A modest proposal (to abandon public service broadcasting

When some propose a massive change in the way the BBC is structured and run, you have to ask ‘what problem are they trying to solve’? This advocacy piece on Political Betting betrays a profound thoughtlessness behind scrapping the licence fee for a subscription service:

In the beginning, the licence fee was entirely justifiable. It was only the rich who could afford first radio and then television, and even once the ownership of both became widespread, the BBC remained dominant in radio and the senior partner of a duopoly in TV, meaning that the Corporation was still funded by its viewers – because every TV owner was a viewer. The coming of multi-channel TV might have undermined that argument but the licence fee remained a practical necessity while signals were analogue.

That’s no longer the case and the digital TV revolution, apart from opening up choice far further, also makes real the possibility of switching to a subscription service. It’s a move that should be made as soon as possible because it would end the false debate about purpose.

Can you spot the ‘deliberate’ flaw? It’s a proposal to abandon public ownership, and then no doubt the public service model of broadcasting. That’s a big change for such a ‘modest proposal’!

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty