The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Monday, April 07, 2003

Apropos the previous item, Andrew Sullivan posted this letter from a reader on BBC bias:

Using television receiving equipment to receive or record broadcast television programmes without the correct licence is a criminal offence. You could therefore face prosecution and a hefty fine of up to £1,000 ($1600). You may be asking yourself 'how will they know if I'm using a TV without a licence?' The answer is through a number of different methods. At the heart of our operation is the TV Licensing database. It has details of over 26 million UK addresses. Our officers have access to this computer system and a fleet of detector vans and hand-held detectors to track down and prosecute people who use a television without a licence. To find out how effective our methods are click here. Each year it becomes easier to find and prosecute people breaking the law in this way.

(Note that you do not pay a license to watch BBC; you pay a license to watch any television at all, even if you are interested only in private broadcasts.)

When I was living with my friend Rupert in the late 90's his brother from London came to visit. I remember my horror when he described how vans would prowl the street pointing instruments at peoples' homes to see if they were cheating on their license fees.

Here is what another of Sullivan's British readers had to say on the subject:

"What a hysterical notion. The British public 'own' the BBC. We have no control over what they broadcast. We cannot watch any other channel without having first paid them their state-agreed and legally enforced dues. The fact that the collection of this is at arms-length from the state does not disguise the fact that they only exist (and expand) because every house, flat and student digs that wishes to receive ANY TV broadcast has to pay the BBC a hefty bounty first AT THE BEHEST OF THE STATE. And, to make matters worse, the whole of British broadcasting is hamstrung by “impartiality” rules that prevent the likes of SKY News and other independents from saying what they really should (want to be?) be saying. I very much hope that one of the "casualties" of war will be the BBC.

The BBC (and for that matter, NPR) should be privatized. Separation of media and state is just as important as separation of church and state.



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