The looming battle for the BBC licence fee

The run up to the next review of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2016 is already showing signs of being dominated by public debate on the subject of the obligatory licence fee. The BBC itself is of course keen to perpetuate that guaranteed source of income and, according to a recent report in the Daily Telegraph, may even begin to use those funds to produce advertising to persuade the British public why it should continue to provide them.

“The BBC must “get aggressive” about selling its virtues to the nation, director-general Lord Hall has argued, as he disclosed the corporation will be using its own airwaves to convince viewers it is good value.

Lord Hall has said the BBC must be “less British” about telling the public the £145.50 licence fee is worth paying, as he insisted it is “quite wrong” to accuse the corporation of dominating the media.

His statement raises the possibility that the BBC could place advertisements or trailers on its own channels in the run-up to the licence fee being considered in 2016, spelling out its benefits to viewers.”

The opposing case for the abolition of the licence fee and its replacement with voluntary subscription was recently made in an interesting article in The Commentator by Tim Congdon.

“Time and technology wait for no organisation, no matter how revered. The next two years will see a lively debate over the future of the British Broadcasting Corporation, with the current Royal Charter due to run out at the end of 2016. The early talk is of an extension of the licence fee for a further decade to 2026, but of possible reductions in its value and certainly of freezing it in real terms.

According to an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph last month, 70 per cent of voters believe that the licence fee should be abolished or cut.”

What do BBC Watch readers think? Can the case for payment enforced by law still be made in the digital age and how would you feel about your licence fee being used to create adverts to persuade you to continue paying it? Tell us in the comments below. 

Related articles:

New BBC DG coy on subject of licence fee

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