A brief history of the £ pound

With a new pound coin design on the horizon, here is a short look at the history behind it all. Don’t you just love the BBC?

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@Sanne: “…Don’t you just love the BBC?..”

'Fraid not :slight_smile:

(I utterly loathe the BBC, and I bitterly resent being forced to fund them…)

I’ve personally always been confused about the origin of Livre - lb or book in French, and Libro in Spanish, and all the other cases like that. The article definetly helped :slight_smile:


What is your opinion of publicly funded education? What is the difference between a state funded network and a state funded school?


I think the state has a duty to provide education to the children of those who cannot afford private education.

But TV and radio? No, I really don’t think so. I suppose there might be an argument for having a single channel news provider if it were strictly politically neutral - but the BBC is bloated in size and very obviously has a leftwing bias.

Anyway, why stop at TV and radio? Why not have publicly funded newspapers too? It’s just wrong, in my opinion. Media organizations are always going to have a bias of some kind, and viewers or readers should be free to vote with their wallets and to subscribe (or not) to whatever they want.

As things stand it is actually a criminal offense for any TV owner in Britain not to pay the fee to prop up the BBC - even if he or she never watches the BBC. This is nothing less than legalized extortion! I hate many of the values which the BBC pushes, and I would be glad never to watch their gunk. So why should I have to pay for it?

Are you really forced to fund them? In France we also have to fund public TV channels but a lot of people say they don’t own a TV and thus don’t pay the “redevance télé”. Not that we hate public TV but I guess that nobody likes paying taxes.

After leaving home to go to university, I only once paid for a TV license. This was when I was living in a house with a few people and we had a TV in the living room. You are only forced to pay for a TV license if you have a TV.


145 Pounds is (maybe?) 175 Euro.

Fine for non-payment 1000 Pounds!


Yes, but the point is, one can perfectly well own a TV and not watch BBC.

Although it is not really true, I tend to view the BBC as part of one larger political body that also included the front benches of the main three political parties. They all have basically indistinguishable political positions that I would describe as center-left-center-right. This political body dominates in Britain and probably will do for a long time. They seem to have come across a particulary fantasic and stable way of dominating the politics of a country.

I know this is not what happened in Britain, but imagine you are a political organisation that is quite powerful in a free and democratic country. How could you gaurantee lasting and almost complete dominance? Based on the situation in Britain, here is the system I suggest. Firstly, break your politcal organisation up into two or more organisations that present themselves as being on opposite corners of the political spectrum. In fact, you can just choose a few issues that you don’t really care about and base all of your disagreements on that. Next, you need to dominate the media somehow. If you can do that, you then present to the public all of these artificial agreements as if they are huge political disagreements widely diverging political parties. In fact, it is not even necessary that your political parties disagree on anything. They can have the same position, but just present their positions in different ways, and this can then be turned into large political disagreements by your media. For example, let’s say that the country needs to cut public spending, one of your political parties can say things like

“We need to make large and deep cuts in order to protect the future of our country!”

and your other politcal party can say something like

“We cannot sacrifise the quality of front-line services by these huge cuts in spending!”

In the end, both political parties would make the same cuts, but since you dominate the media, you present these are two hugely diverging points of view. This is exactly what happened after the last general election in Britain where the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government made 6 billion pounds of cuts to public spending, and Labour pretended that these were vast and brutal cuts in spending despite the fact that their own election manifesto promised cuts worth around 4 billion pounds. No problem, the BBC played their part.

Now, since you dominate the media, the thing to do is to present your politcal parties, how ever many you have, as being the entire reasonable politcal spectrum, and anybody outside of this spectrum can be presented as an ‘extremist’, or something of that sort. What the public sees therefore, is diverse and active politics dominated by a few political parties, with a load of extremists around the fringes. They are then able to choose between several different options and can feel happy about living in a democratic country.

Of course, no conspiricy of this sort ever actually happened in Britain, but the thought experiment does have some value in helping to understand how the British system works.


Thanks for the link, very interesting. I agree, the BBC is a wonderful thing.

If you think it’s a wonderful thing, feel free to fund it, bud. Just don’t force me to do likewise.

Some of the tactics, if I remember correctly, that the TV license guys use to collect the dosh are quite dirty. I remember the adds they used to have on TV, and maybe still do have. They would show a couple of their guys in a van full of weird advanced technology and little satellite dishes and antennas on top. The van would be sitting on some residential street. They then showed messages saying that they can tell if we are watching TV and how many TVs we were watching and stuff like that. These adverts were very dishonest. The TV license people had no technology that allowed them to detect from a van outside of a house whether or not somebody was watching normal TV. The only way they could tell this is by looking in the windows and seeing people watching TV.

I remember my time living in student accomodation at university in St Andrews. I lived in one set of student houses (called Fife Park) for four years. Every year, or maybe even several times a year, I would get letters from the TV license people. The basic message of the letters would always be something like they knew that I am watching TV in my room and if I don’t buy a TV license, I would be prosecuted. Often they came in red envelopes with ‘WARNING!’ or something written on the front. I was quite worried the first time I got such a letter, but then I realised that everybody else in my house, and as far as I could tell, everybody else in this set of student houses got similar letters. Most of these people didn’t have TVs and a lot of the ones who did had licenses. Never once was anybody prosecuted. The TV licence people were just blindly sending out empty threats to groups of students to try to get them to pay for the license.

@HisRoyalGrumbliness: The BBC funded my Black&Decker passion in the 1970s. I used to work at Bush House for the World Service as a night shift typist for the newsroom, typing directly onto stencils whatever the journalists dictated to us. The end result would then be ‘roneod’ to be given to the newsreaders. I managed to buy a set of tools and a Workmate in exchange for some long, long hours and sore fingers (those typewriter keys had to be really whacked in order for the stencil to be cut properly). I only mis-calculated the dimensions of the wardrobe I built a little bit, one of the shelves was rather narrow, I admit.

I hardly ever watch anything else but the BBC, should I be watching telly - although since Snooker migrated partially to other channels, I may have to rethink that.

Like in Germany, the state-funded ARD, ZDF, 3sat and arte are simply the better quality channels. It is a matter of taste and of being prepared to pay for quality programmes (I am not talking about major news coverage). Where would we be able to watch contemporary Swedish thrillers, for example, if it were not for BBC4, I ask?

I am quite happy to carry the poor student population in their flight from the BBC detectors - @ColinJ… you surely cannot have taken those adverts seriously??? Well, I suppose you were young and impressionable.

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@KingCanute No worries, I’m not forcing you to do anything - some people like the BBC and support the license fee and some don’t, no problem with that. I’ve never owned a TV so I’ve never had to pay it, but I certainly wouldn’t object to, as it’s an excellent public service, crammed full of quality programmes and, I imagine, also a great language learning resource too!

I was brought up in a house with the radio always on in at least one room, and I learnt so much from it, and now anywhere feels like home with the BBC on. It’s the thing I miss the most when I’m abroad, apart from the weather of course, and a proper cup of tea! :wink:


P.S. I think my precious handiwork was ‘roneod’ on a Gestettner machine, so it ought to have been ‘gestettnered’ but we didn’t say that so much.


£1000 wow! It’s something like 150€ here, that’s why people take the chance I guess.
Public TV is the best for those who like documentaries on Arte or France 5 and they also broadcast sports events like the Olympics or the Six Nations. They sponsor a lot of films as well. Almost no football though and none of the major American series that people are so fond of. :frowning:

I hate being forced to do something I don’t want to do, let alone pay for it, so I can understand your point of view.

I must say though that I like the BBC, it has been one of my best “language-mates”. I’ve watched tons of their documentaries and news reports in English and Arabic. And some of the BBC Arabic’s female newsreaders are beautiful! Definitely an advantage over Al-Jazeera or France 24.

That was how they did all the duplications when I was in junior school. I always thought the ink smelt like washing-up liquid.

Regarding the BBC, though, even if you don’t watch it, it still raises the bar for other channels. Do you think they’d be falling over theselves to offer on-line viewing if the BBC weren’t there first? The BBC can afford to take risks and still be populist.

If they offered it internationally, I would pay the licence fee and just watch it on-line. Although I probably get more done with the current state of affairs.

@Jorgis: “…some of the BBC Arabic’s female newsreaders are beautiful! D…”

Well, yeah. I guess that is the one argument (the only one!) which would induce me to say something positive about the BBC - they do have one or two cute little numbers on the staff.

(If Fiona Bruce would present programmes in a tight leopard skin bikini, even I would watch them! :-P)

“washing-up liquid”
I’ve always thought that this was a rather silly way of saying “soap” :smiley:

“Do you think they’d be falling over theselves to offer on-line viewing if the BBC weren’t there first?”
Well, I think that was technically because of Netflix and Hulu, or do you guys still not have Netflix or Hulu?

“If they offered it internationally, I would pay the licence fee and just watch it on-line.”
I value quite a lot my BBC-America access. How else would I have learned of the very delightful James May? We also get a lot of reruns from the 80’s (Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine) Good stuff! Our PBS is only sometimes that good.

The BBC were there before Netflix and Hulu were in the UK. Quite a while before (2007, according to Wikipedia). I don’t know when Netflix started their on-demand streaming in the US, but it can’t have been that much before that, just going by the available market with broadband access.

Washing-up liquid has a very different smell to soap. It’s probably because it isn’t fragranced, or if it is, not very well. Anyway, to my pre-pubecent mind, it was specifically washing-up liquid the ink smelt of.

BTW It seems that British MPs are now going to vote to decriminalize non-payment of the BBC license fee. About time too!

In future the BBC may have to sue non-payers in a civil court - which will probably cost them more than it’s worth :slight_smile: