Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Ofcom looks at 'sharing' licence fee with other broadcasters

More broadcasters, it seems, want to get in on the act by getting their hands on some of the television licence fee and Ofcom, the regulatory body, thinks that there is a case for this so that ITV, Channel4 and Five can get help to fund their 'public service' broadcasting obligations (news, local news, etc).

I'm not in principle opposed to 'sharing' existing revenue (I'd rather see the licence fee reduced or abolished entirely) as I think it would be a salutary reminder to the BBC that it does not exist in a vacuum, irrespective of what the public feels about it - who are increasingly voting with their remote controls for the wide range of alternative broadcasters now available.

However, there is an ominous statement at the end of the linked article:

"Ofcom concludes that if this money comes from the existing licence fee, which generates £3.2bn per year, it could be damaging to the BBC."

- I'm assuming that this does reflect what Ofcom actually wrote and has not been 'doctored' editorially by the BBC - hardly a disinterested party in this matter. However, what this seems to imply is that what is being talked about is not 'sharing' at all(!), but increasing the revenue (and the licence fee, presumably) so that the BBC will not lose out! Apart from the Newspeak attempt to disguise a potential increase in the licence fee as 'sharing', I think it is time that broadcasters realised they do not have any right to our money; I accept that the commercial broadcasters (ITV and Five) have a right to turn a profit, but they should be required to fund whatever public service obligations they have out of their own revenues, not ours - and if they can't achieve this they can go out of business so far as I am concerned. As for the BBC and Channel4, they need to focus on their core obligations and not attempt with public money to compete with purely commercial broadcasters in every type of programming.

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