Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

On Irony and Not Getting It

The day after the news that last year 214,000 people were caught* for the heinous crime of watching TV without a licence, we see that ITV have announced losses of £105m.

I cannot help but note the irony of one network suffering from the effects of the recession, while another feigns shock that so many are refusing to pay their compulsory subscription.

ITV’s £105m loss, after all, pales into insignificance compared to the £3.2bn loss that the BBC makes every year. That is, the amount that the TV licence fee brings in to the corporation every year and without which, we are constantly told by Auntie, it could simply not exist without. If that isn’t a definition of massive losses plugged by public subsidy then I don’t know what is.

Now I don’t condone tax evasion, even of a tax that I oppose, but even though some might just blame the recession (sorry, BBC: “economic downturn”) the BBC is undoubtedly still facing its own expense-gate/fat cat controversies.

Charles Moore, former editor of the formerly Conservative-leaning Telegraph, is refusing to pay his licence fee until something is done about Jonathan Ross’s £6m salary. Charles is wrong, though. The size of Ross’s pay packet has relatively little to do with it – although I’m not a fan, if that is his market rate then so be it. (Though is the BBC distorting the market? Discuss.)

No, Charles is wrong because of conclusion he has drawn from the question of Ross’s salary paid being for by the compulsory licence fee. Moore’s response is to sack Ross, when the real issue is the means by which his salary is funded. If you get rid of Wossy, then who else? The rude and overrated Humprhys? Fine. Veteran broadcaster Terry Wogan? Err, hang on a tick ….

Moore is, I fear, another “critic of the BBC” that is otherwise quite happy with the licence fee as long as it pays for “quality” “public service” broadcasting … which means the sort of stuff that Charles Moore, Boris Johnson and the like enjoy.

Actually, I probably enjoy it too, but I would like the choice of whether to pay for it, and if that is linked to the right to receive that particular channel then so be it (but not if by refusing to pay, I am prevented from watching any other station).

So, as a TV licence abolitionist, I would prefer not to have Charles Moore as a poster boy for the cause. After all – and here comes that awkward question again – if the rest of the BBC (excluding Ross) is so good, why do they need to force us to pay for it?

* BTW, I don’t know why NI should be on the receiving end of the BBC’s stern finger wagging – surely every “region” has its own “worst city for TV licence dodgers”?

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2 responses to “On Irony and Not Getting It

  1. Dean August 7, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Not for the first time I find myself nodding in agreement with every sentence of what you’ve written.

    I’m hoping Murdoch will kick up a fuss about the state run website being anti-competitive when he begins charging for online editions of the newspaper.

  2. Vir Cantium August 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    That would also be ironic if he took such a challenge all the way … to see the European Union enforcing competition law *against* the BBC.

    I’d laugh.

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