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Does the BBC or BSkyB spend more on programmes?

I am sure you know that in 2013, British Sky Broadcasting had an income of 7,255 million pounds. More or less exactly twice what the British Broadcasting Corporation gets from the licence fee payer. So, who spends the most on programmes?

Who spends the most on programmes for viewers, Auntie or Rupert?   Photograph: Shutterstock
Who spends the most on programmes for viewers, Auntie or Rupert? Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

Once it was unfashionable to have an opinion on accounts. If you needed to have one, you would hire a professional to arrange something for you.

But, no more! Everyone has an opinion about the accounts of the BBC. Is twenty grand a week too much for flying people to Salford? You decide!

I thought it might be instructive to look a little more into the idea that the BBC now has just one quarter of what BBC boss Tony Hall recently called "broadcast revenues" (which is the licence fee plus subscription plus spot advertisements income).

To that end, I have compiled a chart to compare the way that the BBC and Sky spend the money they get from the British public.

The first thing you can't help noticing is that the BBC spends MORE on programmes than Sky. We also know £767m a year (31%) of Sky's programming costs are for the 116 Premier League soccer matches it shows.

Other number to note is that to collect from 26.5m homes costs the BBC £111m (£4 each) , to collect from 10.4m Sky homes (including in RoI) £647m (£62 each).

I suspect you can't help noticing that Sky spends £1.1 billion on "marketing".

As BSkyB is a private company, you can't deny the need to for them pay their shareholders profits. Last year that was £1.3 billion.

A note of caution then: if you could sell off the BBC it will most likely end up costing double for the same service. Just like, some may say, gas and electricity...

The Tony Hall graphic.

Cost of TV Licence over time, which is a Brian Butterworth graphic you will also find on Television licensing in the United Kingdom (historical) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For your delectation and delight you can read the 2013 BSkyB Annual report here:

BSkyB Annual Report 2013

And the BBC's here:

BBC Annual Report Financial statements 2012-13

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Sunday, 15 December 2013

10:47 PM

Richard Baguley: I'm not sure that Trevor Harris has been treated shabbly on this thread - he has a different viewpoint from most , but in fact I do agree with him that the licence fee negotiations were a disaster for the BBC (in Washington, this is known as a 'Christmas Tree' bill - everyone hangs something on it), that bit rates for radio could be higher, and I too hate it when the BBC wastes money.

Its true that the licence fee is collected as a tax (although a ring-fenced one), but as Brian has pointed out, this actually reduced costs, as its the most efficent way of collecting review.

I think you may be suffering from cognitive dissonance if you think that you can scrap the BBC , but expect a service similar to the one you get from 'BBC2 & 4 plus parts of R2, 3, 4 and WS'. The whole point of the BBC is that we all get something from it, and it works best as part of a whole - there is no way that the WS, Radio 4 or 3 would be commercially viable, so how would they be supported? And how would you collect revenue?

There is a tendency for many people to come up with the idea of scrapping the BBC, or large parts of it, but leaving the bits they like, while ignoring how such services would be funded, or if they are suggested, in a way that makes sense.

And while you complain about the lack of sport (which, as we've pointed out, is mainly the result of sports rights being bought up by Sky, etc), is there any actual basis for the idea that the BBC programming has declined? Have a look at what people actually watch and listen to, and you find that BBC programming scores very highly. Look at the graphics that Brianist used - the BBC is actually used more by people than it used to be, so it must be doing something right, especially in this multi-channel world.

Please put aside the idea that somehow the BBC is full of left wingers broadcasting nothing but propaganda - Labour actually objected to coverage, and although much of the Today Programme wants to make me shout at the radio with its coverage of economics, science, climate change and overseas politics (The WS does things far better), its far better overall than its US equivalents. People are prone to comfirmation bias - if you think the BBC is biased, then you'll see that bias. Of course the same will go for someone else, even if they think that bias is the opposite of the one you think it is.

Overall, the current model works, or is at least (to paraphrase Churchill),' the worst, apart from all the rest'. Again, I cant think of another single broadcaster that gives a wider range of programming, of such overall quality, for so little money from the individual user.

Its not perfect, but no organisation is, especially one which produces so much material for public consumption. But if you look at the alternatives, its difficult to see how we would be better off if it disappeared.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Sunday, 5 January 2014

4:51 PM

the licence fee cant last it gives the bbc an un fair advantage agianist commercial broadcast s it must move towarda a subscription service let people who want the bbc pay for it .Its unfair that the licence fee is not based on income

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david's 63 posts GB

5:19 PM

david: By not screening commercials it makes advertising revenue available to the commercial channels that would have been lost to them. There is the argument that BBC services should take commercials to fund the popular programs, the licence fee would then be split among all broadcasters who offer PSB content, including local TV and Sky News as well as providing Radio3, Radio4 and BBC local radio. Without the revenue from the licence fee to maintain the same level of revenue in broadcasting generally the existing terrestrial services "could" combine with Sky to offer a basic package which all viewers would take unless they did not want UK channels. Such an arrangement would be cost effective and simply an extension of existing pay tv practices. Catch up tv would then all be subscription based - ITV is already laying the foundations for this!

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB

7:28 PM

KMJ,Derby: David's idea simply do not add up - as has been shown clearly, subscription services need to be policed, at a cost much higher than a flat fee. It must also be pointed out that Sky's fees are also not income based, and that the general licence fee also now pays for the license fees of the over 75's.

As for the idea that the licence fee should be top sliced amoungst the PSB's - why? Firstly, this would be a constant weapon at the head of the BBC by any government (be nice to us, or face a 20% cut next year..this is pretty much what happened to PBS in the States).

Secondly - why should we pay for a reasonable level of broadcasting quality and social value , when broadcasters should be doing that anyway? Sky New's isn't PSB (although its not bad), its a loss leader to say to people that Sky isn't just about imported shows and sport.

Viewers already have to have a basic level of PSB services, no matter what the broadcaster, so paying broadcasters who have to do it anyway (and in the case of Sky, have actually made money from a service that their customers would have wanted anyway) makes little sense.

Catch up TV is much more popular than even a year ago, but slow broadband speed, older equipment, existing habits, and the fact that most TV is still watched live would preclude subscription, at least until an efficent and cost-effective model can be found.

There is one other reason not to have adverts on the BBC - the other broadcasters would hate it. There is only so much advertising revenue (although there has been steady growth overall), and much of it has gone onto the net (the tipping point was in 2009). Even though revenue has increased post crash, and market share continues to be about the same UK ad spend set to hit record £14bn | Media | , TV will face problems from the increasing non-linear viewing habits we've developed (PVR's fast forward ads, we are watching more online, etc)
Connected TV: what are the TV advertising developments and the policy challenges? - Newsletter ?EUR" Analysys Mason Quarterly - News | Analysys Mason

Why would I want, as a commercial broadcaster, to have to fight for revenue with the BBC? Its a big brand, which already advertises on its overseas services (such as BBC America), with a huge reach, popular programmes and a massive back catalouge. Much better for them to do their own thing, and use the spinoff of talent, etc to help your own programming. Yes, Sky would like a version of the USA's PBS/NPR, but for most of us, we would lose far more than we gained, included the commercial broadcasters.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Sunday, 12 January 2014
Mike Davison

3:29 PM

I'm a firm believer in the licenced to own a TV structure supporting a service provider i.e. the BBC. I should like someone to update the following fact which was said to me in the days of one BBC-TV channel and one ITV channel in the early 60's. Direct cost of all BBC services £4 licence, indirect cost of ITV through costs of advertising being passed through higher prices £6. Surely the plethora of 'special deals' that people claim to get from Sky which starts from a very high level shows the weakness of a service not a success and you pay for the privelege of watching adverts as well. How stupid is that?

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Mike Davison's 127 posts GB
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Mike Davison

5:40 PM

I think we've all gone through the search for 'perfect' hi-fi and now TV but some have become realistic and accepted 'almost perfect'. Those that haven't remind me of a cartoon in 'Hi-Fi News' in the sixties where a sad bearded audiophile explains to his girlfriend that now he has oscilloscopes instead of loudpeakers he 'can see it's perfect'.

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Mike Davison's 127 posts GB

5:46 PM

Mike Davison: My godfather was high up in the QUAD company, that made Electrostatic speakers.…ning

I remember being very impressed by the oscilloscopes that showed that each of the newly minted speakers each matched up against the reference speaker in the "padded room". The oscilloscope showed that the microphone was picking up silence because one speaker was being sent the inverted signal from the other.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Mike Davison

2:21 PM

Quad - a highly revered name in the search for 'Fi'. I suppose 'Hi-Fi' is like saying something is 'whiter than white'. It is a pity that Quad Electrostatic loudspeakers were so large. They were good but wasn't their bass response a little suspect?

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Mike Davison's 127 posts GB

2:40 PM

Mike Davison: From what I recall they could produce a great bass sound, but as they didn't actually sit on the floor you wouldn't get the effect of a wooden speaker.

I guess that you would probably use a sub-woofer if you wanted the floor to shake.

Someone stole mine, so I only have fond memories: especially of them taking up a lot of space.

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB

2:48 PM

Mike Davison: One thing I do remember from being a child in the early 1980s and going to "hi-fi shows" to see my god father.

QUAD would get their one pair of speakers and one amp out and demonstrate it with a range of music from classical.

Then you would go around the show and see other stands. Wharfedale would have their "laser" speakers and they would demonstrate them in turn, with the same music (I recall the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's "The Astronauts") and you could hear the inferiority of each.

Then I would see say KEF with their silly "bounce the sound around" speakers (that looked for all the world like K-9).

Explore KEF - Reference Series Model 105 - KEF United Kingdom

To this very day there's brands I don't trust because of their poor performance in Harrogate in 1981!

I've mostly got B&W speakers: a main pair of studio monitors, and the "Blue Room minipods".

I friend had some of these B&W speakers

Bowers & Wilkins - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Briantist's 38,844 posts GB
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