Don't watch the BBC? Pay up anyway.

BBC bias explained in a single image
The linked to article at the bottom of this entry explains how there are plans for the BBC to charge every household in the UK for their services, regardless of whether you watch live TV or not.

As someone who has worked all their adult life in media I find this very disturbing. I've stuck mainly to commercial radio work but there are many great broadcasters at the BBC. It has bigger budget than any commercial media in the UK and pays the highest salaries by a significant margin so it can attract some of the best. I often wonder if those broadcasters are happy that their paymasters seem unconvinced there is another way of funding them? A subscription fee, voluntary donations, pay per view? The list is endless.

The current situation seems unfair. Poll taxes hit the poorest hardest. If you are fortunate financially £145 might not seem like a lot but don't fall into the trap of thinking your sense of the value of money is the same as those with less than you. Glib responses such as, "oh it's only the price of a loaf of bread each week" only serve to further highlight your ignorance.

An honest debate about the BBC is difficult within a circle of broadcasters and media types. Those who want to work there will accuse me of being bitter that I don't. Just as those who don't work there can assume those who do are only doing so to make easy money off a Government subsidy. As a result there's a veil of secrecy surrounding it. A sort of gentleman's agreement not to discuss it. 'Don't talk about that, it's my pension plan!'. Anyone working in the media knows the lion's share of the market is in the hands of the BBC and I used to avoid the topic for precisely that reason. Then the ghost of Jimmy Savile emerged and it became clear that money for silence over moral wrongs could have terrible consequences.

That's why these days I think the current arrangement has got to stop. Only poor people go to jail for not paying up. Surely only people who rely on that arrangement for an easy financial life think that's fair.

I found my very brief stint at the BBC to be the most morally confusing period in my career. I did a few cover shifts in local radio and could not escape a profound sense of shame throughout it. I'd failed and Her Majesty's socialist Government had won, went my thought patterns. What gave me the right to steal money off the public like that?

I've always thought that was why the organization as a whole has a "left wing" bias. A profound sense of guilt must pervade the buildings. Knowing that others have been FORCED to pay for their media lifestyles must grind, at least on a subconscious level. Surely no one thinks it's right that we're pumping money, that could be used to feed people's children, into the pockets of media "celebrities"?

How can anyone seriously defend the organization given the extent to which it covered for Jimmy Savile? Quick reminder, they wanted to SPIKE the story about him being a pedophile. Not, knock it back and leave it until later but squash it entirely.

For that alone the BBC's funding model should be forgotten. It does not provide what it is supposed to, an independent media. In truth we have an organisation which calls Her Majesty The Queen "famously frugal". It serves those in power and punishes the powerless for the crime of not having a spare £145. Sell most of it off to the private sector. Use the advertising generated to stimulate the economy. If we have to pay for a state broadcaster it should focus only on honest factual programming. This could include news journalism.

Comedy, soap operas and game shows are already provided by commercial companies. In our culture such things are practically ubiquitous. There's no need to fund more with a poll tax. The party is over.

Nick Margerrison

Related tweets from media people on my twitter feed:

BBC licence fee alternative should be paid by everyone – even if you don't watch TV

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