Andy McKay

Apr 24, 2007

Will the TV license make sense?

The BBC is supported by the TV license. I am a huge consumer of the BBC, I listen to the radio a lot. Along with the Guardian it's one of the few bright spots of being in UK. But then again I did consume a huge amount of the BBC in Canada, the web site is brilliant and I listened to the radio. In the UK I don't have a television which means I don't have a license.

This means I'm now marked by the BBC and had a chap who knock on my door, wanting to search my house to verify I had a television. It makes me think of a sketch where a comedian went around to Americans and said, "In the US you need a license to own a gun. Did you know in the UK you need a license to own a television?".

First off recently the television license has changed it's definition to:

You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, set-top boxes, video or DVD recorders, computers or mobile phones to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV.

What they are trying to say is that any time you watch live TV in any way, you need a license, eg:

But the TV Licensing Authority now says watching the BBC's World Cup coverage over broadband will require a licence. This is to stop people receiving TV programmes for free on their computer when they would have to pay to see them on a regular television.

This move makes sense, yes 98% of the population own TV's and it's going to be a long time before that changes. But still it seems odd that I consume so much of the BBC yet don't pay for it. In some ways I would like to support, I believe in the quality that and independent organisation such as the BBC or my other favourite the CBC brings. But a new pricing structure should be brought in that reflects usage. I'd pay to subscribe to BBC content so I can view it online (and this what the new BBC media player will bring) but I'd pay less to get the BBC radio on my computer or access premium content on line.

Will the TV ever die out, not for a long time, but the idea of a TV license will start to get old quickly. Moving the BBC to either being funded directly from central government or for pay structure are some alternatives.