The only suitable home for the BBC licence fee and its schedule of endless repeats is on the Antiques Roadshow

With the exception of prime time successes like Strictly and Happy Valley, the BBC acronym would better stand for Boring Britain’s Citizens - so packed are the channels with repeats - indeed, the only fit place for most of the broadcaster’s schedule is the Antiques Roadshow

If the BBC's director general Tim Davie has been reported correctly, he believes it is “truly amazing” that the broadcaster is “pulling off” forcing households to pay the £159 annual licence fee.

This utterly arrogant and sickening assertion could not be further from the truth. With the exception of some notable prime time successes like Strictly and Happy Valley, the BBC acronym would better stand for Boring Britain's Citizens - so packed are the channels with repeats.

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Indeed, the only fit place for most of the broadcaster's schedule is on the Antiques Roadshow - where no doubt an expert would pronounce it a piece of worthless ephemera that has long outlived any useful purpose.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Davie told a staff meeting this week that it was “glorious” that the BBC had “better budgets than some of the commercial operators” and did not “need to make a profit on everything”.

"It’s truly amazing what we’re pulling off by the way," he reportedly said. "That most households are pretty happy paying a licence being a forced payment. It’s amazing what we’re pulling off."

If he believes this to be true he is utterly deluded. The BBC once had a titanic reputation for quality television and radio broadcasting on everything from culture and the arts to natural history, from great sitcoms like Porridge and Yes Prime Minister to wonderful period dramas.

Much of this is long gone.

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Now it is consumed with purging itself of much loved older radio presenters, spreading itself too thinly and waging an anti-competitive battle with quality local newspapers and their websites.

Indeed, so obsessed is it with ruining traditional publishers such as ours that it will end up destroying the diverse quality, local journalism that remains the last trusted source of news for so many people.

The BBC's plans will see a redeployment of resources from much loved BBC radio to daily online news for 43 local areas, with the creation of 11 investigative reporting teams across the country and around 131 additional roles across local news services, with local stories made easier to find. The BBC will also launch new dedicated local online services for Bradford, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Peterborough.

All that this will achieve is terminating more overall local journalist roles than it creates, further exterminating with Dalek-like precision more cherished local newspapers, and making it even harder for the BBC to focus on its priorities - producing more quality, original content for its TV and national radio channels. Its abject failure in all these respects will turn off even more licence fee payers.

According to TV Licensing’s annual report last year, 1.96 million households said they did not watch the BBC in 2021-22According to TV Licensing’s annual report last year, 1.96 million households said they did not watch the BBC in 2021-22
According to TV Licensing’s annual report last year, 1.96 million households said they did not watch the BBC in 2021-22
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According to TV Licensing’s annual report last year, 1.96 million households said they did not watch the BBC or other live television in 2021-22 and the corporation believes even more will desert them this year. In a survey by National World a couple of years' ago, 95% of respondents said the licence fee should not remain compulsory.

In an age of multi-channels and multi-choice - everything from Sky, Netflix and Disney Plus - it is essential that the BBC stands on its own two feet, frees itself from the rapidly unravelling comfort blanket of the licence fee, and leverages its once powerful global reputation to become the best TV and Radio streaming service around the globe.

To make that happen, Parliament needs to act now - and not wait until Charter renewal in 2027 - and pass primary legislation to end the licence fee and free the Beeb from its crumbling foundations.

Otherwise, in the end the only programme it will be left with is the Antiques Roadshow and it will be the prime exhibit.

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