Instead of bringing us together, the modern BBC is driving our country apart
BY JAMES YUCEL
It feels like things have changed. At last, a proper discussion is taking place about the future of the TV Licence. Since the BBC was founded in 1926, Britain, and the world have become a very different place. During its heyday, the BBC brought us together with classic entertainment and serious journalism at a time when it had to all intents and purposes a monopoly on broadcast media. But now, in our digital world, with hundreds of channels and dozens of broadcasters to choose from, the BBC drives us apart – with opinionated reporting, woke ‘comedy’ shows, and celebrities on bloated salaries.
What needs to change? First, it is crucial that we decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee. One in ten court cases involves non-payment of the TV licence fee, with 70% of those prosecuted being women. The policy of sending “Official Warning” letters threatening prosecution to those who cancel their TV licence, followed by Enforcement Officers at their doors also needs to stop. Many people continue to pay the licence fee purely out of fear of accidentally committing a criminal offence.
Secondly, we need reduce the scope of the BBC Charter so that the licence only covers BBC content, allowing people around the country to watch and pay for the television they choose to watch without being forced to fund “progressive” shows, calibrated around the niche – and repeatedly rejected politics – of the metropolitan elite.
Just a few weeks ago, iconic shows like Little Britain and Come Fly With Me were removed from iPlayer – a testament to the BBC’s enforcement of their ‘values’ onto the British people. This wasn’t a solitary incident. Since then, day-in-day-out, we have seen our national broadcaster subjugate itself to the will of a minute subsection of society who enjoy being loudly offended at the slightest opportunity. This agenda-led approach to entertainment and current affairs cannot continue. It is not only loathed by the vast majority of people in this country, but it is deeply damaging to both to the level of debate we see in politics today, and our overall cultural settlement.
If BBC entertainment is bad, then their “News” is even worse. One issue is the overwhelming focus on “gotcha” moments. These require relentless interruptions when a public servant is trying to get their point across, forcing many politicians to switch to social media as a means of communicating with the public. Social media has transformed the way politics operates in the UK and allows MPs to directly address their constituents about local issues without being unnecessarily quizzed on every sentence. In last year’s election campaign, the major parties enjoyed huge and unprecedented reach on social media, showcasing the power of platforms like Twitter and Facebook outside the London bubble.
The debate over the BBC will not be going away. But for now, we must focus our efforts on explaining how unsuitable the current TV Licence is in our modern digital world – and how much better the output is likely to be if the state broadcaster was compelled to produce content that successfully competes in the free market rather than relying on a form of taxation that allows them to focus on niche prejudice programming.
If you’d like to chip into the Defund the BBC campaign, please check out our GoFundMe page here.
James Yucel is the founder of Defund the BBC. Follow him on twitter: @JamesLYucel