I was a university student when I lived in the UK in 2009. As a fresher I only had 30 quid a week to spend on food – I remember that in my first year of uni, I used to eat a can of tuna once a week to save some money.
As you may imagine, I couldn’t afford any luxuries living on £30 a week. To me, watching live TV was one of them, and as you may or may not know, that privilege has a rather high cost in the UK.
To avoid paying the £145.50 TV licence fee, I used to watch pre-recorded content on BBC iPlayer, an option a lot of people choose for the same reason.
Now that the UK government is trying to find billions of pounds in savings through public services cuts, prime minister David Cameron and culture secretary John Whittingdale have decided it is time for the BBC to go through some changes.
One of the “revisions” is dropping the TV licence fee that funds the BBC (last year the corporation got 3.7 billion pounds in funding through the tax) and eventually making the outlet a subscription-based service. People would not be prosecuted for watching live TV without paying the licence fee by 2017 when the renewal of the BBC Charter – the body that oversees the BBC – takes place.
Decriminalisation is not possible under the current funding scheme, so the government is thinking of implementing a housing levy to charge residents or reform the licence fee. I think the licence fee hits people on limited incomes (students, low earners and immigrants) and gets them looking for a web alternative – and probably breaking the law.
Maybe the UK should drop the licence fee, and fund the BBC through a different method. A lower subscription fee would make anyone who wants to watch the BBC pay and fund one of the best media corporations in the world.