as using the BBC iPlayer to watch some films. But I realised I was switching off both the BBC News Channel and Sky News due to the bias in its presentation, and I have a good number of DVDs bought cheaply from charity shops. The BBC made some cracking dramas and comedies in the distant past, all of which are unavailable to stream, so I had bought these online. The BBC has become disposable to me due to the proliferation of competition.
I cancelled my direct debit. Then I went on to the TV Licensing site and made the declaration that I was no longer watching live broadcast TV, and would no longer watch programmes in the BBC’s iPlayer. It does seem that I would still be free to listen to BBC radio programmes online, as the BBC make these available for free across the world, but I have not tested this. The declaration site wanted my name and email, and would not proceed until I had provided the latter. But it is only the physical address that is subject to the licence, not the person so I did not provide my name. I had created a special email address just for the purpose of cancelling the licence, but in my haste I entered it incorrectly, but it was still accepted, so there seems no form of validation is used where a code is emailed to enable the cancellation. So strictly speaking, all that is needed is the address and nothing more.
A few days later there came an acknowledgement in the post due to my email error. Then came a separate notification of a failure to collect my direct debit. It seems clear that Capita, the private firm charged with collecting the revenue such that it is immune from Freedom of Information requests, does not compare its revenue database with its declaration database before sending out what is tantamount to a bill.
And that’s it. What next? The letter acknowledging my cancellation states: ‘We may visit you to confirm a licence isn’t needed. These routine visits are necessary because, when we make contact, we find one in six people who told us they don’t need a licence actually do need one.’
I won’t be the ‘one in six’, so the bill-collector will be disappointed. I’m not going to watch any BBC broadcast or use iPlayer for catch-up. I’m done. I’ve had enough of the barely concealed propaganda of social cohesion that panders to increasingly extreme views. I cancelled my licence about the time George Floyd met his untimely end, so I have managed to avoid all the nonsense the BBC or Sky has pumped out about this event and its aftermath.
I won’t be watching any live television from the BBC’s rivals either, even though having to pay for this narrow right-to-view is obviously ludicrous in the Internet age. Instead I will use the catch-up feature on these rival services or will watch the box sets they make available. BBC comedies and drama have been unwatchable due to its bias and politicisation for the last decade or so. I am simply not any part of the BBC’s target audience any more. And thanks to the BBC’s growing number of competitors, I have a great choice of alternatives. There is absolutely nothing I will miss for which I cannot get an equivalent or superior substitute.
The BBC is obviously aware that its share of the viewing public has shrunk and will continue to do so drastically. So it is trying to hold the line by becoming more ideological in its output to connect with a core politically-motivated audience as an act of increasingly open desperation. But that is at the price of rejecting inclusivity and alienating people who wish to be informed, educated and entertained without being indoctrinated at the same time.
It is not really the case that I have left the BBC. In truth, it is the BBC which has left me. I will not miss it. I am no longer paying for it, so I don’t care what happens to it from now on, especially it is now clearly infested with extremists. It is just one media organisation out of many, and now not a very good one either.
PS: Since I wrote the above, news has come out of the culling of The Andrew Neil Show, which had been off-air due to the current crisis. This just confirms my opinion that the BBC no longer has anything to offer me as a viewer.