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All posts by RichardW

Below are all of RichardW's postings, with the most recent are at the bottom of the page.

Cord Cutting UK Checklist: keeping it legal
Tuesday 3 November 2015 12:52AM

Bill Kocher: I agree with the principle that all BBC content, whether it is live or otherwise, costs money to produce and it is fair enough to charge those who consume it BUT, as
MikeP: points out, the TV Licence is not a fee for consuming BBC content, it is a permit to receive any content from any provider, via the methods he describes, but only the BBC and the state benefit from it.
All of the commercial channels are self funding, via subscription and/or advertising. My question is:
Why should I pay for BBC programs if I never watch them?
I am obliged to to pay with cash for the TV Licence AND with my time to watch the adverts on the commercial channels. If I only watch commercial channels I am essentially subsidising BBC viewers with no benefit to my self.

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Kbryt: I am happy to say that I also live in a valley in the SN postcode area, perhaps 10 miles from the Vale of Pewsey, and I have EXACTLY the same reception issues, if not worse. My TV ariel reception is pathetic and I simply can't get satellite reception at all, due to trees in the line of sight.

Fundamentally, my view is that the BBC is superb institution, it provides a considerable number of unique and high quality services, it might well be the finest Public Service Broadcaster in the world. However it is very much that: a Public Service. We don't pay an annual fee for Health or Education, they are Fee at the point of use and I strongly disagree with the current funding model.

The TV Licence requires me to pay for permission to watch ANY television at all, from any source. If the BBC is a Public Service, run for the benefit of a Public good. It is a grotesque state of affairs that I would be committing a criminal offence to access a news channel from another provider if I din't pay for the BBC.

Further, why should I pay to watch BBC if, in fact, I only watch ITV, or any combination of other Broadcasters that doesn't include the BBC?

It seems reasonable that if it is a Public Service, or run for a Public benefit, it should be funded and available as such. Alternatively, it could have a modular subscription with a core, basic package funded by the State and optional, paid extras, opera and classical music, BBC 6, Children's TV, BBC Parliament and the World Service spring to mind. While they are all valuable in their own way, to select and very small audiences, they are not valuable, individually, to the vast majority of Licence Fee payers who are legally required to subsidise them.

Whatever the alternative, under no circumstances what-so-ever should watching the news be a criminal offence.

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MikeB: You portray the BBC Licence Fee as an all you can eat buffet, it is not, it includes and all you can eat buffet but it is a legally required Restaurant pass. Those who would like to eat in any Restaurant are obliged to pay for a meal at the BBC whether want it or or eat it, or not.

If I want fish n chips from a local specialist chippy, indeed anyone who eats anything that's not on BBC menu, I must FIRST pay for the BBC buffet and only then, IF I have enough money left, can I pay for my fish n chips. Everyone is paying twice, once for a BBC meal that they are, by definition, not eating, and once for the meal they are, by way of their time watching adverts or further financial subscription. We pay the BBC no mater what.

The fact that many people do choose to eat at least some of it is hardly surprising as they have all had to pay for or it.

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MikeP: It maybe that you are referring to a currant temporary issue, I'm referring to an ongoing situation over many years, I've lived in these parts for almost 40 years and the service has always been below average. I'd guess that it's due to the fact that Wiltshire has a comparatively low density population and the cost of providing full coverage is comparatively expensive.

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How would you cut
Tuesday 3 November 2015 11:11PM

I think that perhaps this is the wrong question, I'm asking my self 'What does the BBC stand for? What role does it fulfil? Is it a role that is needed and how should it be funded?'

The BBC states that its mission is "To enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain."

and that "The licence fee allows the BBC's UK services to remain free of advertisements and independent of shareholder and political interest."

This has barely changed since its conception almost 100 years ago. There has been a great deal of change since then.

My feeling is that there are vast opportunities for the BBC to remodel its revenue streams. It has a colossal wealth of content dating back the better part of a century. Sell it. In addition to iPlayer, a globally available NetFlix style on-line subscription service would allow Doctor Who fans to watch the original series over and over again. Countless Documentaries, Walking With Dinosaurs, Blue Planet, Pensioners could relive their childhood, binge watch an entire series of Mock The Week, the list is almost endless. And then there's YouTube. YouTube pays content providers for every view that content generates, globally. It is funded by the advertising revenue, so what? Similarly with Radio stations, what's wrong with Spotify model? 'Free' music with adverts or a premium subscription for those that want it. And why limit it to the UK? We generate a tremendous amount of talented musicians, both classical and contemporary, export, promote and generate income from them.

The BBC World Service - I've never heard or seen it, have you? In the context of the BBC's mission statement "To enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain." My question is whose lives? The Licence Fee Payers? I find that very hard to quantify. Is it valuable to Britain's interests? Perhaps, soft power overseas? Perhaps, but should it be paid for as a legal prerequisite to watching Coronation Street? No. It should probably be funded by the Foreign Office.

I also question the emphasis on 'Entertain'. Do we need the BBC to do that? Given the vast array of alternatives now available, is it in our interest to subsidise the BBC to buy 'The Voice' from an external production company? If we didn't do that it seems highly likely to me that ITV would pick it up.

Similarly with sport. Personally I was very happy with ITV's coverage of the Rugby World Cup, if not the actual result.

The fact that the BBC is subsidised in such a massive way must be crippling to existing competitors and prohibitive to market entry for new ones.

The BBC presents the argument that it must be maintained at at least its current size and scope but it does so out of self interest, not Public interest. My view is that a core of English Language News and Weather and Educational/Children's programming that is either not available from competitors or is vulnerable to "shareholder and political interest" should be universally available and funded by the Licence Fee but everything else should be self financing. If that means the rest of the BBC's out-put is only available on-line and though Sky because it's a subscription based service that needs policing I can live with that.

I don't have to buy a newspaper for everyone else before I can buy my own, I don't have to buy a CD or DVD for everyone else before I can can get the one I want, I don't have to pay for everyone in the cinema queue before I buy my own ticket. Why should I pay for everyone else to watch something on TV before I can watch what I want when they can get somewhere else with advertising or a subscription?

Content distribution has been revolutionised by the Internet. 'Live' broadcasting of pre-recorded content is dying fast and, in it's own interests, the BBC needs to get with the times.

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MikeB: Jeremy Benthams philosophy of the greatest good for the greatest number is somewhat flawed. By his rationale, it is more important that justice is seen to be done, rather than necessarily being achieved. Everyone is happier (except the innocent individual who is incarcerated) if they believe that Justice has been done. Would you be prepared to go to prison for a crime you did not commit so that Justice is perceived to have been achieved, by the greatest number?

I am not at all convinced that the greatest good is necessarily achieved by this system. I'm also finding it hard to reconcile your claim to to wish to look at the 'facts' when your argument is riddled with speculation and anecdotal evidence.

I believe that the key fact here is origin of the TV Licence. The ear marked tax was an extremely fair method to fund the BBC when it was the only broadcaster. However it became inappropriate at the time of the launch of ITV when it became a viewing permit fee as well. In a perfect world it would then have stopped being a tax and become a subscription fee because at that time it became clear that the BBC does not have all the answers.

In the same way that I have a choice whether or not to buy a newspaper I can choose to watch television, or not. I then have the choice of which newspaper to buy. I am not required by law to purchase a specific state approved newspaper first and then, if I can still afford it, the subsequent newspaper of my choice.

While I do believe, as you very kindly reminded me, that the BBC does produce some fantastic quality programs, I also believe that, as a Public Service Broadcaster, it's role should be to fill any gaps that are either unfulfilled or inadequately fulfilled by the alternative options. It is not in the Public interest to subsidise the BBC to show sporting events for example, as the recent ITV coverage of Rugby World Cup demonstrated, there are others who are more than capable. Equally, externally produced programs like The Voice have no place on BBC under the current funding model. The BBC would have us believe that it is and should continue to be a universal competitor to Independent Broadcasters, I disagree. That merely serves to inappropriately inflate the BBC and the Licence Fee we pay.

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Chancellor George 18% BBC fee cut to lowest level of BBC TV sin
Wednesday 4 November 2015 4:30PM

MikeP: I live in a village called Brunton, SN8 3SE, at the very northern edge of the region that should be served by Rowridge. As you'll see from the maps, huge areas are indicated as without signals. I would be seriously impressed if you have a solution. Very little reaches here.

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jb38: and MikeP: Thank you both for your effort and suggestions. Freesat probably is an option for me but I'm not overly keen on the prospect forking out £200 odd for a dish and installation, on top of my Licence Fee.

MikeP: You are not far off the mark with your assumption that internet services are not great here. We were very late in the day getting broadband here. Surprisingly, this year we got high speed broadband too. My standard Broadband connection is a little under 6 Mbps so it is enough for streaming and I'm leaning towards cutting my cord all together. I get pretty much all the movies and series I can watch from NetFlix and that constitutes most of my day-to-day entertainment. I use iPlayer a bit too and from time to time I watch a bit of news and sport live so it's not a done deal yet.

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