If you started paying the TV licence fee in your student days and are now 75, you would – at today’s rates – have paid approximately £7,500 into the BBC’s coffers. After half-a-century of being forced to fund the likes of Gary Lineker’s multi-million pound fees, it seems not unreasonable that your retirement from working should coincide with getting him and all the other overpaid celebrities off your back. That is why the government exempted OAPs from facing jail for non-payment of the BBC’s regressive telly poll tax.
The BBC is lobbying hard for the government to pay the licence fees, claiming it is costing them hundreds of millions. This is not really a “cost”, it a loss of revenue. The BBC collects some £3.5 billion from the telly tax and £1.5 billion from commercial revenue. It greedily wants to get a few hundred million more from the over-75s. Here’s a suggestion, cut back on Lineker and the likes’ bloated pay packets and generate some more revenue from iPlayer worldwide.
If Netflix and Amazon can generate billions worldwide from online streaming, so can the BBC. There is no technological reason the BBC can’t do it. The reason they don’t do it is purely political. If iPlayer was a pay-as-you-go streaming service the rationale for the licence fee, such as it is, would be destroyed.
The BBC funding model is based on coercion, it is out of date. Netflix’s global success shows just how badly the BBC missed the opportunity to be a global streaming media company with the headstart it had with iPlayer. Now they want to make OAPs or younger taxpayers pay for their commercial mistakes…