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Published on August 28th, 2010 | by Christian Cawley

Doctor Who & the Licence Fee

It’s all go in Edinburgh this weekend as the International Television Festival pushes on, with big talks by BBC Director General Mark Thompson and an appearance by Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat.

Doctor Who - Steven MoffatAll focus – thanks to the Murdoch-backed media and a few pointless cases – is on the BBC licence fee, and whether it should be cut. We’ll hang fire on that for the time being and ask the more pertinent question – what effect would a cut on the licence fee have on Doctor Who?

Steven Moffat knows.

“It sounds like a punishment rather than a saving.

“Are licence fee payers protesting hugely? No. They shouldn’t, we give them lots of rubber green people in Doctor Who.

“Alien invasions are accomplished by at least three of them. Any cut in the licence fee and we’d have solo invasions. That’d be rubbish.”

Of course, he’s generalising here. A cut to the licence fee needn’t necessarily affect television. Given the vast outlets for BBC programming both on TV and online, not to mention radio, should a cut be enforced, with the right management any cutbacks would be applied to services that don’t have the same profile as the BBC’s main channels or programmes. Reducing repeats and channels that are missing a genuine purpose and direction would be a good start.

(Did someone say “BBC Three”?)

(Via Digital Spy)


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

2 Responses to Doctor Who & the Licence Fee

  1. avatar Carn says:

    I’d still like to give all my license money to the Doctor Who shows.

  2. avatar 23skidoo says:

    Considering the ever-evolving nature of television, it’s probably not surprising that a case can be made for getting rid of the BBC license fee. Just as (ironically) there are moves aplenty here in North America to render commercially supported free television broadcasts obsolete in favor of things like pay-per-view and fee-based online services.

    If it happened, I don’t think it would be the end of the world. OK, so should like Doctor Who and Merlin would need to start adding commercial breaks. Welcome to the club. The ITV production houses managed to produce some of the best television ever made – The Avengers, The Prisoner, Danger Man – with commercial breaks. And additional revenue from US network sales that the BBC never enjoyed. It would require an adjustment, to be certain, but if it was a choice between a show like Doctor Who ending and a simply being reformatted, I’m willing to put up with ads for cough syrup if it means the show survives. And in a worst-case/bonehead scenario of the BBC taking a “licence fee or we go out of business” approach, I’m willing to bet there would be a long line of networks – beginning with the “arm’s length” BBC America – who’d jump at the chance to take over production. The show would survive. Hopefully it won’t come to that because despite what I just wrote, the BBC has a uniqueness about it that would be lost were it to become just another commercial network…

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