An idea floated by the media regulator Ofcom – to help maintain “public service” programming by sharing out the licence fee between BBC and commercial broadcasters – was criticised by both BBC and ITV bosses this week. ITV executive chairman Michael Grade, speaking at a convention organised by the Royal Television Society, said he didn’t want any of the licence fee.
TVScoop has covered many stories centred around how the BBC is struggling with its finances after a smaller-than-expected licence fee settlement, so it will come as no surprise that BBC director general Mark Thompson was also against the idea, saying it would weaken the corporation, which is has no other source of revenue. Channel 4 has yet to comment, but would also be in line to benefit from any change to the distribution of the licence fee, which will be considered by the government in 2012. Click through for your chance to decide what should be done with the licence fee.
The whole question of the sustainability of public-service programming in the commercial sector arose again recently after Michael Grade’s announcement that ITV were planning to reduce the number of regional newsrooms from 17 to nine. This will supposedly save the company between £35m and £40m a year which would be ploughed back into programme making, but the move must be approved by Ofcom.
Mr Grade said the current set-up, which harks back to the time when ITV was made up from many small regional broadcasters, is not sustainable moving forward.
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So what’s your view of the licence fee? It’s an age-old question, but does this method of funding have any place in a 21st century of subscription TV and advertising revenue? Is the BBC a jewel in Britain’s media crown to be protected at all costs? Is it, as they claim, the best value for money (at about 35p per day) of any broadcaster? Or should it be cut loose to sink or swim in the maelstrom of media mediocrity?