Letter: Abolish the TV licence

On February 20, you ran a story about 1,600 TV licence dodgers in Shropshire, I am surprised that this figure wasn’t higher.

BBC - stock

With everything that is going on at the BBC, I am amazed that more people haven’t aired their anger and outrage at having to fund the investigation of the worst sex offender this country has ever seen and the individuals that covered for him.

A TV licensing spokesperson said that to be fair to the law-abiding majority who do pay, they would continue to pursue the small minority of people who do not pay.

Isn’t it about time that the Government took steps to abolish the TV Licence and give us all the choice and a welcome tax relief.

Mr R Urquhart


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Comments for: "Letter: Abolish the TV licence"

Andrew finch

No excuse not to pay its the law , however i think it is time ie 2013 an issue like the tv licence needs to be dealt with although we are stuck with it for the next few years .

It needs to be abolished and the bbc either takes adverts or offer its service on payper view it is shocking we as tax payers are forced by law to pay for a media such as the BBC.

R Suppards

I completely agree. If the BBC was funded through a smartcard system then it would perk up its ideas, axe the fringe TV and radio channels and be compelled to make viewers want to pay to see it, by improving the quality of its transmissions.

I'd probably buy a BBC smartcard (or however it was done) but at least I'd have the choice about it. Advertisements, not subscribers pay for the commercial channels. The TV licence is an anachronistic tax and should get the axe. So who's first in the rebellious queue not to pay the licence fee? Can they take everyone to Court? I think not.

Meanwhile, hooray for the smart box, whereby the adverts can be fast-forwarded.

Kat de Gama

Ok fines are ratified by the court but non-payers don't get dragged there in in chains! Personally, radio 4 and the world service are the backdrop to my daily life. I would hate to lose them. TV could be improved though - and the payoffs have been outrageous.

this old chestnut again

Totally flogging a dead horse with this. The BBC covers a whole range of programmes to suit all taste, all because its not to your liking doesn't mean its rubbish.

Alan Partridge

The Quality of BBC programmes is already very high, the problem is, it tries to please too many people, too much of the time, and despite what the Murdoch press wants you to believe, it is not responsible for Jimmy Savile !

I fail to see the justification many of the local services, and I'm sure there is a very high level of wastage, as with any nationalised industry. I am constantly at a loss to see news reporters (and crew) stood in the dark, outside a hospital or Westminister to deliver a piece to camera. What is the point of Nicholas Witchell ?

I'm tired of hearing they are left leaning, they are not. Notice how they are currently rolling over whilst their government paymasters continue with their savage attacks on the poor and disadvantaged.

Having said all that, advertising would be the worst possible outcome for British television, just look to America for proof, (although american comedy output has been much better than ours over the last 3 years) but if the BBC was purely profit and ratings driven, we would be left with 24 hour X Factor, I'm a Celeb', and soaps all selling us stuff we don't need every 10 minutes. No Thanks.

Andrew finch

Correct on many scores, however why should people be forced to pay FOfor your enjoyment ?, I watch little tv all i see is i am being asked to pay for anothers television pleasures . What other area are people asked to do that.


If you look up who the "TV licensing spokesperson" is on those bogus news articles you'll find they all work for Public Relations companies. This is because they want to keep the public intimidated into paying


The TV licence fee, in my opinion, should be stopped for a number of reasons mainly that most people can get access to all sorts of media via mobile phones, computers etc so there are many free choices out there, so it is not as if the BBC have a monopoly on airing programmes like news, music etc so I think it is unfair to pay a fee for BBC TV.

I will be totally honest I do not know what the TV licence fee pays for - but I assume like most people, that it pays for the BBC and its employees. This is my biggest gripe. There are some exceptional programmes on TV from all channels which do advertise products. You may have noticed a letter P before a programme starts. This indicates that there is product placement or in other words advertising, so the arguement about paying for programmes is rubbish as there are already private investments going to pay for BBC programmes.

So in short - a welcome relief from paying the licence fee would be appreciated by everyone, but don't book your holiday just yet, I guess its not on the immediate agenda


If you believe in TV detector vans then you believe in fairies and angels....


The BBC is a national and international institution, the envy of the world. The sheer quality and variety of original programming is amongst the best in the world, in cases such as wildlife programmes THE best and is often distinctive from other channels, particularly the light entertainment shown by ITV. People complain about the cost yet pay a small fortune to watch the rubbish peddled by Sky Which is often heavily repeated. By no means is the BBC perfect, but it sure leads the field and is worth every penny. BBC4 in particular is worth the licence fee alone.


Spot on Fred. Agree absolutely that the BBC is not perfect but superb value for money overall in my opinion.


The BBC is "the envy of the world" is it? Verification please. Vacuous tosh.

Ken Adams

Just because the BBC is popular with a some who seem to think everything it does is beyond question, is really no reason why the rest of us should be forced to pay for it even when we do not use it.

If we were charged a fee for watching the BBC that would be at least reasonable but we are charged the licence fee for just having the capability to receive any TV signal, even if we never watch the BBC we are still forced to pay for it. This is especially galling when a large proportion of us do see the BBC as a Liberal Left biased institution using its domineering power in the media to control the political debate in this country.


"Control the political debate" - I think Murdoch's media empire does a pretty good job on that score too.


"Liberal Left biased institution"

I wondered when the Daily Mail readers would arrive and spout their favourite catchphrase.

Is your evidence for this the BBC's political editor being the former chairman of the Young Conservatives? or maybe that Michael Portillo has his own program? or maybe it was the humanising of the appalling Anne Widdecombe on Strictly Come Dancing?

When people moan about bias it's not that they're against bias per se, they just think things should be biased towards what they "think", however an instituion biased towards the tin-hat brigade wouldn't get many viewers no matter how much you think you're the "silent majority"

Ken Adams

Why do you feel it is helpful to tell me where I get my information when instead it shows your insulting tactics for what they are.

If you read it again you will note that I said

“when a large proportion of us do see the BBC as a Liberal Left biased institution”

So that you choose to differ is hardly the point is it.

You make the point admirably when you say “When people moan about bias it's not that they're against bias per se, they just think things should be biased towards what they "think"

I think you do not see the bias because the BBC is biased towards what you think.

If you believe putting an elderly conservative woman in a dancing competition or allowing an ex conservative to talk about train journeys, will convince me of the BBC Impartiality you must really think I read the Mail.

It should be noted that the BBC controls 60% of the broadcast news audience in the UK, which makes a mockery over any fears that Sky might pose a threat to competition in the market.


'...a Liberal Left biased institution.

Well, isn't that a bit rich coming from someone who normally decries the meaningless bandying about of right/left, Labour/Tory type labels?

NI might well have posed a threat to competition if Mr Hunt had had his way and waved through their BSkyB takeover. Luckily, it was discovered, in the nick of time, that NI were an organisation in ownership of a publication that believed hacking the phones of (variously) abducted children, families of 'our war heroes', terrorist victims etc was a cutting-edge method of gathering news. But we've all forgotten that now, haven't we? Just as we 'forget' the other 99.9% of history because those in power like to rewrite it for us.

As for the BBC, I find it quite reassuring to see it attacked as right-wing, left-wing, liberal, pro-establishment, sycophantic to the monarchy, disrespectful of the monarchy etc etc. It makes me thing it's doing at least some things


Ken Adams

The point is I said many of us view the BBC as a liberal left organisation. Another way of putting would be the BBC does not speak for us it does not connect with our views.

But we are still forced to pay for it because of the license fee. I do not care if the BBC is or is not biased I see it such and do not want my money used to promote its values.

Let us assume you were forced to pay for Sky through a licence system, you would soon be screaming from the roof tops how unfair it was that you were forced to support an organisation which did not represent your views.


'...you would soon be screaming from the roof tops..'

Well, ranting away on a message-board anyway.

Yes, I would be protesting against an organisation associated with industrial scale law-breaking (illegal intrusions on other peoples' pain and grief, lest it need repeating) having excessive control over what I watch, read and listen to. Sorry if such beliefs sound strange.

Ken Adams

I was referring to the the left right bias of Sky I think you know that, so that was just a cheap shot.

I could do the same sort of thing with Saville and the others at the BBC but that would be plain silly.


I disagree. I raised the phone-hacking scandal as the reason NI and Sky do not represent a 'threat to competition'. They would have represented such a threat if the scandal had been kept under wraps - Jeremy Hunt would have seen to that for them. The Savile scandal is the background to the letter that actually started this debate, so I hardly see it as 'being silly' to refer to it.

As for your other arguments, the question is surely whether or not you believe in the whole notion of public service broadcasting. If yes, your 'liberal, soft-left' arguments are basically a disingenuous way of saying 'I want PSB as long as it agrees with what I think'. If not, the 'liberal, soft-left' stuff is irrelevant.

Thank you James the notion of public service broadcasting does not mean we must have a BBC paid for by a licence fee, we already have a plurality of provision, it was after all the government who decided to allow competition in Public Service Broadcasting.

The question is not about public service broadcasting but if we should have a government funded media outlet. If we do then what are the arguments for that in this day and age, we do not have a publicly funded newspaper so why TV and radio. Then should it be so powerful, then it must be absolutely provable to be totally unbiased in its coverage, because its funding comes from everyone in the country not just one sector a large sector of the community feel the BBC works against their interests then that is reason enough to dispense with the BBC.

If we are to have a publicly funded service it must cover a great deal more than the BBC presently does; its political coverage is deplorable to say the least, coverage of country pursuits is practically non existent, all we seem to get is wall to wall football, what about fishing, shooting, horse riding, when was the last time the BBC covered any county shows ext

Please do not try to argue these are not popular the whole point of public service broadcasting is to promote diversity and in any case country file is getting more viewers than dancing on ice.


The 'in this day and age' bit is probably instructive here. Part of the thing with the BBC is that it started out when we still had an empire and was a symbol of national and imperial prestige. That's one reason it's seen by some even today as pro-establishment, though I personally think there's also an argument for that in the way it bowed the knee after the Kelly affair, and in its sycophancy towards the royals. How it's ever seen as 'anti-monarchy' is utterly beyond me.

I have no wish to argue that the BBC has no need to cover things that are not popular. In fact

I agree with much of what you're saying, in the 3rd para especially. If I may get personal for a moment, one reason I still feel a bond with the BBC is that I lived in China for 3+ years back in the early 90s (before widespread 24hr cable TV and the like) and listened a lot to the World Service. The best thing about it was hearing things I wouldn't normally have bothered with on the radio, like classical music, scientific programmes etc. In that respect, it fulfilled the 'to educate' part of its remit. The phrase 'the envy of the world' is hyperbole, I think, but I can still attest that the BBC had an eagar audience among the Chinese at the time. Without it, some of them would have only thought of Britain in Dickensian 'fog over the Thames' type cliches.

I've got no wish to argue for nonsense like BBC reality shows, overpaid (and under-informed) football pundits, the unpleasantness of people like Jonathan Ross, or anything of that ilk - to say nothing of its role in the Savile business.

Still, I just think that if we lost the BBC, many of us would want the good parts of it straight back. If you don't think it's got many good parts to offer, or don't think it should be paid for out of a licence fee, fair enough.


I might just sit up all night and watch the tittle tattle - better than any current program - Hey there'a an idea for another reality show . . . perhaps we could call it

"it doesn't matter what other peoples opinion is, if its not the same as mine I will try to rubbish them - on ice"