This is not such a silly question as the heading suggests. There are several ongoing debates around the BBC and one of the issues is around how people watch TV and what they watch – this is a major part of the discussions on the future of the BBC and the TV licence.
We are told that people do not or rarely watch TV programmes on a TV or at the actual time of the programme transmission. People watch more TV on iPlayer’s, iPad, tablets even phones and watch more TV on catch up – so it has been suggested that a large portion of the population are not paying the licence fee and in this respect they may be right.
But how true is this perception? Is this a generational thing? Do the majority of 60’s/70’s/80’s/90’s etc. watch TV on the little screen of tablets, iPlayer’s etc.? Do families never sit down to watch a TV programme together? Do they all watch the same programme on their separate tablets/iPad etc? Besides which – don’t you have to have some form of broadband for all these gadgets? We know that many older people and poorer families don’t have broadband and use computers in the library if they use them.
Out of interest – how good is it for your eyes to watch everything on a small screen rather than a large screen?
Then we come to the licence itself – the discussion around scrapping the licence because most people are on the various commercial packages – but again is this really true? Are the majority of people on these expensive packages? Would you want to pay by subscription as has been suggested? Would we end up having to pay several subscriptions just to get channels 1-5? What would happen to Freeview that we all had to change to? It may not work very well but does give some options for different programmes even if they are in the most case repeats and game shows. What more do the commercial packages provide – yes sport, yes some natural or history programmes but the majority of the channels are game shows, films and repeats – so what is the advantage for the outlay? Will we have to see every programme ruined by the loud boring adverts every few minutes? What is a worse thought is that if we have to pay by subscription we will probably be inundated with loads of junk mail offering the world – don’t we get enough junk mail already?
I can understand why this debate has come up and at a time of cuts there should be a discussion to ensure fairness in respect of payment. Would it be fair to assume that everyone has a variety of gadgets so increase the licence fee to cover all the accessories to watching TV or should we be asked to pay for the different types of equipment used? This to me seems the most fair and appropriate way of payment for the licence. Looking back into history I have been told that people paid for each TV they had in the house and for radios so it seems logical to pay for what you use.
And of course there is the government’s generous proposal to give the BBC responsibility for free TV licences for 75+. You may have seen Joan Bakewell’s proposals around this. Wasn’t she supposed to be the older peoples champion some time ago? Moving the responsibility to the BBC means that in future years if there are changes to the licence fee or it is phased out or means testing is brought in – people will grumble at the BBC rather than the government – quite astute that don’t you think?
The BBC is one of our few national treasurers left to us like the NHS – both of which are highly respected around the world – the BBC is an independent organisation so should politicians be putting their fingers or in this case their feet into the running of the BBC? We have all seen the effects of political interference to the NHS – do we want the same with the BBC?
So how do you watch TV? What do you think is the fairest way forward for the licence fee? Let us know your thoughts – with your comments as evidence and providing we get lots of comments – we could perhaps lobby on your behalf giving clear statements as to how we feel is the fairest way forward.