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noggin14,784 posts since 26 Jun 2001

So, apart from subscription - what other ways can the BBC be funded without the licence fee?


Sweden has a personal 'Public Service' fee - which is a payment of 1% of your income (capped at SEK 1300 annually) for all income tax payers (so those on lower incomes don't pay).

It is a per person payment, not a household payment (so a married couple both pay separately I believe, as do adult kids living at home if they are tax payers) and is used to fund SR (Sveriges Radio - the equivalent of BBC Radio), SVT (Sveriges Television - the equivalent of BBC TV) and UR (an educational broadcaster). Those earning SEK 13600/month or less pay a reduced fee.

That's one option.

I believe Germany has a household tax of €17.50/month (I think) that is payable irrespective of whether you own a TV or a Radio. People who receive state aid benefits and live alone are exempt. That money goes to ARD and ZDF etc. to fund public TV and Radio. €210/year per household. (More than the UK TV licence, and in a country with a larger population)

That's another option.

Neither of them are general taxation - and both insulate the broadcasters from political meddling in a similar way to the licence fee, and in a way that funding through general taxation doesn't.
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Riaz630 posts since 6 Jan 2016
Other possibilities are adding the licence fee to council tax or electricity bills.

The situation is complicated by the way in which the BBC also offers radio stations and a website which are 'free' to use - as in a TV licence is not required to use them.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are questions as to exactly what should and should not be considered as PSB, and whether it would make sense to move most stuff which is not PSB material that can probably survive in a commercial environment to a commercial division of the BBC funded by subscription, leaving the PSB division funded by whatever replaces the TV licence.

A hybrid funding model is probably the best solution.
Inspector Sands14,549 posts since 25 Aug 2004
I can't help thinking that the current situation could help the BBC bolster support. Not only is it off the political agenda, but in times of crisis it's the BBC that the country turns to.

Just in the same way that certain policies are suddenly acceptable because they're needed in this emergency, I hope that the value of public service broadcasting will be proven too
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noggin14,784 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Other possibilities are adding the licence fee to council tax or electricity bills.

The situation is complicated by the way in which the BBC also offers radio stations and a website which are 'free' to use - as in a TV licence is not required to use them.

That only complicates an equipment licence - which other European countries are moving away from. If you move to a 'public service' funding model the accepts the public value of a PSB then that's not a major issue.
Quote:

As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are questions as to exactly what should and should not be considered as PSB, and whether it would make sense to move most stuff which is not PSB material that can probably survive in a commercial environment to a commercial division of the BBC funded by subscription, leaving the PSB division funded by whatever replaces the TV licence.

I think that's a route to PSB ghetto, which would potentially mean the public services provided were only those the market did not. That would be a recipe for disaster, and the public - and then politicians - would probably question the value of the core public service.

If you only did Newsnight and didn't do Top Gear, only did Sunday Politics and didn't do Strictly - you'd have a lot of people asking questions...

Plus commercial funding would cannibalise the advertising revenue for other public service broadcasters - ITV, C4 and C5.

Quote:

A hybrid funding model is probably the best solution.


Not everyone agrees. I think both the German and Swedish models have some merit - and both were triggered by an acceptance that general public service broadcasters (not narrow 'what the market doesn't provide') are good for national life, and that access to services is on so many devices, it makes no sense to tie payment for them to a single device type.
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Brekkie34,004 posts since 4 Jan 2003
HTV Wales Wales Today
I can't help thinking that the current situation could help the BBC bolster support. Not only is it off the political agenda, but in times of crisis it's the BBC that the country turns to.

Just in the same way that certain policies are suddenly acceptable because they're needed in this emergency, I hope that the value of public service broadcasting will be proven too

And the point really needs to be made that while the elderly are in quarantine relying on the BBC that it is the government that have withdrawn their free licences, not the BBC.
Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
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Riaz630 posts since 6 Jan 2016
I think that's a route to PSB ghetto, which would potentially mean the public services provided were only those the market did not. That would be a recipe for disaster, and the public - and then politicians - would probably question the value of the core public service.

If you only did Newsnight and didn't do Top Gear, only did Sunday Politics and didn't do Strictly - you'd have a lot of people asking questions...


This is highly debateable. Bear in mind that BBC radio and website are available to use by those who don't pay for a TV licence, but are funded by those who do pay for a TV licence. Therefore it's possible to make certain popular entertainment TV channels subscription whilst most PSB material is on a channel that's 'free' to watch.
noggin14,784 posts since 26 Jun 2001
I think that's a route to PSB ghetto, which would potentially mean the public services provided were only those the market did not. That would be a recipe for disaster, and the public - and then politicians - would probably question the value of the core public service.

If you only did Newsnight and didn't do Top Gear, only did Sunday Politics and didn't do Strictly - you'd have a lot of people asking questions...


This is highly debateable. Bear in mind that BBC radio and website are available to use by those who don't pay for a TV licence, but are funded by those who do pay for a TV licence.


Yes - that's why a move away from a licence fee to another arms length funding system works, and is being used in other countries. The era of basing the funding on ownership of a specific piece of receiving equipment for just one of the forms of service that the BBC provides is going to be difficult to justify in the future.

However the benefits of a popular public service broadcast service are very easy to argue. BBC One is the most popular TV channel in the UK and also has the most watched news output of any broadcaster in the UK. Those two things are linked - and that is a public service.

Quote:

Therefore it's possible to make certain popular entertainment TV channels subscription whilst most PSB material is on a channel that's 'free' to watch.


If you remove the popular stuff from the PSB channel, you ghetto-ise the PSB.

That's why other European countries have specifically NOT gone to a mixed subscription/taxation model - they know any PSB that only shows what is tightly defined as 'PSB' content (whatever that is) is not a good idea for ensuring widespread audiences of public service content...

Popular shows on public service channels keep public service viewing at a decent level (which is the point of them being public service).
Last edited by noggin on 15 March 2020 11:16pm
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Charlie Wells3,867 posts since 26 Nov 2003 Moderator
Anglia (West) Look East (West sub-opt)
On a related note just announced...
Quote:
BBC delays over-75 TV licence fee changes
The BBC is to delay TV licence fee changes for the over-75s until August in light of the coronavirus situation.

Free TV licences for up to 3.7 million people had been due to be scrapped on 1 June, but that has been put back to 1 August.
<snip>
The BBC confirmed it will foot the cost of the two-month delay.

Full article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-51911065
"Listen, we've all got something to bring to this conversation, but from now on what I think you should bring is silence." - Rimmer
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Riaz630 posts since 6 Jan 2016
Yes - that's why a move away from a licence fee to another arms length funding system works, and is being used in other countries. The era of basing the funding on ownership of a specific piece of receiving equipment for just one of the forms of service that the BBC provides is going to be difficult to justify in the future.


One could argue that the TV licence was the most sensible system of funding the BBC at a time when only a fraction of the population had a TV at home, but once the figure reached 90% then replace the TV licence with a government grant out of taxation in order to eliminate the hassle of collecting the licence fee and having to prowl the streets with TV detector vans to catch out evaders. An argument against this system was that the BBC provided plenty of popular entertainment as well as PSB material, which should only be paid for by people who own a TV rather than the taxpayer in general.

Quote:
If you remove the popular stuff from the PSB channel, you ghetto-ise the PSB.

That's why other European countries have specifically NOT gone to a mixed subscription/taxation model - they know any PSB that only shows what is tightly defined as 'PSB' content (whatever that is) is not a good idea for ensuring widespread audiences of public service content...

Popular shows on public service channels keep public service viewing at a decent level (which is the point of them being public service).


It is a hugely debatable subject. At one end of the scale it could be argued that the majority of the British public are only willing to pay for (irrespective of how it is funded) a PSB broadcaster, or even use its services at all, on the condition that it also provides plenty of mass market popular entertainment that could easily succeed with a commercial broadcaster. At the opposite end of the scale are those who believe that a PSB broadcaster for Britain should be similar to the American PBS where the majority of popular entertainment is migrated to subscription channels.

Would it be a good idea to hold public consultations, or even a referendum, on the future arrangement of the BBC and how it should be funded?
Inspector Sands14,549 posts since 25 Aug 2004

One could argue that the TV licence was the most sensible system of funding the BBC at a time when only a fraction of the population had a TV at home

Surely the most sensible system of funding when few people had TVs was the way they used to fund the BBC... the radio license?