Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Why the BBC licence fee has to go


A NEW conservative citizens’ campaign has been formed with the support of major organisations including the Institute of Economic Affairs, the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Adam Smith Institute. 

The Campaign for Licence Free TV is pressing for abolition of the UK TV licence fee, moving the BBC to a different funding model such as subscription.

While we welcome the consultation process announced by the government to review decriminalising non-payment of the TV licence fee, decriminalisation does not remove the licence fee. It will still have to be paid. The BBC will most likely pursue non-payers in the civil courts, which may prove more costly for citizens found at fault. 

We still need to maintain pressure for fundamental change to BBC funding and access to television. Why? First, the licence fee is simply an anachronism in today’s multi-channel world. It is deeply unfair to three major groups in society:

·       Households which don’t watch BBC output, choosing instead to watch other TV channels live or online, are still required to pay for the BBC. This is a clear consumer rights issue.

·       Citizens who fundamentally disagree with the BBC liberal-Left political stance on important topics, but are still required to fund such output. This is a matter of democratic freedom.

·       Pensioners and disadvantaged groups who struggle to pay the licence fee, although TV is their main source of entertainment and information. This is an injustice as non-payment is currently a criminal offence.

If you agree, do visit our website to sign our petition and please take two minutes to complete our brief multi-choice survey to capture your views on the BBC. 

Our campaign website has been up for only a week, but already the survey is showing interesting results which refute BBC claims. The BBC use their considerable media footprint to promote themselves and ‘astro-turf’ their own level of popularity and trust in society. However in answer to our survey question: ‘Does the BBC offer fair, balanced and impartial news reporting?’ more than 90 per cent of respondents answered No.   

A favourite theme of the BBC is that they receive complaints of political bias from both sides of the political spectrum, so their political stance must be around the centre, thus proving their reporting is fair, balanced and impartial. Needless to say this is not borne out by our survey results so far. To our question: ‘In their news and current affairs output, which political stance best describes the BBC?’ more than 50 per cent responded ‘Left’ and another 30 per cent as ‘Very Left’.

We appreciate that this is a self-selected group, but we encourage people of all political persuasions to respond. Thus far the BBC survey has been completed by over 65 per cent males and we would appreciate some more female input to make it fully representative of the sexes. You can see it here.  

Readers of TCW are well acquainted with the catalogue of bias the BBC continues to be accused of – recorded on TCW‘s own BBC Bias pages and to be found in Newswatch’s 20-year monitoring catalogue – and of acting like a campaign group with an agenda that it actively drives, while simultaneously ignoring or briefing against the opposing viewpoint. We refer to this as promoting its own ‘pet causes’ in a clear attempt to influence – campaigning even – rather than just inform.  On our website we list more than 30 identified techniques the campaigning broadcaster uses to inject bias.  

In BBC news reports, current affairs and political coverage this comes in the form of repetition, omission, amplification, distortion and one-sided presentation of issues. It is present in other forms of output such as drama or comedy via hidden messaging, scripting, mocking, characterisation and stereotyping.   

Opinions vary about the degree of bias present and its impact. Be that as it may, the overriding issue is that of freedom to choose whatever one wishes to view, and therefore fund, without having to pay the BBC first for access to it, as a basic right in a democratic society.  

Finally, on the subject of BBC bias we recommend two books, The Fake News Factory by David Sedgwick and Robin Aitken’s The Noble Liar.

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Edmund Cowley
Edmund Cowley
Edmund Cowley is the Director of Campaign for Licence Free TV

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