I WAS sorry to learn of the death of the liberal, laissez-faire economist Professor Sir Alan Peacock.
A far-seeing man, he produced an eponymous report which recommended that the BBC should be funded not by a compulsory licence fee, but by voluntary subscription. The BBC resisted. The recommendations were never implemented.
Even as far back as 1986, Alan Peacock recognised that the BBC was anachronistic: since its foundation, the world of broadcasting had changed fundamentally, with the advent of multiple radio and television stations.
The Peacock Report (1986) was prescient: the internet has revolutionised mass communications, entertainment and broadcasting.
In an age of increasing choice, the element of compulsion is anathema: if people want to watch TV they must buy a licence, whether or not they want to watch the BBC. It is a form of extortion.
The concept of public service broadcasting is a myth. The BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, for example, was a disgrace. The BBC compulsory licence fee is rather like saying that if you want to read The Yorkshire Post you must first buy the Guardian.