We’ve all grown accustomed, over the years, to being able to just switch on our televisions and having advert free, interesting programmes at our disposal. The BBC has for a long time been the pioneer of entertainment, allowing the licence fee payer to be captivated with quality programmes whenever we choose to tune in.
But I think we can all agree on one thing – it is not what it used to be.
Whether that is good or bad is for you to decide. Everyone has an opinion, many good and many bad. This polemic topic divides all in society, even inciting extremes who refuse to pay the licence fee out of principle.
For me, as you can probably tell from the title alone, I can’t stand it. It has in no small way become a monstrosity. From disingenuous programming to fat cat salary-milking, the BBC is now an unwelcome mutation; a shadow of its former self. It is time that we, the licence fee payer, took back control of our £147 per year.
My first point is that of the monumental waste of money. It is, in the words of a certain controversial American president, ‘yuge’. On the wages of the top ten earners alone the bill stands at £8.95million, which could fund 500 new nurses; instead we get the ‘talents’, if you can even bring yourself to call them that, of Chris Evans and Gary Lineker. The irony is that Gary Lineker has spoken out against the 1% cap on nurses’ wages, yet he seems unwilling to work at the BBC for anything less than the millions of pounds that he creams off them, and you.
One thing is clear to me. It is not justified for us to line the pockets of multimillionaires. It is not justified, for example, to give £250,000 per year to someone who is nothing more than an overexcited Italian with a bit of a talent. This is, in case you don’t know, Bruno Tonioli who’s only show bar Strictly was cancelled in 2007.
Why is there no outrage towards private sector pay? It’s simple – viewers choose to pay to see them, which justifies their wages – the enforced public licence fee is my objection to the BBC. The boss of the BBC earns £500,000 per year – his Sky equivalent earns £6.8million. This is justified, for me, as there is no licence fee funding Sky. That such a cap is in place on Tony Hall’s salary, shows just how much of a degenerate organisation the BBC is; that its on-screen personas are paid more than their boss.
To those who advocate the idea of a gender pay gap at the BBC due to there being many less women than men on the highest salaries, I say this. If those women were just as prominent and had agents who were just as good; there wouldn’t be one.
Just because the government and the people have had the funds to subsidise the BBC for the past eighty years; it doesn’t mean we have now. The consumer simply does not benefit as much from this institution anymore. The licence fee has rocketed from £97.50 to £147 in just twenty years!
Serious questions need to be asked about the willingness and the ability of the British public and the government to fund this service. It is largely inefficient when compared to commercial broadcasters like Sky, for whom adverts and subscription fees fund ventures, when you look at a £147 flat fee per household plus around £245million in grants and £72million in royalties.
However it must be said that the BBC has a budget second in size only to Sky. But it must also be said that these limitations mightn’t apply should it be given the chance to go it alone.
The lifting of the draconian measures used to enforce the licence fee would let the corporation and the customer rest contently, knowing that they are choosing to pay for what they want to watch. There is mass discontent already – 400,000+ households opted out of the licence fee in 2012. There would also be less time and money wasted prosecuting fee evaders; a massive 10% of all Magistrates’ cases are for licence fee evasion.
Questions must also be asked about bias. I will say before continuing that television must criticise the government. What it must not do, is focus constantly on the bad news stories that sow the seeds of discontent whilst shutting out the good news stories. The bias shown by the BBC is more often against the right wing and the anti-establishment initiatives, for example both Corbyn and the Conservative government in the UK have come under fire for most of what they have done.
May’s cabinet has found the focus of the BBC on its disagreements rather than record low levels of unemployment, the lowest earning 30million people being taken out of income tax and success in government efficiency.
In the US, Trump has been the target of many attacks from CNN, focusing on his gaffes rather than his economy breaking records (for three consecutive days last week), a record low level of unemployment and a 74% drop in illegal immigration. Due to the free market for media in the US, however, this is counterbalanced by channels like Fox and rightly so. The freer market means that all sides can put their spin on news and the people can choose between them – the BBC, as the most watched broadcaster in the UK by far – does not allow that choice.
The influential IEA has also called the BBC biased and overall ‘unfit for purpose’.
One of two possibilities will happen should privatisation occur. The licence fee could be absolved into another tax, meaning much-needed fund redistribution. It could also be abolished, encouraging a similar pay-tv model – in a freer market. The same privatisation option could be examined for other public bodies including the NHS following the success of Royal Mail.
There have been several people who have pointed out that excessive wages are necessary to compete with the market. But why compete with it? Join it! Let it thrive! Public ownership can only take a franchise so far – the time has come to let the chick fly the nest. There are so many less constraints in the private sector, as we can see in Sky’s mammoth £6.5billion budget – that’s 270% of the BBC’s programming spending. Sky has dominated Football and, in recent times, F1 and British Open Golf. They bid £4.2billion on football coverage rights for 2016 to 2019 alone.
By letting the BBC join the market, we encourage economic sparring. We encourage competition, vital for consumer choice and higher standards. It must be allowed to fly high and battle with other established giants like Sky, Virgin, BT, ITV. But whilst the BBC is in public hands, its pay structure must respect the people who fund it, whereas in the private sector staff pay reflects the owner’s limits.
Sky is the ultimate private sector success story, having seen its broadcasting expand over six of the seven continents, excluding Antarctica, including domination in sports coverage and award-winning home entertainment and children’s branches.
Why shouldn’t the BBC be any different?