Douglas Carswell

12 MAR 2014

The Empire Strikes Back!

The magnificent Andrew Bridgen MP has tabled an amendment to the Deregulation Bill to make non-payment of the BBC license fee a civil, rather than a criminal offence. And quite right, too.

Now the £3.6 billion a year BBC empire has struck back.

In an unintentionally funny "briefing note" sent to naughty MPs minded to back the amendment, the BBC complains that "the BBC cannot turn off services for those who do not pay the licence fee".

Switching off services for those not wanting to buy said services is what normal service providers do - and not just in broadcasting. 

Switching off the service for those that do not pay for it, rather than trying to send them to prison, is called a subscription service.  In the era of digital technology, a subscription-based service, as opposed to a criminal conviction-based service, has to be the way forward.  It is a pretty straight forward proposition.

If you fail to pay a utility bill, you face civil sanctions. Yet fail to pay the BBC its fee, and you face criminal charges. 

The briefing note goes on to say that without the threat of criminal sanctions, the poor BBC might get less money.  Without the threat of criminal sanctions for non-buyers, all kinds of organisations get less money.  Inconvenient, I know, but it is the way things are done, chaps. 

Perhaps the BBC could stop squandering tens of millions of IT disasters instead? 

Or ease up on some of the £300,000 a year plus salaries that they pay their senior management

They might even need to look beyond the well-remunerated clique of talent when commissioning programmes, eh?  (No one has ever been able to explain to me quite how it works, or if anything ever gets put out to tender .....)

"Please don't do this to us" the briefing note seems to plead. "We will set up a working group of grandees to look at it". 

A little late for all that, don't you think? 

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