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What is the BBC going to cut to fund free TV licences for 4m homes with over 75s

Just before the turn of the century, popular - with 43.2% of voters - New Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown found 300 million quid to pay the TV Licences for households with pensioners aged 75 or over. The dilemma for Tory Chancellor George Osborne, with 36.9% of the population behind him and cuts to make, is how to live up to a recent manifesto commitment to keep the pensioner benefits?

George has to save money.   How can he do it without breaking the promises he made?  Photograph: Mail Online
George has to save money. How can he do it without breaking the promises he made? Photograph: Mail Online
published on UK Free TV

The 2015 Concervative Manefesto says...

Given these words

"We will: protect pensioner benefits including TV licences. We will maintain all the current pensioner benefits including TV licences for the next Parliament … and will keep [BBC licence fee] frozen, pending Charter renewal. "

It is very hard to see how this means anything other than keeping the current system.     But what else could it mean?


How much would everyone else licence go up to cover 4 million free pensioner homes? 

Let's call the BBC annual income from the fee a round £4bn.   That comes from 26 million homes at £150 each.    £600m comes from the government to give homes with someone over 75 a free license.   If this cost was transferred to everyone else that would mean 22 million homes paying £182 a year, with four million having them for free.  

So, that's basically £30 more for everyone else.


What TV and radio services would need to be cut to keep the £150 fee and free over 75 licences?

We've looked at this kind of thing before for the £200m cost of "descriminzation" -  - TV Licence decriminalization: just how much is it going to cost you?

Here's the 2013 diagram of costs

£600m of savings equals

  • Close BBC TWO and BBC Radio 2; or
  • Reduce the BBC national and regions budget by 85%.  
  • Close all BBC Radio services (Radios 1, 1X, 2, 3, 4, 4 Extra, 5, 6 and local radio)
  • Close C-Beebies, CBBC, BBC 4, BBC 3, BBC-News channel, BBC Local Radio in England AND Radio 3.


So, pay £30 more, ask the goverment to keep it's promises or drops BBC Radio?

Your choice...




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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

12:35 PM


I'm having a few problems with your logic.

Isn't Lord Reith famous for three words "inform, educate and entertain"?

When he left the BBC in 1936 it ran three radio services, the National Programme, the Regional Programme and (outside the UK, the Empire Service). All of these were mixed schedules of entertainment, news and factual. Listeners could switch between stations to choose programmes, but both would carry all forms of radio.

And, of course, the BBC television service was on air from 1936, some two decades before the first of the ITV franchise came on air. So the BBC was showing drama, game shows and the like long before anyone else.

You might also like to know that promotional sequences to invite viewers to watch other programmes are not adverts. An "advert" is when a third party pays the broadcaster to promote goods and services in return for a payment. I must admit you don't get to see adverts or promos if you watch online.

I'm guessing that what you are trying to says it "show only the things that I watch"?

Also, I don't get what "mockery of scheduled programme times" means, but I use the 28 days window the iPlayer (or longer with Freesat+HD) to watch things when I want!





A vision of public service broadcasting associated with the Scotsman John Reith (1889–1971), who became managing director of the BBC in 1923 and declared that it should aim to inform, educate, and entertain (very much in that order). For him, Public Service Broadcasting was based on four principles: firstly, it should be protected from commercial pressures; secondly, it should serve the whole nation, not just urban centres; thirdly, it should be under the control of a single unified body; and fourthly, it should be a monopoly. See also public broadcasting service; quality television; compare commercialization; fiction values.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts US flag
Thursday, 2 July 2015

11:50 PM

Briantist: It would be interesting if someone like GeordieLad could actually define what they mean by 'non commercial', and ' educational and information services'.

I think we can all agree that some TV is very commercial. Someone trying to win a million pounds by wading through a swimming pool full of jelly whilst being wrestled by semi nude women would generally be seen as very commercial (although what Reith did on his weekends is another matter...).

On the other hand, I suspect a baking competition or a programme where people learnt to ballroom dance would normally not excite ITV. Yet both are very popular, and dance programmes have been widely copied by commercial broadcasters.

I'd love for someone who only thinks that the BBC should only put on programmes which the commercial channels do not to put together a schedule. Please tell us what sort of programmes you would have on, and who would watch it (and pay for it).

I suspect that any such schedule would depend on the pet loves/hates or the individual and would exclude anything that was not '".... only the things that I watch".

Its very sad that the BBC has had to make these cuts, and although its not apparently hitting the frontline, those people who are going may have had a good role in bringing programmes to screen. It of course also reinforces the idea that there is plenty of fat at the BBC, and any talk of shortfalls is scaremongering. I suspect relatively few people believe that downloading was really to blame by itself. They huge reduction in real terms of the licence fee, plus the extra burdens imposed on the BBC is the real reason.

I suspect they are blaming downloading because a) It makes a compelling reason to reform the law, which of course the Tory government will be more than happy not to implement - its a drain on BBC resources, so they would like to keep the loophole out of simple cussedness. And of course it gives a reason which does not include 'we blame Jeremy Hunt and George Osborne', which of course is correct. They are to blame, but pointing that out to the government might only make things worse.

The sad thing is that this could have all been avoided, if we had a less ideologically driven government (or series of governments). There is nothing basically wrong with the licence fee or the BBC, and some simple changes is all thats needed, as was laid out in the Guardian yesterday The Guardian view on the licence fee: now is the time to rally round the BBC | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

However, that article is also right in that if you like the BBC, you have to shout far louder than the most of the people commenting on that piece, and certainly louder than the numerous newspaper columnists, media barons and sundry hangers on who attack it. Haters gotta hate, but it doesn't mean they have to get away with it.

I've just finished reading 'The Blunders of Our Governments' by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe (highly recommended). They mention the story of a Tory supporting Englishman who had emigrated to the States being asked by Keith Joseph what he missed most about the UK. Apparently Joseph was taken aback by the reply - ' The BBC and the NHS'. King and Crewe point out that 'Ironically, the fact that people endlessly grumble about it (the NHS) testifies to its success, given the fact that most of the people who grumble would never dream of wanting to see it abolished'.

I suspect that much the same could be said of the BBC. The Englishman in America was the nearest we have to a counter factual - 'What if the BBC or NHS did not exist?' You cannot prove a counter factual, but you can show people what the alternative is by looking elsewhere. Its interesting that people who have lived abroad tend to be far stronger supporters of the BBC than those who have not - they have seen the alternative, and therefore tend to rate the BBC highly. Perhaps we should remind those who complain of this, and why.

BTW - I'm looking forward to reading Charlotte Higgins new book on the BBC - any reviews so far?

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB flag
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