Bet On The Licence Fee Again

October 18, 2008

Good news from Parliament:

A backbench Tory MP has dropped his attempt to scrap the TV licence as it had little chance of becoming law… his private member’s bill was attacked by MPs on all sides, including Tory arts spokesman Ed Vaizey who said the party supported the licence fee.

My bet still stands.


2 Responses to “Bet On The Licence Fee Again”

  1. John Simpson doesn’t seem too optimistic:

    “When I raise his comments he confirms that these are indeed his views, although the suggestion that they will get him sacked he describes as a joke. He was led to make them by what he sees as an attack on his employer. “The BBC is, at the moment, streets ahead of what it used to be,” he begins. “When I started with TV news in 1978 we had three foreign correspondents and would rarely lead with a foreign story. Now we’ve got more foreign correspondents than you can shake a stick at and I’m very proud of all that. But this is all dependent on a proper licence fee settlement. We’re already seeing this get eaten into. This year we’ve lost 5% of our budgets.

    “The Conservatives now seem to be committed to slicing off the licence fee and giving it to other television organisations. Michael Grade the other day seemed to be suggesting that ITN wouldn’t exist in ten years’ time, which I took as his bid for a bit of the licence fee. The Blair government did terrible damage, but any future government that slices off the licence fee and hands it around is going to do equal or worse.”

    So is he preparing to lead a campaign? “No, I think it’s inevitable,” he sighs. “If we’re going to get the sort of standards we need, then we’ll be forced to take ads like CBC in Canada and ABC in Australia. What happens there is that the government gets irritated with them from time to time and cut funding, saying take some more ads. TV news costs money. You can do it on the cheap but not well. If the money goes, the BBC goes. It won’t be the public service broadcaster I have known for the past 42 years and I would be really, really upset about that. “

  2. nickreynoldsatwork Says:

    I don’t think The Conservatives are yet committed to top slicing the licence fee. Maybe some conservative (with a small c) opinion thinks this – but there’s been no policy announcement to that effect that I know about.

    I also think that the commercial/ad funded broadcasters would scream blue murder about the BBC’s TV services (and web services) inside the UK being funded by ads – it would undermine them at a time when they are chasing a declining ad market. Why would any government do this?

    I think John is being unduly pessimistic.

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