Sunday, November 12, 2006

Of course, for every good article, balance must be restored

John Naughton's incisive piece in today's Observer requires, of course, an imbecilic piece to balance it out.

Thankfully, Will Hutton (as usual) delivers.

Will makes an impassioned defence of the BBC (saying that it is right that we should be forced to pay ever increasing sums for it). As Tim Worstall points out, Will's argument can be distilled down to: "The poor should be hit with a regressive tax so that I, a wealthy upper middle class type, can get the TV I like."

Indeed.

4 comments:

Jon Deane said...

Of course! The poor never watch the BBC and receive no benefit from it at all. After all, they're too busy walking their whippets and having merry sing-songs down the working men's club.

Richard Brown said...

Not quite what I said... :-)


If people find the BBC so great (which, mostly, they do because it's pretty good in parts), they should be free to choose to pay for it.

So, just what, exactly, *is* the argument for the TV licence (tax)?

The one I hear most goes something like this:

"If people were free to choose whether to pay for the BBC (and enjoy the benefit of watching it), some proportion of people would choose not to. Therefore, those that are left would have to pay more."

But what that argument is saying is really: "those who don't want to watch the BBC must be forced to pay for it anyway in order to subsidise those who do want to watch it."

How is that justifiable on any level?

Jon Deane said...

You're assuming that not wanting to pay is the same as not wanting to watch. Those that don't watch at least some of the BBC's output on a regular occasion are very few and far between. Those who moan about paying for it are considerably less so :p.

But the truth is, most people are very keen to keep a public broadcaster that is free of political and commercial control, which inevitably means direct public funding.

How would you fund that in such a way that guarantees its independence and ensures the income required to provide the service?

Richard Brown said...

"You're assuming that not wanting to pay is the same as not wanting to watch. Those that don't watch at least some of the BBC's output on a regular occasion are very few and far between. Those who moan about paying for it are considerably less so :p."

:-)

Well...... if you've paid for something, it's hardly surprising that you use it!

"But the truth is, most people are very keen to keep a public broadcaster that is free of political and commercial control, which inevitably means direct public funding."

Be careful.... you're getting dangerously close to confusing "intent" with "outcome".

I think you're right that most people are keen to *have* a broadcaser that is free of political or commerical *influence*. Whether that is what we have right not is doubtful (the BBC *does* have an agenda and it not even close to being neutral).

But, regardless, I think the licence fee's supporters have a lot of work to do eo convince the public that a tax, controlled by government, is the way to fund an organisation that is free of political control....

"How would you fund that in such a way that guarantees its independence and ensures the income required to provide the service?"

Well, a trite argument would be that if people truly did value an independent broadcaster they would be willing to pay for it themselves.... 20 million individual funders would find it far harder to influence the BBC in a particular direction than a single funder (government).

Indeed, if people truly were interested in seeing an independent BBC it strikes me that they should support some form of public subscription.