The television world has changed so much in just my lifetime.
We’ve gone from two black and white TV stations on 405 lines, that began broadcasting at 4pm, barely gave an hour of children’s programming a day, and shut down at 11pm every night, and now have access to several hundred 24/7 broadcast TV stations (several in HD), and a handful of full-time streaming services.
Whether the quality of the programming is better or not… well, that’s a point based largely on public taste.
Perhaps we were less choosy in past days? And now, with so much multiple choice we’ve come to demand more
high quality of what we like.
And because we have so much choice, we also choose from where we want to consume
our high quality what we like.
And that’s the point: fro where we consume our television entertainment.
As a family, we don’t watch BBC TV.
Also, we don’t listen to BBC Radio.
And yet opting out of the BBC tax (aka licence fee) is more difficult than a very difficult thing.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about whether the BBC should be funded by subscription.
Certainly the technology exists to make BBC TV a pay-per-view service.
But would that be a good move?
What about my comment above, about the viewer demanding more
high quality of what they like?
I mean, if Mrs Brown’s Boys can be voted Best Comedy at the NTAs, would a BBC TV subscription service be a fast journey to the bottom of the Sea of Taste?
Does having a BBC
tax licence fee protect the quality of BBCs programming?
It has strongly been argued that the quality of BBC News needs improving – a view with which I would agree.
Indeed, the very poor quality of the BBCs news and current affairs output is yet another reason why I no longer use the BBCs services.
But aside from its dire output in news and current affairs, what has the BBC ever done for us?
Well, in years gone by BBC Comedy gave us Dave Allen – a show which would be unlikely to make it to air in these sensitive times.
And Monty Python of course – a show which would definitely not make it to air these days.
Flowery Twats Fawlty Towers – see above about not making it to air.
I could go on, but the qualitative examples of past BBC comedy have been set here, and the bar is very, very high.
These days BBC Comedy gives us Miranda (not a comedy), and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order (not a comedy), and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy
Car Crash Roadshow (not a comedy).
Maybe I’ve got that wrong, perhaps I’m being a bit down on the BBCs comedic output.
Perhaps, in thirty years, consumers will look back fondly on episodes of Miranda and chuckle with mirth.
Alright, I concede that’s an unlikely event, but just for the sake of balance let’s leave that view in there.
And under the current affairs banner, the BBC used to have Panorama when it was a crusading firebrand of investigative journalism.
These days we have (and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this) Question Time.
In short, I don’t know whether a shift to subscription would be a good thing or a bad thing – either for the BBC or for the BBCs viewers.
Only posterity can judge that.
I do know that our household could save £154.50/year, and we wouldn’t miss the products or services that not paying that tax would take away from us, not miss them one bit.