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BBC licence fee set to be scrapped, how would YOU pay under new rules?



bbc licence fee scrapped alternative funding plans netflix subscription

bbc licence fee scrapped alternative funding plans netflix subscription

With the BBC licence price set to be culled, what’s going to change the funding mannequin within the UK? (Picture: GETTY)

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The way forward for the licence price has been thrown into doubt, following an announcement by Tradition Secretary Nadine Dorries. The UK Authorities has already introduced plans to freeze the BBC licence price for the subsequent two years – leading to a real-terms pay reduce to the BBC because of the spiralling inflation, that’s additionally set to set off record-breaking worth will increase for these with broadband contracts. The BBC licence price will stay at £159 a 12 months till April 2024 when it’ll start rising in step with inflation till the top of the prevailing Royal Constitution on December 31, 2027. And after that?

The UK Authorities will introduce a brand new Royal Constitution – the constitutional foundation for the BBC, which is designed to set out the broadcaster’s mission and funding mannequin – that may final for the subsequent decade, with a evaluate by ministers on the mid-point. Tradition Secretary Nadine Dorries hopes to introduce a wholly new funding mannequin for the Beeb. An ongoing evaluate by the Authorities will look into whether or not “a compulsory licence price is acceptable” within the twenty first Century.

Politicians have spoken about ditching the BBC licence price for many years, however the newest strikes from Boris Johnson’s cupboard recommend its days might be numbered. If the UK Authorities decides to see off the funding mannequin from January 1, 2028 …what may change the BBC licence price?

Funded Straight By The Authorities

This cuts out the intermediary, changing the necessity for viewers to set-up a Direct Debit and pay the BBC licence price themselves. As a substitute, the Beeb receives its funding direct from the Treasury, with the fee coming from taxation on earnings of all employees within the UK. That is the mannequin utilized in plenty of nations all over the world, together with Sweden, Croatia and Finland. Like all of the choices – together with the present BBC licence price system – it’s not excellent.

Not like the licence price, there’s no method to examine whether or not or not the particular person being taxed listens to BBC radio stations, podcasts, watches the terrestrial channels, reads the BBC web site or makes use of iPlayer. In fact, that’s the character of normal taxation. Taxing PAYE employees would imply there’s no must search out licence price evasion, which might save the company a whole lot of time and problem.

Some have raised issues that funding the general public broadcaster from the Authorities may give politicians better affect over editorial choices and technique – undermining the core precept of impartiality.

bbc licence fee scrapped alternative funding plans netflix subscription

Might we start to see promoting seems on the BBC web site and breaking apart reveals like Strictly? (Picture: UNSPLASH)


The obvious various funding mannequin for the Beeb is to permit the company to air commercial breaks throughout its reveals. Different public broadcasters, like ITV and Channel 4, already embrace advert breaks of their reveals. So, what’s the issue? To start with, the rise of streaming companies like Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ has resulted in a decline in revenues from TV promoting, so there’s no assure that the BBC would have the ability to preserve the identical breadth of content material with funding from promoting alone.

In a bid to bolster its coffers, the BBC may prioritise high-yield programming to promote extra promoting. For instance, Strictly Come Dancing is a Saturday evening juggernaut with 11 million individuals throughout the UK tuning in. These promoting spots are going to herald some critical money for the broadcaster, however what concerning the extra area of interest content material – just like the GCSE BiteSize reveals produced to assist youngsters revise for his or her upcoming exams? These received’t herald big viewing figures and might be ditched – or on the very least, have their budgets significantly decreased – because the Beeb follows the cash so as to maintain itself.

Utilizing Promoting to fund its programming may trigger new frictions for the Beeb, which doesn’t at present have to fret about sustaining relationships with advertisers. Reveals like BBC Newsnight or Panorama are more likely to set off complications for the gross sales group contained in the BBC attempting to promote advert spots within the newest episode of Strictly Come Dancing with essential protection of multi-national conglomerates. If the Beeb is dependent upon these advert breaks to safe its future, it may shift the steadiness of energy. In fact, it’s completely potential to take care of editorial independence whereas being funded by promoting – Channel 4 has revealed a number of the largest scoops of the final decade, together with the Cambridge Analytica and Fb scandal – however it’s one thing that the BBC doesn’t have to think about in the meanwhile and would require a few of its stretched assets.

What Is The BBC Licence Payment?

Launched by the Labour Authorities in 1946, Prime Minister Clement Attlee made the annual BBC licence price a requirement for any family within the UK that consumed content material from the Beeb through dwell transmission. In trade for funds offered by the licence price, the BBC is required to offer public service broadcasting. This consists of dwell tv reveals, podcasts, radio stations, on-line information and sports activities through the BBC web site, instructional reveals for youngsters, cellular apps, and far more.

At the moment, anybody who listens to radio reveals, watches channels streamed through BBC iPlayer on a pill or smartphone, in addition to terrestrial channels watched on Freeview-equipped Sensible TVs, Sky Q or Virgin Media set-top bins is required to pay the BBC licence price. You’ll additionally must pay the price to obtain boxsets and flicks from BBC iPlayer, stream dwell content material from the BBC through third-party web sites like YouTube, or document reveals onto a hard-drive, like Sky+ or Sky Q.

Anybody who doesn’t pay the licence price may be taken to court docket. In 2019, there have been a complete of 122,603 prosecutions and 114,531 individuals have been convicted for TV licence evasion.

The BBC licence price at present prices £159 a 12 months, or £53.50 should you solely watch through black-and-white TVs.

As extra viewers flip away from conventional terrestrial channels and revel in BBC reveals through on-demand platforms like BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer, absolutely it is smart to fund the Beeb from the broadband connections that allow entry to all of that content material? This tax might be paid by customers or by the web service suppliers. In response to analysis by media analytics agency Ampere, an annual price of £138 a 12 months on all broadband prospects throughout the UK would preserve the present funding achieved by the £159 a 12 months licence price. So, everybody would have somewhat additional money of their pocket, the Beeb would stay impartial and wouldn’t want to fret about solely funding its most mainstream, advertiser-friendly reveals. Everyone seems to be completely satisfied, proper?

Properly, not fairly.

If web service suppliers, like BT, Sky and Plusnet, handed the £138 a 12 months cost onto prospects, it might be tougher for disadvantaged households to entry the web. Whereas it’s potential to sign-up to a broadband connection from round £20 a month proper now (with concessions obtainable to these on Common Credit score), the additional £138 a 12 months licence price would add round £11.50 additional to every broadband invoice.

Meaning you won’t have the ability to sign-up a broadband contract with common obtain speeds for below £31.50 a month. With households throughout the UK already stretched because of the cost-of-living disaster, that’s a hefty rise.

Finest Broadband Offers In January 2022

bbc licence fee scrapped alternative funding plans netflix subscription

As extra individuals entry BBC content material over an web connection, may funding be linked to broadband? (Picture: UNSPLASH)

A Netflix-Model Subscription

Netflix has revolutionised how many people take pleasure in boxsets and flicks. From as little as £5.99 a month, subscribers can stream and obtain a vast quantity of telly throughout a variety of units. Attributable to its mind-boggling scale – Netflix is out there in 190 nations worldwide – this comparatively small month-to-month price permits the streaming service to fund dazzling reveals with excessive manufacturing values, equivalent to Bridgerton, The Crown and Stranger Issues, in addition to actuality reveals, award-winning documentaries, equivalent to Making A Assassin, My Octopus Trainer, Athlete A, and Seaspiracy, in addition to blockbusters with Hollywood A-listers. And if that wasn’t sufficient, there’s an enormous library of syndicated content material obtainable too, with the likes of Mates and Seinfeld obtainable to stream from any of your units.

So, absolutely the Beeb can proceed to provide its high-production documentaries, like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, Dynasties, and Louis Theroux reveals, in addition to its Saturday evening leisure, instructional content material, and radio stations with an identical – or perhaps a little costlier – subscription price?

In response to calculations by the BBC, this is potential. Nevertheless, the company would wish roughly 24 million prospects signed-up and paying £13 a month to take care of the identical degree of funding because it at present enjoys. Excellent, proper? Properly, there are a selection of points with that plan. When you don’t subscribe to Netflix, you’ll be able to’t login to the video on-demand app or web site to entry any of its content material …and that’s that.

The BBC licence price at present funds plenty of nationwide radio stations, which can be found to anybody who tunes into the right frequency. It additionally funds the BBC web site and terrestrial channels, like BBC One and BBC Two. Whereas it’s potential to implement a pay wall (a required login display that checks whether or not you’ve paid the most recent subscription price) for BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds in precisely the identical manner as Netflix does, the BBC web site may be put behind related checks (plenty of information organisations have gone down an identical route, with readers required to subscribe to entry the articles posted on-line) …there’s at present no know-how that would stop automotive infotainment methods or DAB radios from tuning right into a sure frequency. Additionally, those that hearken to BBC radio stations through a wise speaker, like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, would wish to discover a method to confirm their id and login so as to tune-in.

And what about tv viewers? It’s powerful to think about a manner for the Beeb to make sure that all viewers are paying subscribers whereas additionally permitting its channels to stay on companies like Freeview. As a substitute, the Beeb must comply with in Netflix’s footsteps and go all-in on streaming. Not like at this time, anybody who desires to entry content material from the BBC – together with radio and dwell terrestrial channels – would wish to subscribe to an web bundle. Meaning you’d not solely should pay £13 a month for entry to the Beeb, however you’d additionally want so as to add a Direct Debit to an web service supplier. As talked about earlier, the minimal speeds you’d must stream video content material will price round £20 a month.

That brings the full price to roughly £33 a month, in comparison with the present BBC licence price price of £13.25 a month. In fact, the benefit of this mannequin is, like Netflix, viewers would have the ability to unsubscribe each time they wished. Like Netflix, you possibly can subscribe for a month when your favorite present is airing, then depart for a number of months, and return when buddies or colleagues inform you a few new must-watch boxset. That provides far more pleasant than the present all-or-nothing licence price.

Sadly, there may be another situation with the Netflix-style mannequin …for now, not less than. In response to analysis from Ofcom, there are multiple million houses throughout the UK which can be unable to entry sufficiently quick broadband to stream video content material, like that obtainable from Netflix. These individuals could be unable to entry any content material from the nation’s public broadcaster, which implies it wouldn’t be fulfilling its mission as set out within the Royal Constitution.

bbc licence fee scrapped alternative funding plans netflix subscription

For a relatively low subscription, Netflix produces a stream of high-quality TV reveals and movie (Picture: NETFLIX )

Worse nonetheless, an answer to this was on the horizon. Early final 12 months, UK Authorities quietly confirmed plans to water down its dedication to deliver full-fibre broadband connections to all the nation by 2025. The pledge to attach each dwelling within the UK with gigabit-capable cables – greater than quick sufficient to stream video content material in ultra-crisp 4K Extremely HD image high quality in addition to preserve video calls, obtain software program updates and extra on the similar time – was a key a part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s manifesto in the course of the election in late 2019.

In its newest nationwide infrastructure technique, the Authorities has walked again its dedication – stating that quicker web speeds will now solely be obtainable to 85 % of premises inside the subsequent 5 years. Meaning plenty of rural areas will nonetheless be stranded with slower broadband speeds. The UK has a number of the slowest dwelling broadband speeds in Europe, with the typical velocity solely hitting 70Mbps final 12 months.

For many who wish to obtain Name Of Responsibility on their PC – a online game that takes up greater than 200GB of area – gamers with the typical connection on this nation can count on to attend six and a half hours. It’ll take virtually 20 minutes to improve to the most recent model of Home windows 11. For comparability, Name Of Responsibility would take simply 27 minutes on a gigabit full-fibre broadband connection, whereas the Home windows replace would take a mere 45-seconds.

…And What If The Licence Payment Stayed After All?

There are nonetheless 5 years earlier than we attain the December 31, 2027 deadline. Based mostly on latest political occasions, loads can occur in that point. 5 years this month, Prime Minister Theresa Might was making ready to host a state go to from US President Donald Trump – which had sparked a petition signed by 1.8 million individuals who wished to see the occasion cancelled.

With an election due earlier than 2024 and doubtlessly a brand new Secretary of State for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport in place – both from the Conservative social gathering, or one other Political social gathering, attitudes in direction of the BBC licence price may have modified. No one believes the present funding mannequin is ideal, however it has sustained the company for over 75 years. That’s some fairly thorough road-testing. With full-fibre broadband upgrades nonetheless happening and the way in which we hearken to radio, eat the information, and watch telly altering so shortly… the prevailing mannequin won’t be one of the simplest ways to maneuver ahead. However we’ll must see the lay of the land in 2027 to make that call.