BBC Justifies Telly Poll Tax By Claiming Poor Watch More TV

The BBC claims that the licence fee poll tax is justified because poor people watch more television than better off households. With Director General Tony Hall appearing in front of the DCMS select committee this week, the Beeb’s Director of Policy James Heath blogged that a flat rate licence fee is fair on the poor because they watch so much TV:

“The argument for a uniform fee is that there is a direct link between the level of the service received by everyone, and the level of the charge made on everyone. While the licence fee does constitute a higher proportion of lower households’ expenditure, these households also consume more BBC TV than richer households.  As a proportion of household spending, the licence fee is lower than expenditure on many other household items, including transport services, communications, and fuel. Over the last five years the cost of many household items has gone up significantly in real terms while the cost of the licence fee has declined. The licence free represents a very small percentage of household expenditure – even for the lowest income decile, on average, the licence fee is around 1 percent of household spending.”

Dismissing people on a low incomes as a bunch of idle, square-eyed couch potatoes hardly seems in keeping with the liberal, progressive values of Aunty Beeb. If a right-winger patronised less well-off people by telling them a flat tax was value for money because they spend so much time in front of the telly, the Today programme would be in uproar…


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