The British Broadcasting Corporation
With the idea of non-partisan participation, what is best for the people of the United Kingdom when it comes to the BBC and the “unique” way in which it is funded?
First, we must understand the relevant parties involved with the decision as to how the funding is collected and maintained. Those people and businesses, included any subsidiaries of the BBC must be taken in to account in order to gain a multifaceted perspective on the entire organisation, its impact on the British people, broadcasting in general, other broadcasters and so on.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) took its present form on 1 January 1927 when Sir John Reith became its first Director General. Reith stated that impartiality and objectivity were the essence of professionalism in broadcasting.
Accusations of a left-wing bias were often made against the Corporation by members of Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s Conservative government. Norman Tebbit called the BBC the “Stateless Person’s Broadcasting Corporation” because of what he regarded as its unpatriotic and neutral coverage of the Falklands War, and Conservative MP Peter Bruinvels called it the “Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation.”
Steve Barnett wrote in The Observer in 2001 that in 1983. Stuart Young, the “accountant and brother of one of Thatcher’s staunchest cabinet allies”, David Young, was appointed as BBC chairman.
After him, in 1986, came Marmaduke Hussey, a “brother-in-law of another Cabinet Minister. … According to the then-Tory party chairman, Norman Tebbit, Hussey was appointed ‘to get in there and sort the place out'”.
Controversies continued with the likes of the Nationwide general election special with Thatcher in 1983, a Panorama documentary called Maggie’s Militant Tendency, the Real Lives interview with Martin McGuinness, the BBC’s coverage of the United States’ 1986 Bombing of Libya and the Zircon affair.
In 1987 Director-General of the BBC Alasdair Milne was forced to resign. Thatcher later said: “I have fought three elections against the BBC and don’t want to fight another against it.”[unreliable source?] In 2006 Tebbit said: “The BBC was always against Lady Thatcher.”
Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC said in 2010 “In the BBC I joined 30 years ago [as a production trainee, in 1979], there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people’s personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the left. The organisation did struggle then with impartiality.”
Former political editor Andrew Marr argued in 2006 that the liberal bias of the BBC is the product of the types of people the Corporation employs, and is thus cultural not political. In 2011, Peter Oborne wrote in his Daily Telegraph blog, “Rather than representing the nation as a whole, it [the BBC] has become a vital resource – and sometimes attack weapon – for a narrow, arrogant Left-Liberal elite”
You can read about the other biases alleged here.
The Licence Fee
How many countries pay a licence fee in order to receive their television and radio programmes?
A TV licence is therefore effectively a hypothecated tax for the purpose of funding public broadcasting, thus allowing public broadcasters to transmit television programmes without, or with only supplemental, funding from radio and television advertisements. However, in some cases the balance between public funding and advertisements is the opposite – the Polish TVP broadcaster receives more funds from advertisements than from its TV tax.
Whilst TV licensing is rare in the Americas, half of the countries in Asia, a few countries in Africa, and two-thirds of the countries in Europe use television licences to fund public television.
The TV Licence has been abolished in 16 countries, including:
Australia; Belgium; Cyprus; Finland; Gibraltar; Hungary; Hong Kong; Iceland; India; Israel; Malaysia; Malta; Netherlands; New Zealand; Portugal; Singapore
The NPP Approach
From the perspective of “what is best for the majority in the UK”, unless there is an independent poll that verifies what the majority of the public feels about the BBC, by asking the right questions to everyone across all ages and interests, determining on balance, what they get for their money, the NPP is of the opinion that on current evidence, the BBC licence fee is an unfair tax on the majority of people in the UK.
Fundamentally, this is about choice. At the moment, it is not a choice as to whether you pay for BBC programmes regardless of whether you watch them. In 2016 (at time of writing) the options for television are enormous and the ability to turn on or off the receiving of BBC programmes should be relatively simple for a broadcaster such as Virgin or Sky.
We think that the fairest way to receive television in the UK would be through advertising streams by the broadcaster. The BBC should therefore have its licence fee revoked and be made to stand on its own two feet as a broadcaster. If the service is as popular as BBC surveys predict, then it will have no problem raising revenues from the British people.
Those on low wages will not be forced to pay for it, and those who would rather not pay for it, will not have to. This is what is best for the country as a whole.