New Vision: Liberating the BBC from the Licence Fee
28 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2021
Date Written: October 10, 2019
There is a long history of governments restricting competition in broadcasting and changing the definition of public service broadcasting in a way that seems to serve producer interests. The current definition of public service broadcasting used by Ofcom is not coherent. The nature of the broadcast market has changed to such a degree that public service broadcasting should no longer be delivered largely by one institution. Indeed, we should go further: there is no need for specific policy in relation to public service broadcasting. Niche providers are often better than the BBC at ensuring the broadcasting of good quality content to meet minority tastes. The fact that the market for broadcasting is now an international industry means that many artistic, educational and cultural programmes, which might not have been economic in the past, may now be economic and not need subsidy. Changes in technology mean that the current approach to financing, owning, and regulating the BBC is no longer tenable. There is nothing to stop the subscriber-owned mutual from having fully commercial or fully charitable arms for different purposes. This is a common approach for mutual and co-operatives and would also allow the exploitation of the overseas market and a wide array of joint ventures. The BBC should lose its legal privileges and be treated in the same way as all other news and media organisations for competition and other purposes.
Keywords: broadcasting, UK, BBC, television, government regulation, government policy
JEL Classification: L51, L82, M20, M13, F69
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation