The BBC: Should the licence fee be the method of financing?

Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

On Saturday night I attended Newtownabbey Council’s brilliant Theatre at the Mill to see the comedy Slimmer for Christmas.

It was a really funny show made even funnier by a number of female groups in the audience who shouted out hilarious advice to the leading player as to what she should do with the various men she was dating.



They cheered her when she decided to stop dieting just to please the snobby, self-opinionated boss she was trying to get off with, applauded her when she stuffed her face with Chinese takeaways, crisps and various snacks.

I suspect they were trying to justify their own refusal to diet and probably saw some of their previous boyfriends in the men she blind-dated. It was money well spent, I was still laughing at it the next day.

Going through my post this morning I came across a demand from the BBC for £145.50 for my TV licence. The fact that I own a TV, entitles the BBC to extort money from me under penalty of punishment, regardless of whether or not I decide to watch or listen to their programmes.

Annually the BBC extracts £3.7bn from the public from the licence fee. It is a regressive tax from which there is no escape.

The irony is that the left wing BBC mercilessly criticised the Thatcher government for poll tax, giving air time to every critic of the policy. Yet the licence fee is a poll tax by another name. It is imposed whether an individual accesses the BBC’s services or not, it is levied regardless of the ability to pay and the public have no say in how the money is spent.

If I had a choice I would not purchase a service from the BBC because of its left wing liberal bias, its anti-Christian stance, its obsession with gay rights, and its pro-EU and man-made global warming slant never mind its negative, carping, cynical and often ill-informed reporting of our local news.

However even if I was a frequent user of BBC, I would still question whether the licence fee should be the method of financing it, because being exempt from proper accountability it wastes hundreds of millions of our money and engages in spending practices it criticises others for. It refuses Freedom of Information requests about its spending and claims to be exempt because it is in the cause of “journalism arts or literature.” While its journalists demand transparency from everyone else! Here are only a few examples of how the BBC spends public money:

*BBC has 91 managers who are paid more than the Prime Minister, 11 are paid more than twice his salary;

*BBC spent £162.9m reducing its staff, the average redundancy payoff was £287,000. 400 of the 700 who were so expensively made redundant, have been re-employed as freelancers;

*The organisation which criticises Assembly members for employing a few family members without going to open recruitment, runs an old boys’ network for top jobs which did not go out to advertisement but went to a cabal of Oxford/Cambridge educated group of pals;

*BBC knows how to do jollies in style. At the 2014 Proms £23,000 was spent on hospitality, BBC NI spent £78,000 on drink etc. However this pales into insignificance to the 272 staff who went on the jolly to Brazil to cover the 2014 World Cup, 2½ times what the commercially-minded ITV sent;

*Licence payers are also being stroked to pay BBC pensions. When a £365m deficit in the pension fund was found, BBC staff were not asked to pay a penny extra, it came from the licence fee;

Of course many like BBC programmes and would be prepared to pay for them as they do for Sky, or sit through adverts as they do on other channels. However, what BBC’s financial practices do illustrate is that where money is provided through compulsory payment, it is abused. That’s why the licence fee must go.