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Should the BBC license be mandatory? Show more Show less

Introduced in 1923, more than 25 million UK TV owners pay the annual license fee that fund the BBC’s television and radio operations. Non-payment is considered a criminal offence and can result in a hefty fine. As other European nations move away from mandatory license fees, should the UK government follow suit?

Yes, the BBC license should be mandatory Show more Show less

The BBC provides a non-excludable service of public good and could only function in its current form through a mandatory license fee.
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BBC News is an essential public service

We pay for the police and fire brigade; like them, a national news service is an essential service.
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Context

While much of BBC coverage is made redundant by the private offerings on the market, BBC News is a unique product that could not be replicated by the private sector.

The Argument

In democracies, government has an obligation to keep its population informed. Democracies cannot function if voters do not have the information they need to allow them to make good decisions at the ballot box. The BBC's news offering was founded on that premise, and continues to fulfil it. While other elements of the BBC's offering compete with the private sector, BBC News is unique in its capacity to make editorial decisions free from any commercial constraints. There has been a colossal destruction of value in the media and journalism business globally over the last 15 years, which has meant bureaus closing, 30% of journalists laid off (from peak numbers) and a reduction of critical coverage. Misinformation, and outright disinformation have spread like wildfire since. BBC News, as a source of deep, trustworthy reporting, is an essential national service, and justifies the licence fee alone.

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    This page was last edited on Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 01:50 UTC