Is the BBC Worth The Money?


The BBC will no longer be free to pensioners, they will soon need to pay the £155 a year Licence Fee that every other household pays.

That the licence fee is a tax should be obvious. Everyone has to pay it, you don’t get anything you specifically want for it and it is a criminal offence not to pay it. As a flat rate tax it is also a bad tax. It hits the poorer harder than the rich, and collection costs run a touch over 2% of revenue collected.

What Exactly is Public Service Broadcasting?
The answer here seems to be whatever the Beeb wants it to mean, but a more reasonable definition might be this:

Public services tend to be those considered to be so essential to modern life that for moral reasons their universal provision should be guaranteed.

A public service may sometimes have the characteristics of a public good (being non-rivalrous and non-excludable), but most are services which may (according to prevailing social norms) be under-provided by the market.

Which raises some interesting questions about what the Beeb should be doing as its core “Public Service” activity.  Only those things that the BBC does that there is no direct good quality free commercial competition for.  Taking a “minimum requirement” approach, leaves maybe:

Televising Parliament;
Providing Impartial (sic) News;
High Quality Factual Programming;
Advert Free Educational Children’s Television.

Which is maybe 15% of its expenditure. Or about £750m worth. Almost the exact amount the government has historically paid from general taxation for those “Free” over 75 licences.


So cancel the Licence Fee Tax.  The Government can buy those truly Public Broadcasting Services from the BBC or anyone else it fancies, competitively tendered every few years of course.

Auntie will have to market the rest of her wares in the same way as ITV, C4, C5, Quest, Netflix, HBO, Sky and so on and on.  If they do a good enough job then advertisers and punters will voluntarily give them the rest of their bloated budget, maybe more.