By attempting to crack down on TV licence dodgers, the BBC have now made it so you need a registered email address and password to watch online shows. To many of us, this news is just downright annoying. We grew up in the digital age, where if we randomly want to re-watch Drake & Josh, no questions asked, for free, we can. I think we’d be lying if any us here said we didn’t know how to go about illegally downloading or streaming.
So, when we’re trying focus on the intense showstoppers on Bake Off but we can’t seem to shake off an underlying fear of being caught and smacked in the face with a huge fine, we’re annoyed. I mean, the cheek of it.
But, what If I were to tell you there are two sides to the licensing fee. Some argue that the licensing fee keeps the BBC ad-free and independent, which are two very positive things. Also, the BBC needs funding so if they were to scrap it, they would have to replace it with a new heavily commercialised system, or worse, a subscription fee. As it stands, we have to pay £147 a year or £12.15 monthly, if we want to be on the right side of the law. Which isn’t even that much if you’re sharing it with your housemates.
However, many students own subscriptions to Netflix or Amazon Prime and only ever so often watch anything by the BBC, so is it fair that they have to pay the full, whopping £147, simply because they’re a fan of Strictly Come Dancing? Many students, perfectly innocently, just forget, and blissfully continue catching up on their favourite shows. Is it fair that they could be fined up to a maximum of £1000? There are of course grey areas, and not all parts of the enforced licensing fee are fair.
Is it fair that they have to pay the full, whopping £147, simply because they’re a fan of Strictly Come Dancing?
It also seems kind of silly that some of the money of the fee you pay goes towards catching others out, probably not much, but still, not cool. The use of linking online dodgers with their email isn’t even fool proof, as many people have at least one throw away email or can simply stream shows on online catch up sites.
It should be said, however, that the BBC does do great work. It is the envy of other nations and the BBC often make attempts at being progressive risk takers. This is down to opinion, but can you really rely on the other channels to bring such a variety of content? Even the side ventures such as BBC Three provided us with Stacey Dooley’s critical documentaries to unheard of/up and coming comedians to Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. Even now, since it’s gone online, it is still producing interesting things, for example the mini-series adapted from an award-winning play on Anorexia (Overshadowed).
So if paying the fee keeps the BBC independent, progressive and ad-free, I guess it’s not so bad. That said, nothing will probably ever stop me from complaining about a mandatory fee.