By in Movies & TV

The BBC and the licence fee

Back in August 2014, the BBC had a review of one of its own shows thus: Mixed reviews for BBC gymnastics show .

I read it and shook my head in disbelief. Firstly, that the was even made in the first place, and secondly, because more people tuned in to watch a repeat of a sitcom (and that's a post in its own right, that...).

Here in the UK, for my international readers, the , colloquially 'the Beeb', is our national broadcaster, non-commercial and funded by an annual licence of around £150, paid by anyone who has at least one TV in their house. Formerly, it had a reputation for making amazing natural history programmes, wonderful costume drama and ground-breaking comedy.

These days, I grudgingly pay our household #licence fee, because recently, there has been very little worth watching. In the last year I can remember seeing the Commonwealth and Olympic Games coverage, the Tour de France (which is on a commercial channel anyway), the Remembrance (Veterans') Day commemorations and the New Year celebrations. Other than that, our #television has rarely been on.

The reason? Too many 'cookie cutter' TV and vote'em off shows. Far too many. Soap operas and naff comedy by the bucketload. Even the documentaries I used to watch aren't worth it any more.

The commercial stations aren't much better, come to think of it. Big Brother, as described by the Guardian, is ' a grim, unwatchable carnival of misery '. One housemate was kicked out for harrassing another housemate, and another, who had been ticked off for suspect use of derogatory language, subsequently left. The answer to this car crash TV, as revealed in the comments to ' Get Your Act Together: the most humiliating celebrity talent show ever? ' by patches1999, is apparently Katie Price.

melon1234 reminded me just now that BBC3 is making its way online and being axed from terrestrial TV. I also read yesterday that it is a distinct possibility that the World Snooker Championships , held in Sheffield since 1977, could move to China once the current deal is up. If that happens, the BBC will probably lose rights to broadcast it, and it'll go to TV on Sky or similar.

It's time for the licence fee to be abolished.

TV companies are vanishing before they can even make a single show: Birmingham local TV firm City TV in administration - BBC News . People don't necessarily want to sit down at a set time each week and watch the next show in the series. Binge watching shows on DVD is A Thing . This makes them more the length of a film and allows viewers to follow plotlines seamlessly.

The only gymnastics I want to see is coverage of top level competition. I'd pay for that if it meant that my money was used to meet running costs of bringing that coverage to me, and allowed me to watch said coverage at a time and place convenient to me.

I do not wish to see (no matter that the Beeb was going on a few months back about 'more football than ever'), nor misbehaving - or just plain naff - celebrities doing anything at all.

If the licence fee was abolished, I wouldn't have that sinking feeling that my money is funding something of no benefit whatsoever to me, featuring people I've never heard of doing things I'd never do for money, never mind on TV.

And I can think of far better things to do with the £150 I would thus save from not having to pay for a service from which I do not benefit.

From the comments on the original post, it seems like many of the Brits agree with me, and the US contributors say that their public stations are struggling for money too.

A version of this post originally appeared on on 8 August 2014. This has now been taken down and links to it show 404.

Image Credit » television by nemo on pixabay, CC0 public domain

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DDS1 wrote on January 19, 2015, 11:18 PM

As a Canadian I can fully caution you against ANYTHING called a 'Beeb' Trust us on this one! emoticon :winking:

Sheilamarie78 wrote on January 20, 2015, 1:30 AM

What would Britain be without the BBC? I have loved some of the dramas they've produced, but I can't imagine having to pay that hefty license fee.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 2:36 AM

*grin* No, we don't recognise him either. At least not in this house.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 2:37 AM

So have I. And the documentaries. But today's output merely embarrasses me deeply. And takes my hard earned money for no apparent reason.

MegL wrote on January 20, 2015, 4:22 AM

I got rid of my TV MANY years ago, so no licence fee. But there is also a saying, "Pay, nuts, get monkeys". Many people I know pay a fee for satellite TV of at least £30 a month (about $50). That's £360 a year and you STILL get advertisements? Some pay more, to get special sports or film channels. If the BBC got that type of income, plus advertising income, no doubt it could fund whoever the new David Attenborough will be to go to the Arctic, the jungles and the topmost mountains in the world.

Hollyhocks100 wrote on January 20, 2015, 5:40 AM

British Tv used to be so good, but before moving to Spain I realised it was become all far fetched soap operas and make over shows, as well as the reality Tv you mentioned ( though it bears no resemblance to my reality) No TV license in Spain, but our local TV and Radio station here in Valencia was closed a couple of years ago, and it was a massive station and very popular. Since then a lot more have shut down too.

JohnRoberts wrote on January 20, 2015, 8:55 AM

British TV should be run like US TV. No forced license fees to subsidize programming you don't wish to see. Here, even the government supported PBS runs on donations and a very small portion of tax money. Why should BBC be funded by you when ITV etc don/t Is Thames still around?

LilyDay wrote on January 20, 2015, 1:16 PM

As an American who has considered (and is still considering) the possibility of making the jump to that side of the Atlantic, I am aware of the licence fee.

Comparing today's BBC to what is available on our PBS stations, I must say that PBS often wins out. Part of the reason is that some of the best of British programming is brought here; we are generally spared the less appealing programs (with a couple of exceptions that immediately spring to mind).

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 2:41 PM

I know many people say £150 is good value. Compared to £360 for even more channels of drivel, yes it is. Who do you think is, or wants to be, the new Sir David, then?

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 2:47 PM

That's what gets me too. They're called 'reality TV' shows but it isn't my world. People supposedly watch soaps and reality because it's a break from their own lives. But unless you're talking Honey Boo Boo, many people DO have exactly that life as their reality, so it what was is it a break from the norm?

kat123456 wrote on January 20, 2015, 2:48 PM

I fully agree. We pay for subscription TV and watch very little on the BBC. The licence fee is outdated

mrtoffee wrote on January 20, 2015, 2:51 PM

The beeb really has lost its way recently, we tend to watch Discovery most nights as it is the most interesting channel

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 3:07 PM

I can't recall if Thames is still around or not. To be honest I suspect it's been taken over by someone else, most of the smaller regional companies have been by now. I want my annual £150 back, because as things go, it's a waste of money. Trouble is, we're such a connected house, no one would believe we saw no TV. My husband watches things on the catch up if he fancies, and that doesn't need a licence fee if you watch it so many hours after the last broadcast.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 3:08 PM

We get a heap of your programmes too though. Some of them are better than others, I hear.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 3:10 PM

Trying again as that damn autostarting Medical Theater video ate my last comment when it rebooted the page. I don't have enough money for subscription TV and I won't give any money to Murdoch if I don't have to.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 3:11 PM

I hear even that's under fire for losing its way and dumbing down now too.

mrtoffee wrote on January 20, 2015, 3:28 PM

I hope not wordchazer at least there are no "reality TV" shows or rubbish soaps emoticon :smile:

JohnRoberts wrote on January 20, 2015, 4:42 PM

Good old Thames. Home of Benny Hill. We Americans think British TV is all fabulous Downton Abbey when the reverse is true. The last time I was in London, I was appalled at all the reality shows and so few dramas and way too much American programing.

GemOfAGirl wrote on January 20, 2015, 9:05 PM

As an American of the USA variety (because technically, you're an American, too, emoticon :winking: ), that made me laugh!

GemOfAGirl wrote on January 20, 2015, 9:07 PM

When I was in high school, I knew an exchange student from Jersey, and I asked him what he thought of our media. He told me that our television was inferior, because the BBC doesn't have all the commercials that we have. Between the commercials and all the dumb reality shows, I don't watch a lot of television myself. I probably would if it was better.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 9:36 PM

Getting stuff done is always the recipe for a good day, at least in my book. Glad to hear you hit the mark today.

WordChazer wrote on January 20, 2015, 9:40 PM

That'll teach me, just left the previous comment on the wrong post. Oops.

BodieMor wrote on January 22, 2015, 6:44 PM

I prefer watching public television here, not least because of all the wonderful BBC shows that are televised, especially on Masterpiece Theater. I have to assume they must have hand-picked the best of them!