#BBClicensefee

BBC to move to a subscription model?

It seems there is a push to scrap the mandatory BBC license and replace it with a subscription model like many in the private sector.

We last wrote about the BBC back in March 2018 when comparing it to our own ABC. We said,

On a global basis, the BBC generates GBP 4.954bn and employs 21,431 staff. 22.7% of those revenues are spent on salaries. Average salaries have grown 17% since 2007/8. The average income per employee at the BBC is now GBP236,852 (A$428,000) thanks to the generous mandatory licensing fees. Average salaries at the Beeb are now GBP 55,651 ($A100,728).

Since then the BBC notes the following in its annual report for 2018/19.

Revenue has tailed off to £4.89bn with staff numbers swelling to 22,401.

21.4 m pay the full license fee of £150.50, down 203,000 on the previous year.

Vy way of comparison, Netflix in the UK charges £8.99/mth (£107.88) for the standard package to £11.99/mth (£143.88) for the full Ultra HD experience. There are a whole host of other services from Sky, Virgin, Vodafone etc who are bundling mobile phone and home internet with TV.

An interesting tidbit reveals that one can sign up to a ‘monochrome’ BBC service for 1/3rd the current £150.50 subscription fee. 5,000 currently do. 4.6m over 75s pay nothing.

As ever, the BBC pushes supreme confidence in its delivery of media content. 91% of adult Brits consume it in TV, radio or written form according to Ipsos polling.

Sadly, 52% of UK adults think the BBC is effective at providing news and current affairs that is impartial. Half. 10 years ago, it was 57%.

Only 61% of parents think the Beeb is good for assisting children and teenagers with learning. It scored 65% for adults in this category. Both down on the year.

In terms of platform, BBC TV scored more or less flat on the previous year in terms of quality (72% -> 72%) and distinctiveness (68% -> 69%) but fell sharply for BBC Radio (81% -> 75%) & (77% -> 73%) and BBC Online (74% -> 69%) & (70% -> 64%) respectively.

The length of time Brits spend watching BBC TV fell from 8hrs and 16secs to 7:36 per week. People listening to BBC Radio fell from 10:03 to 9:33 per week. Usage of BBC Online by adults increased from 75% to 77% per week.

In a nutshell, people are watching and listening less to the BBC, view it increasingly as biased, question its offering and seemingly don’t want to pay for it.

Living off a never-ending taxpayer teat breeds complacency. A move to a subscription model would soon reveal how ‘in demand’ the ‘high-quality’ content services actually are. If the BBC truly possesses such a huge belief in its abilities to deliver, it should have absolutely no concerns to let the private market pay for its services.

Just like the ABC in Australia, BBC ratings keep falling and audience trust continues to wane. Ita Buttrose must be watching developments in the UK with a keen eye. Time for the ABC to be forced down a similar road of self-funding, driven by “true” market demand for services instead of junk like Q+A, ABC Kids programmes preaching white privilege or indigenous programs that play-act defecating on white people.

Put simply, the world has changed. There is no need to pay $1bn to the ABC and $400m to the SBS for services that almost anyone with a phone and an internet connection can consume from the source. That is right. We can stream German radio to our hotel room on our American business trip should we wish. We don’t need the government to divert tax dollars to provide services that exist at source in abundance. There is almost nothing at the ABC that can’t be consumed at The Guardian or Channel 10.