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UK ISPs Could Face Government Broadband TV Tax 136

Posted by kdawson
from the nose-of-the-camel dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Industry regulator Ofcom, which yesterday launched the first phase of its review into public service broadcasting, is threatening to impose a tax on UK broadband ISPs to help resolve funding problems. The review covers all public service broadcasters, both publicly owned and commercial. Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said: 'Public service broadcasting is at a crossroads. Viewers still want a mix of high quality UK-made content, but the traditional television model is not enough to meet all their needs. Today's proposals outline options for a securely-funded PSB future. Now is the time for a wide-ranging debate looking carefully and dispassionately at all the options.'"
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UK ISPs Could Face Government Broadband TV Tax

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  • everyone pays (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @12:50PM (#23047448) Journal
    yeah, it doesn't matter whether you're actually making use of any of that content, you pay anyway.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by k33l0r (808028)

      As you do for many other things. Hospitals, ambulances, crime investigation, roads, schools, universities, the police, the military etc.


    • Re:everyone pays (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K (805623) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:39PM (#23048880)
      I have two responses to that:

      1. Nearly everyone I know who doesn't pay for cable TV downloads all their favorite TV shows, so they are making use of the content, just not through conventional channels.

      2. The BBC and other public broadcasting services must be sustained. I've lived in the US for over four years now and I cannot even begin to express how terrible TV here is in comparison to programs by the BBC. There are a few exceptions, of course, but I would gladly give up my entire cable package consisting of nearly one hundred channels, just to get the handful of BBC channels available in the UK. Having lived in the UK most of my life I too used to criticize the TV tax but this was certainly a case of not knowing what you've got 'till it's gone.

      Even if you from part of a minority who truly does not "make use of any of that content" you do indirectly benefit from living in a society where for-profit networks can't completely dumb-down television programming to the point that turning on the box literally causes your brain to rot, and where watching an hour of television also implies watching twenty minutes of commercials.

      Public broadcasting benefits society, and taxes are designed to benefit society even though specific taxes may not benefit every individual. So long as the taxes are reasonable and produce real results I would be in favor of them.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by LucBorg (853592)

        That's rubbish. The BBC is full of useless biased crap if the programme is in any way political or scientific (see the whole climate change propaganda article fiasco for example). If it's a comedy then the funniest line that any person says is "F***" and that is where everyone is supposed to laugh.

        A large number of people in the UK have access to satellite and cable TV now and the most popular programmes on any TV channel are invariably American imports - Lost, 24, Prison Break, Heroes, The Simpsons etc.

        • Re:everyone pays (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DigitAl56K (805623) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @05:59PM (#23049464)
          I challenge you to compare the BBC as a news network to any of the popular American TV news channels for level of political bias and fear or coercion that causes them to collectively avoid reporting significant news stories unfavorable to the Bush administration, or world events that may sit as unpopular with the American viewers and thus impact their advertisers.

          Whether "popular" programs are imported or not is irrelevant. It makes sense for the BBC to supplement its own productions with the best productions from other bodies. It is the quality of the programming overall that is significant in the case of the BBC, and I have seen very little to rival it. Just as the shows you mentioned may be the most popular in the UK, they are also some of the most popular in the US. But take that list of shows, divide it among well over 100 channels broadcasting 24 hours a day, and perhaps you can start to see a picture of how sparse high quality programming is here.

          I can't speak to the salaries of the BBC, nor do I claim that I'm familiar with their internal operations or that they are appropriate. I will say, however, that you might want to compare the typical interview with Jeremy Paxman to any number of interviews from the likes of Bill O'Reilly, and see how that turns out. I believe you'll find plenty of samples on YouTube.

          Yes, America also has loads of reality shows, but the point is that they are funded by advertisement and if you don't want to watch it you don't have to still pay for it.
          Where I live basic cable costs me $50/month, and it's 100 channels which are mostly garbage, or nothing. I can pick up exactly two channels over the air with a lot of fuzz.

          What a joke. It's because of deluded fools like DigitalAI that the rest of us have to suffer this extortion.
          Maybe they should simply create a PBS tax instead of charging for a TV license. I think this is a better representation. I actually agree with you that you should not have to pay a fee just because you own a television, but I also believe that the BBC should remain publicly funded for the good of British society.
        • Re:everyone pays (Score:4, Informative)

          by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Saturday April 12, 2008 @06:18PM (#23049598) Homepage
          The most popular TV programmes in the UK by a long, long way are *not* things like the simpsons.

          Most popular programmes on british TV are a bunfight between Eastenders and Coronation street, between them taking up most of the top 10 viewing slots at around 10 million per showing. Add in Emmerdale and Casualty and that pretty much takes up the top 20, with the BBC News slipping in there at the bottom (yes, paxman earns his keep).

          Sky are nowhere. The colour of magic was by far their most popular programme at only 1.2 million viewers (that's a british programme BTW), pulling in double the second place programme Stargate ark of truth which managed only half a million. Even the rerun of 'Ben Hur' on five got more than that.

          Scan through the BARB figures and you'll find the vast majority of popular TV in britain is british. The rest is made up of Australian and US stuff... but none of the things you mention are in the list.
        • by mpe (36238)
          A large number of people in the UK have access to satellite and cable TV now and the most popular programmes on any TV channel are invariably American imports - Lost, 24, Prison Break, Heroes, The Simpsons etc. etc. In fact it was the BBC that showed 24 first and then sky took it to get more subscribers because it was that popular. Lost was first on Channel 4, now its on Sky too. Prison Break was on Channel 5 first, then sky took that too. The Simpsons were a staple of BBC 2 (after first being shown on Sky)
      • by rossz (67331)

        The BBC and other public broadcasting services must be sustained

        Why? The BBC is not a neutral entity. They are extremely one-sided politically. This is not a problem when it is commercial t.v. When you are forced to pay for it, however, this is completely wrong. I say convert the BBC and other public stations to a commercial status, drop the t.v. tax, and let them compete with each other as they should.

        Most American commercial t.v. sucks. So what? Turn it off or switch to a cable station. If your ca

        • Re:everyone pays (Score:4, Interesting)

          by DigitAl56K (805623) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @05:38PM (#23049316)
          The BBC may have political bias, but until you have lived in the US and witness the likes of Fox news you really have no idea how good you have it. Their individual party biases aside, the media here, across half-a-dozen "news" networks, appears to be fully coerced in their coverage (or lack there-of) of major political and world events.

          You get to choose with your remote and your wallet
          That may be true, but it is the wrong way to understand the effect of public broadcast. Where there is competent and broadly targeted public broadcasting a bar is set for the quality of programming of for-profit networks. Without the BBC, for example, I think you would see a very different and quickly degrading television landscape. In fact I know you would, because that's exactly what I see here where there is public broadcast, but unless you're into jazz music, movies from the seventies, or watching senators debating on CSPAN, you would never watch it anyway, and so it doesn't really have much influence on the other networks.
          • by rossz (67331)
            Fox news leans to the right, CNN (and all the other major networks) leans to the left. At least there's a choice. I don't watch either of them.

            And you are mistaken to think I live in the U.K. I've traveled extensively in Europe and have been to the UK (London, what a shit-hole!). Here in the states, every now and then I turn on "BBC America". If they only show their best shows on this station, then UK t.v. is worse than I originally remember.
            • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
              CNN leans to the left? Which version have you been watching!

              CNN like all US news channels is extremely right wing.. not quite as bad as the average US slashdotter, but the agenda is clear.
              • Where you think a station falls in it's bias is more indicative of where you are than where they are. But, they leaned quite a ways to the left the last I checked. Which admittedly was an episode of Bill Clinton chop-pointing at an old woman while telling Monica Lewinsky* that he did not have improper sexual relations with said old lady.

                *a story which, you might recall, was broken not by the major news networks, but by a blogger commenting on a story the major networks were sitting on.

                You probably think F
            • by QuoteMstr (55051)
              A bias to the "left", relative to standard fare in American politics, is a bias toward reality and rationality.
        • Re:everyone pays (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @08:02PM (#23050182) Homepage Journal

          They are extremely one-sided politically.
          I think that is grossly oversimplified.

          If anything I think the BBC (and the Australian ABC) are generally over-critical of whatever government currently in power.

          However I do not see that as a bad thing. In a sense this is a way of them demonstrating their independence. It is far more dangerous for a national broadcaster to be too soft on those in power than too hard.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by isorox (205688)

          Why? The BBC is not a neutral entity. They are extremely one-sided politically.

          I have noticed their coverage of the Olympica Torch is more Pro-China.

          This is not a problem when it is commercial t.v. When you are forced to pay for it,

          Who pays for ITV? Tesco, Morissons, Asda, Sainsburys, etc. etc. It's pretty hard to avoid paying for ITV. Or Sky.

          however, this is completely wrong. I say convert the BBC and other public stations to a commercial status, drop the t.v. tax, and let them compete with each other as they should.

          You can choose not to have a TV.

          most shows on the BBC suck, too. Just as with commercial t.v., there's the occasional gem (Dr. Who).

          But while you, I, and most of Slashdot love Dr Who, there's 50 million people the UK that don't. The BBC has to cater for all of them.

          • by rossz (67331)
            Interesting that the BBC is pro-Chinese in the torch coverage. From what I hear (second hand), our local news is covering the protests, but I have no idea if there's any bias since I haven't looked for myself.

            I lost my cable connection last week (glitch?) and can't be bothered to have it fixed because the only shows I care to watch are recorded (dvr) by a friend so we can watch whenever we want, not when the networks choose. At the moment the shows I am interested in are: Dr. Who, Torchwood, Battlestar G
          • by LingNoi (1066278)

            You can choose not to have a TV.
            I did. Now they keep sending me horrible letters, like they're going to visit me and prosecute me, etc.

            Now because that has not worked the worms are trying an internet tax.
        • by jregel (39009)
          The BBC is often criticized for being biased. The thing is, the government often complain that it's anti-government, while the opposition complain that it's too liberal and left wing. In reality, I think the BBC does a pretty decent job of being impartial. There will be some bias as it's got human factors involved, but compared with many other media outlets, it's in a different league.
      • I defected to the US eleven years ago, from the UK, so never saw many of the later channels, but I don't bother watching much TV in the States any more. The quality of BBC programming, in my opinion, is (by and large) superior to any US broadcaster. Not just television, either - I'd take BBC's radio services over Clear Channel's any day.

        My one gripe is that broadband is not truly comparable to broadcasting unless the ISPs enable multicasting to the home. Point-to-point streaming is so harsh on bandwidth t

      • by malsdavis (542216)
        I downloaded the BBC comedy "Ideal" the other night, don't think I've ever seen anything so damn funny! Good to watch a comedy without that irritating canned laughter that seems to have affected every last American sitcom these days.
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        turning on the box literally causes your brain to rot

        I've never heard of brainrot caused by the quality of the information you consume. In fact I've never heard of brains just starting to rot in healthy individuals (and I don't think any of the brain diseases I've heard about qualify as rot).

        (AKA don't use "literally" when you mean "figuratively" or just an expletive for emphasis)
  • Ofcom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RalphSleigh (899929) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @12:52PM (#23047462) Homepage
    So ISPs have to help fund the regulator that regulates them. Kinda makes sense I guess.
    • by whopub (1100981)
      Sounds more like a fucking problem than a funding problem...
  • TV executives claim they don't have enough money so the government simply tax another section of the economy to give more to them?

     
    • Re:Right... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pavon (30274) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @01:23PM (#23047678)
      Yeah, this is stupid. At least with the TV License, people only had to pay if they owned a tuner, whose main purpose was to watch the broadcast content, the vast majority of which was BBC produced. There were exceptions like folks that had a TV with tuner but only used it as a DVD monitor, but it at least attempted to be targeted at people using the service. This is just ridiculous - there are so many applications of broadband that BBC content is a tiny minority. If they are concerned about their revenue stream drying up as media moves online, they should just limit their online content to folks that paid the TV license rather than allowing all UK IP addresses like they do now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by radio4fan (304271)
      Fear not. It'll never happen.

      One of the largest ISPs in Britain is Sky, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

      Murdoch is pretty much the most powerful man in Britain. The government daren't piss off Murdoch.

      And Murdoch's News International pays virtually no tax in the UK, and I doubt he's about to start.

      Ofcom can say what they like, but HMG aren't going to be setting aside time to pass legislation which will hit Murdoch in the pocket.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        lol. Sky are not one of the largest ISPs.. they're relatively small in fact.

        BT are by far the dominant player having (last time I checked) around 60% of the broadband accounts in the country.
  • Totally ridiculous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <giles@jones.zen@co@uk> on Saturday April 12, 2008 @12:56PM (#23047492)
    Broadband is too cheap, it's obvious that when you reduce ADSL to a low price comparable to dialup that the price becomes unsustainable if people are using lots of bandwidth.

    BBC iPlayer uses bandwidth that customers pay for, they have a set limit which they are allowed and if they exceed it then they have to pay for more bandwidth.

    So why should a tax be imposed on all customers? Ofcom is stupid and a waste of time, they're ruining the UK TV market by allowing more frequent adverts and now this.
    • by Jimmy_B (129296)

      Broadband is too cheap, it's obvious that when you reduce ADSL to a low price comparable to dialup that the price becomes unsustainable if people are using lots of bandwidth.

      This isn't obvious at all. Network equipment keeps getting faster and cheaper, and the only thing an ISP needs to provide more bandwidth is more and faster routers. ISPs like to pretend that your using ten times as much bandwidth costs them ten times as much, but it doesn't; it just means they have to upgrade a little sooner.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jmpeax (936370)
        Both you and the GP are correct - the point being that once a customer has paid for their bandwidth, there should be no question of extra remuneration for the ISPs unless individuals start exceeding the bandwidth usage they've paid for.

        I suppose the case the ISPs (particularly the budget ones) are making is that services like the iPlayer are causing a large proportion of their consumers to exceed their bandwidth limits. Now, it would be impractical, the ISPs argue, to go after the individual customers (man
        • by KDR_11k (778916)
          It's more a case of overpromising, the ISPs looked at their bandwidth, estimated an average load for the users and thus calculated how many users they could support on an average load (or how high they could set the peak speed for x users). The average load was calculated for normal browsing and maybe some gaming activity but now more and more applications can use the peak bandwidth at all times so the average is rising and the ISPs are screwed since they already promised everyone the peak bandwidths and ma
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      So why should a tax be imposed on all customers? Ofcom is stupid and a waste of time, they're ruining the UK TV market by allowing more frequent adverts and now this.
      I agree,
      Failed business shoulden't be allowed to use tax to survive they should die out like any normal business.

      ~Dan
    • by ghyd (981064)
      "Broadband is too cheap, it's obvious that when you reduce ADSL to a low price comparable to dialup that the price becomes unsustainable if people are using lots of bandwidth."

      - I know of a company which makes a lot of money, its called Iliad Free-telecom
      - the client pays 30â euros a month
      - gets uncapped connection up to around 20mbps (only limit is how far you are from the dslam,) free phone to 70 countries
      - dozen of gigabytes personally used a month up and down (musician here, exchanging large files,
  • Taxes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by evanbd (210358) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @12:57PM (#23047494)

    Why is this a tax on Internet access, rather than being drawn from the general fund? Net access is something that is good for people to have, so putting a tax on it is a bad thing, especially since it's a regressive tax (people with lower income will spend proportionally more of their income on net access, so proportionally more of their income goes to the tax).

    Taxes on specific things, rather than broad taxes that go to the general fund, should be for one of two reasons. Either the tax should be intended to discourage something (whether that's an ethical reason I'll leave to others, but if society making such judgements is reasonable then the tax is reasonable), or the tax should be intended to internalize an internal cost. So taxes on carbon emissions and other polluting activities make sense (though imho tradable permits are better), because there is a normally external cost paid by society that should be shifted to the ones creating the problem. Internet access is neither of those things -- and public content is most certainly not an external cost.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      They want to put a tax, because with iPlayer, you could not have a TV, and not pay the TV tax, and still watch almost everything on the BBC. Which is what the TV tax goes towards. I think a much better solution would be, either, pay the TV tax, or if you don't already pay the TV tax, and you want to use iPlayer, then you should have to pay the TV tax. No need to charge everyone with an internet connection. Just charge everyone who wants to use iPlayer.
      • The TV licencing site says: "You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. If you use a digital box with a hi-fi system or another device that can only be used to produce sounds and can't display TV programmes, and you don't install or use any other TV receiving equipment, you don't need a TV Licence." So if you do have a computer you st
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jmpeax (936370)
          That doesn't apply to PCs used to watch iPlayer. You have to be using the PC to watch television in real time ("to watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV"), for example using a TV card in your PC, to qualify for the tax.

          In fact I think the whole iPlayer is just an excuse to make sure the BBC is on the net so there is no getting around paying for a licence.

          This is obviously not the case, hence why this issue of broadband tax is coming up. I'm a bit confused as to how you could think this anyway - don't you think having the BBC's content online is a good thing?

      • by evanbd (210358)

        The TV tax is also a silly silly idea, if you assume TV ownership is a good thing (whether that's the case is a different question). And since nearly everyone pays it anyway, it ends up being equivalent to a regressive general tax -- which means it would be better all around to simply take the money from the general fund and increase the general tax rate accordingly.

        • by damburger (981828)
          Agreed. The Beeb, whilst not always repeating government propaganda, is nevertheless a mouthpiece of the status quo, and should be paid for more by those who benefit from that situation. All of these issues of enforcement vanish if you simply add it on to the income tax.
        • by KDR_11k (778916)
          I think the logic for a separate TV tax was to make the BBC independent of the govt's budget planning so the govt cannot threaten to slash the BBC's funding for dissenting oppinions.
      • Problems (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        1) Linux stuff available for ALL programs funded by the BBC in part? If not, then no, not paying.
        2) Dialup? P2PThrottled? AUP? Congested network? Well you're not getting this stuff then, are you.
  • Now is the time... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rizole (666389) <rizole@@@gmail...com> on Saturday April 12, 2008 @01:15PM (#23047620) Homepage

    ...for...looking carefully and dispassionately at all the options.
    I'm not sure /. is quite the forum for achieving that particular aim.
  • Pre-emptive strike (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Given that UK ISPs have been claiming that the BBC should pay for the ISPs' users accessing BBC media online, does anyone else think this is just a ploy to get the ISPs on the back foot? Maybe the BBC hopes that the ISPs would be willing to settle for some kind of arrangement along the lines of "ISPs don't get taxed to fund the BBC so long as they don't throttle BBC services for their users".

    I really don't know where I stand on this. On one hand, the ISPs have been massively overselling their capacity, and
  • I think you mean (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gogodidi (885953)
    UK ISP customers could face government broadband TV tax
    • by mikael (484)
      And ISP customers may just react by cancelling their premmium rate services. A good 44,000 people cancelled their cable TV service after Virgin Media (Richard Branson) got into spat with Sky (Rupert Murdoch) over the distribution rights of Sky One and Sky News. Virgin Media are now in the situation where they are now increasing telephone and service charges on a monthly basis.
  • Everyone meet in Boston and DoS UK servers. It's the only way to tell the motherland that we will not put up with outrageous taxes.
  • I believe the question should first be what defines a broadcast. Regular internet activity is not what I believe is broadcast as shows seen through such as Youtube are not synchronized and downloaded independently on a user basis. The next question is when, lets say, BBC actually offers a Internet broadcast where you indeed simply join the stream at any point, not seeing what was delivered prior to that point. It is broadcast, but who is the Broadcaster? Is it correct to tax the ISP for this? In this case,
  • I think it is time people started standing up and asserting their own needs/wants/desires in government instead of letting governments treat us all like cattle.

    As long as people are content to sit on the sidelines and bleat like sheep, they will be slaughtered and sheared like sheep.

    Like the meme of dropping a frog in hot water and it jumps right back out, but put a frog in cold water and gradually heat it up and the frog just puts up with it until it dies. People in the USA and Britain both are sitti
    • by turgid (580780)

      They're too busy watching TV to care.

    • by chunk08 (1229574)
      Amen to that. Or just take care of them without government. Government should exist to protect the country and fight crime. Not provide social services or television.
  • This is going to be a replacement for the TV licence. This isn't going to be an additional tax and won't penalise people for having broadband. A Broadband fee (for the general public) rather than TV licence has been considered for a while now.

    It also doesn't specifically say anywhere that ISPs are being singled out, it's pure speculation and fear mongering there. ISPs could even benefit, getting licence fee to ensure that they deliver online TV. It wouldn't make a huge amount of sense to financially pena
    • What about people who didn't have a TV license? This will be a new tax for them.

      When I decided that I didn't want to pay extra for cable, I canceled the service. That doesn't mean that the cable companies get to apply a fee on my Netflix subscription.
      • by abigsmurf (919188)
        There are very few people who are legally without a TV licence. receiving any form of TV signal (satelite, cable etc.) means you have to pay it as does viewing BBC Video clips (either through iPlayer, bbc.co.uk or youtube).
        • by digitig (1056110) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:15PM (#23048740)

          There are very few people who are legally without a TV licence. receiving any form of TV signal (satelite, cable etc.) means you have to pay it
          Correct.

          as does viewing BBC Video clips (either through iPlayer, bbc.co.uk or youtube).
          Wrong. As has been discussed in another thread, a TV card needs a license, but iPlayer, bbc.co.uk and youtube (at the moment) don't because the program is not viewed as it is broadcast.
        • by MttJocy (873799) *
          You are clearly uneducated on the law, viewing video clips does NOT require a TV license any more than using your computer without a TV card to watch your brand new DVD boxed set of Dr. Who does. You need a TV licence to use a TV, DVD player, Video Recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to decode and receive live TV signals.

          Note, video clips are not a live TV signal (defined due to prescient clarifications as being a live TV BROADCAST) note video clips are NOT a broadcast, they are by definition unicast, you
  • The UK taxes people per TV, supposedly to direct those taxes into the government production (BBC) and oversight (regulation) of TV broadcasts. The idea was supposedly that people who didn't have a TV wouldn't have to pay to support the government's work producing and overseeing TV.

    But the benefit of that government work doesn't come only through the TV. TV is now, generations after introducing the tax, as integrated a societal activity, whether government produced or not, as any other largescale activity. I
    • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @02:03PM (#23047930)
      "The UK taxes people per TV,"

      This is totally wrong.

      The TV Receiving License is per {House,Flat,Shop,School,etc}

      You can have as many TV's as you like in your house and only pay 1 License fee.
      HMO's are treated as separate residences. ( HMO = House for Multiple Occupancy )

      I have 3 TV's in my House and pay 1 TV License.
      • OK, the tax is per premises. Does that make one iota of difference to the point I made?
    • The UK taxes people per TV, supposedly to direct those taxes into the government production (BBC) and oversight (regulation) of TV broadcasts

      There is no "supposedly" about it. Yes, the license fee is a charge imposed by the state, so its technically justifiable to call it a "tax". However, it is completely distinct from "general taxation" - like the "road tax" or tax on cigarettes which go into the general coffers with no obligation for the government to use the money for transport or healthcare. The license fee is collected independently and is actually used to fund the BBC [bbc.co.uk].

      Likewise - yes, the BBC is a state institution. However, in the B

      • I don't see how you disagree with anything that I said. I didn't say it's not funding the BBC.
      • Let me see if I have it straight. The BBC is an organization that you have to pay to support, but you have no way to influence what it does or how it provides its service? If you don't like its programming, you can choose not to watch, but this only effects its finances if you get rid of your TV's completely. If you don't like its programming you can petition your MP, but your MP has essentially no power over the BBC. So, you trust the bureaucrats who run the BBC more than you trust people who are responsib
        • by itsdapead (734413)

          Let me see if I have it straight. The BBC is an organization that you have to pay to support, but you have no way to influence what it does or how it provides its service?

          Let me see if I have this straight: so every US citizen gets to vote at NBC/FOX/ABC board meetings? Nope, didn't think so. Everyone in the UK with a Sky box gets a say in how Murdochcorp is run? They don't ?!

          But, hey - in the free market I can vote with my cash: let's see, which broadcaster is going to offer me the best deal for watching the latest episode of "Battlestar Galactica" or "Lost" tonight... Oh dear, it looks as if my only "choice" is to subscribe to a Murdochvision package or not watch the s

          • by mpe (36238)
            But, hey - in the free market I can vote with my cash: let's see, which broadcaster is going to offer me the best deal for watching the latest episode of "Battlestar Galactica" or "Lost" tonight... Oh dear, it looks as if my only "choice" is to subscribe to a Murdochvision package or not watch the shows.

            Or the best deal might be to get it as a torrent of bits within a few hours of it having been broadcast anywhere on the planet.
            • Or the best deal might be to get it as a torrent of bits within a few hours of it having been broadcast anywhere on the planet.

              In response to which, does the commercially-accountable-to-me-its-customer broadcaster change its policies?

              Hell no, the commercially-accountable-to-me-its-customer broadcaster calls up his buddy in the democratically-accountable-to-me-its-electorate and persuades them to pass draconian new laws against file sharing. Somehow, they neglect to ask my opinion in the process.

              Now, the BBC used Windows-only DRM in its TV downloads service. It immediately faced mounting pressure to change this policy, including

  • Yeah right... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by radio4fan (304271)
    Ofcom has no power to set taxes.

    They are unelected, so have no need to please voters.

    Their aims and views are at odds with government: empire-building vs not-getting-voted-out.

    If HM Gubmint puts a levy on internet access on the say-so of Ofcom, I'm a banana.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      They *are* tasked with examining the options regarding funding from time to time though.

      The BBC Charter was only settled last year. The next charter review is 2012 - at which time the landscape regarding ISPs, broadband, etc. will be totally different (we should be mostly if not totally digital by then for example). The incumbent government of the time will then make the final decision, present it to the queen (it being a royal charter) and carry on as usual.

      Part of the license fee going towards broadband
  • Maddness! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SplatMan_DK (1035528) * on Saturday April 12, 2008 @03:37PM (#23048500) Homepage Journal
    Sadly, this madness is already in effect in Denmark. I launched a website with a petition [stopcomputerlicens.dk] to stop this ludicrous practice in Denmark about 1½ year ago (note: site is in Danish!)

    We have collected more than 41.000 "signatures" in opposition of applying TV license fees to the internet and/or devices which have absolutely nothing to do with television.

    I have written a quick background summary in English [stopcomputerlicens.dk] on my website. The rest of the site is in Danish ... sorry :-)

    So unfortunately, the British are not the first to go down this sad path.

    - Jesper
    • Here is some additional information directly from DR, the Danish state television company (who thinks it is perfectly ok to rip people off, and force them to pay TV license fees even if they don't own a TV set and never watch TV).

      http://www.dr.dk/OmDR/Licens/sprog/20061009123141.htm [www.dr.dk]

      brgds

      - Jesper
  • The rich get richer and the poor get taxed to oblivion. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Fuck it, I'll move back to Mars.
  • Does anybody really think TV-on-demand over IP can ever work?

    It's concentrated stupidity in its very purest form. One tiny drop of this is enough to lower the collective IQ of an entire nation.

    • iplayer seems to work OK.

      It's actually quite useful - I've found a lot of stuff that I wouldn't normally watch whilst browsing through it. Probably the first implementation I've ever seen that was actually usable, as long as you don't get suckered into downloading that kontiki crap.
  • Its the fault of the ISP,s who of late have been bitching about the BBC iplayer and how they should have a cut of the TV liscense fee. Well tooo me this response by the govement was not only a firm bitchslap back but also a very forward thinking and indeed logical relook at reality. Bottom line its the customer who bends over once the bickering has been done.
  • youtube and liveleak's material is not on TV unless it is Gore's stupid cable channel.

    I am more likely to watch them in a given day than broadcast TV.

    If I want I movie... bittorrent - and not any content from a broadcaster....
    and that holds for XXX too.

    BBC is fricking boring.... BORING!
    Sat/Cable - Andrew Bourdain maybe history chan and nat geo chan otherwise forget it...

    Now for the Number one USE of the internet WoW....
    Blizzard is the only one responsible for that not any tax funded circle jerks...

    New
  • Networks and other content distributors should simply setup subscription trackers. Problem solved simply and easily. It will work as well as the license fee does in the UK, if not better: if you want to see more of some content, encourage people to sign up.
  • If this was a tax at give us all fiber it would be awesome. We'd finally have a publically owned fiber network that we could rent out to ISPs and the government could make money off.

    Instead it's an attempt by the BBC to get even more money for their crap shows for idiots so they can pay morons like Jonathan Ross millions of pounds.

    The BBC can go crawl back into the hole from where it came and I hope it dies. It's a useless service as the internet has taken over and I am sick of their bias reporting..

    I'm sic

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