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Sunday 1 March 2009

‘Cash-strapped BBC’ has probably never been better off

The experience of uncovering the widely misreported crowd figures at the Manchester Pride parade has given me a healthy scepticism towards anything I read in the press.

A popular theme in the news these days is that the BBC is short of cash. But this is never put into a historical context. It seems that journalists are either too lazy or over-worked to look into it in any depth. So I decided to find out for myself…

If you compare the cost of the colour TV licence back in 1969, adjusted for inflation it is almost identical to the cost now: £139.50. But, back in 1969, very few households had a colour TV set. Most paid for a black and white licence, which cost just over half the price.

I don’t have figures but, with the decline of the family unit and the rise in the population since 1969, I’m sure there are many more households nowadays. So more TV licences are bought and they are virtually all colour.

In other words, the BBC has never been better off. But these days it chooses to spread the money over a wider range of services.

The thing that I find most annoying is that BBC executives pop up in the news saying that the Corporation can no longer afford to do the kind of drama and documentary programmes that it used to. So, in future, they must be co-productions with foreign broadcasters, with all the negatives that come with that.

While the IPlayer and BBC website are terrific, the truth is that the BBC chooses not to make the money available for the things it used to do.

And if the aim is to push the licence fee even higher… Well I don’t think that should happen, because households are already stretched to breaking point.

Filed under: consumer,Politics,TV & film — GS @ 2:00 am

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