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The death of the TV licence fee

THE times they are a changing – and fast. Up to 1,000 households a day are stopping paying their BBC TV licence fee, claiming they no longer have a TV or only watch catch-up services. Half a million homes have declared they no longer have a television in the past 15 months.

The number of people choosing to watch programmes other than via TV is expected to soar in the next few years, with viewers opting for catch up services like BBC iPlayer and ITV Player using laptops, tablets and ‘phones which are often exempt from the £145.50-a-year fee.
The BBC has called for this loophole – which has already cost millions in lost revenue – to be closed and the incoming Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, has previously said he supports this. However, he has also been quoted as saying he thinks the compulsory annual charge is ‘unsustainable’ in the long term.
The licence fee cannot continue unchanged in our digital age. Based on the demise of the goggle box, the system has to be modernised. With young people watching half the amount of live TV a day as adults and twice as many online video clips according to OFCOM, a household levy, as opposed to a television levy. might be the best plan to save good old ‘Auntie’.
With the BBC Charter coming up for renewal at the end of 2016, John Whittingdale needs to act and act now, if he is the save one of the best broadcasting organisations in the world and spare us humble viewers the fate of ‘57 channels and nothing on’. The last thing we need is more dumbing down.
TALKING of dumbing down, during the run up to the election the most frequently asked question on Google was ‘What does austerity mean?’ You will come to know soon enough my friends. It means tough cutbacks.
On Channel 4’s Gogglebox, gay friends Chris Steed and Stephen Webb have never pretended to be the show’s intellectuals, but, astonishingly, both said they hadn’t a clue what “austerity” meant.
If that wasn’t enough, a 21-year-old young mother’s comments on Facebook have become an internet sensation. Devon Boon asked nearly 2,000 of her Facebook friends “Who is David Cameron?” She also said she didn’t see the point of Tony Blair or Osama Bin Laden before saying she thought President Obama was a terrorist.
Miss Boon, of Stoke-on-Trent, posted about Tony Blair and Osama Bin Laden saying ‘them are the only prime ministers I no lol’ (sic).
She said: “The last I heard Tony Blair was the Prime Minister. But I don’t think it’s my fault. I don’t watch the news and we didn’t get taught about politics in school so how are we meant to know about these things?’
In stark contrast, 11-year-old Halle Carnall from Accrington has written a poignant letter of advice to David Cameron (she knows who he is).
In her completely unprompted letter she urges the Prime Minister to help those at the bottom of the ladder. The one page note has gone viral and has been shared almost 40,000 times on Facebook, even as far away as China.
She says: “Whether rich or poor, we are all the same, we have the right to a good standard of education, healthcare and job opportunities. It scares me to imagine what this country will be like when I am older. Please consider me and millions of children just like me who deserve the best chance in life”. Keep it up Halle!
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Kevan Blackadder

Written by Kevan Blackadder

Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.

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