The Huffington Post reports that the upcoming budget will see the BBC acquire responsibility for the every growing number of free TV licenses in exchange for inflation linked increase in the TV license and the extension of the license onto on demand services, iPlayer services. The current settlement has always been problematic and while the extension to the license fee to on-demand services makes sense it only does so with a refocusing of the materials it covers. Yes its crazy that you can watch Dr. Who an hour later without needing a TV license on iPlayer. Its also crazy that you need a TV license to watch Eurosport Player delivered over IP.
I personally don’t have a TV License but have used iPlayer to watch Doctor Who and TopGear on catch-up. Currently I almost exclusively watch Youtube, TWIT and Netflix so will the new style TV license also be required to view these services, even though they are produced, hosted and managed overseas?
I do actually believe that the BBC and the license fee offers exceptional value for money for many people its just that I prefer to consume content focused around my personal interests rather than share a viewing experience with the majority.
Additionally while the move of BBC 3 to an online service was clearly planned with the license fee parameter change in mind, how does the BBC plan to retain relevance if it increasingly moves content that consumers are paying for away from its terrestrial broadcast base? You could imagine a situation of BBC 1 and 2 catering almost exclusively to the free TV license holders very soon.
So if I was to revisit TV licensing these are the questions I think need to be resolved,
- BBC funding
- Parliamentary Engagement
- Broadcast Fibre / Internet Provision
- Content Creation
I think the solution to these challenges is the actually the opposite path to the once currently be followed.
Firstly abandoned the TV broadcast licensee before it at best becomes irrelevant or at worst a means by which other online content providers are suppressed.
Secondly switching funding to core BBC services such as news, education, parliamentary activity and world service to general taxation.
Finally seek to monetise the extensive back catalogue through subscription based services, imagine iPlayer with every Top Of The Pops 2 for on demand streaming under a subscription service.