The BBC - a national disgrace for Britain?

Dan Hodges is a bit of a nut, but in this blog post for the Daily Telegraph he is spot on the mark, in my opinion.

It never ceases to amaze me that we as a nation tolerate the vile legalised extortion that is the TV licence fee. The fact that this is used to fund a wasteful, inefficient, qualitatively second rate, and (above all) politically biased broadcaster is grotesque.

And yeah, I know that some other countries have a kind of licence fee - but I don’t think it’s even remotely as high anywhere else? And neither is it the case anywhere else in the free and democratic world (I’ll stand corrected if wrong) that the state broadcaster is the biggest operator.


(@SanneT: Sorry! :-D)

“The authorities actively harass its citizens in pursuit of those licences. Yesterday it was reported that the BBC sends out 100,000 “enforcement letters” a day, at an annual cost of £5 million. What’s more, it’s had to pay out over £100,000 in “goodwill payments” to people who had complained of harassment. It also emerged that the corporation has received payments from people who already had a licence, but made the payment just to prevent further persecution. The BBC has literally been demanding money with menaces.”

I have written about this on here once before, but I will repeat what I said then. I first went to university in St Andrews almost ten years ago. For the first three years I was there, I lived in this shanty town student accommodation called Fife Park (a comfortable no-nonsence place that cost ÂŁ40 a week in rent). It was six people per house.

Students are in general pretty lazy people, but one thing they don’t do much of is watch TV. Most people didn’t have a TV in their rooms. Nevertheless, we would regularly get threatening letters from the TV license people. The letters would all turn up on the same day, and there would be one for each person in the house (i.e. so each house got six letters). The envelope colours would vary, but usually they were bright red. The letters were addressed to each person individually. They always claimed that they know I am watching a TV in my room, which I wasn’t, and I have not paid the TV license. They would then threaten me with large fines and legal action. The tones of the letters were always very hostile and threatening.

Everyone got these letters, regardless of whether or not they had a TV. It didn’t even matter if they had a TV license. They were just sent out in bulk to everybody, just like those phising emails that we all receive. I have no idea how they knew who was living where. I have no idea how they get away with mass harassment of this sort.

Also, remember those adverts where they would show TV license enforcers sitting in a van parked on some road with all this fancy technology that was meant to detect who is watching TV in their house? Pile of crap. No such technology existed at the time. The only way they could have known if you were watching TV or not is if they came and looked in your window.

But… Dr Who? …surely that’s compensation…

I’m one of those people (and I’m being entirely sincere and honest here, BTW) who simply doesn’t fathom what so many people find interesting/amusing/entertaining about Dr Who! As far as I can see it is more or less complete drivel. But each to his own, I guess. (I still don’t want to be forced to pay for it though.)

I am also one of these people. I don’t know why people are so obsessed with it. Even in Austria, people seem to love it.

I much prefer violent American shows like 24. I have just finished watching Season 3 in German. I have been learning some useful German phrases, such as

WO IST DIE BOMBE???!?!?!?!?!?!




I haven’t (yet) read the article, but I agree that the way the licence fee is applied and enforced needs a good overhaul. It sounds as if the letters in Colin’s post were written and distributed by a set-up of bullying bailiffs (is there anything like that?) It is a disgrace. I still, however, prefer the BBC to any other broadcaster, sometimes for the radio alone (which is a service that not many other people provide - or at least not of equal quality ).

Radio 4 (together with News24) are arguably the best things the BBC does. But let’s be honest: even Radio 4 has become pretty vulgar and dumbed down relative to what is was 15 or 20 years ago. For example, a while back I had some comedy show on in the background while preparing dinner; to my great surprise they broadcast a pretty crude reference to oral sex - something which would have been utterly unthinkable on Radio 4 even just a few years ago! (At any rate, unthinkable in the early evening when children could very easily be listening.)

I must be coming down with something, I am again in agreement with you.

Indeed. I guess I’m getting old, or something! But it doesn’t seem SO long ago (in my memory at least) that there was an altogether higher intellectual calibre to Radio 4: Alistair Cook, David Starkey, et al… And the quality of comedy, the drama, the books at bedtime…everything was quite a few notches higher than it is now, IMO.