No Licence Fee, No Doctor Who

Right-wing think tank the Adam Smith Institute have said that the television licence fee should be scrapped – to be replaced by a “voluntary subscription service” that would provide revenue for popular BBC programming such as Doctor Who.

It is yet another in a series of focussed attacks on the BBC from right-wing media and now so-called think tanks. And it is around now that we say: you’ve gone too far.

It is yet another in a series of focussed attacks on the BBC from right-wing media and now so-called think tanks. And it is around now that we say: you’ve gone too far.

Rattling sabres from the ivory tower of News International is one thing; making noises in Whitehall to appease an all-too powerful power junkie with the power of life and death over showbusiness careers is another. Claiming the unique authority of a think tank – a body that is effectely a Quango – is nothing short of a fully fledged attack.

For those of you poisoned by the popular media’s habit of obfuscation, the Adam Smith Institute were policy advisers to the Thatcher government in the 1980s; their contribution to Britain’s industrial decline (as opposed to managed restructuring) is recorded in history.

The licence fee is unpopular – fair enough, as it is compulsory for anyone owning a TV – yet for 32p per day it provides access to 2 terrestrial channels, 4 digital, 5 terrestrial radio stations, a fuirther 4 digital stations, plus it funds the BBC’s remarkable website and iPlayer. But what are the alternatives?

Adam Pettie of The Telegraph, reckons that a subscription model will be damaging for the BBC’s most unique output.

“The good thing about the licence fee is that, because it is collected from everyone, it doesn’t have to be populist,” says Pettie.

“The main danger of the subscription model is that it is under pressure to provide lots of different packages – that could mean the loss of lucrative things like Doctor Who and things on BBC Four, Radio 3 and Radio 4,” he adds.

However there is a valid aspect to Adam Smith Institute’s argument – the licence fee has become outdated in its current form, with more and more TV being consumed online via phones, PCs and tablets.

So – should the licence fee be scrapped? What would be the future for Doctor Who?



Christian Cawley

About

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+.


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