Reply from the government

There relevant bits are as follow:

  • This petition has become part of the large evidence base gathered during the public consultation held in July 2015.
  • The Government acknowledges other countries’ views on Public Service Broadcasting funding models.
  • The Government is still considering whether the licence fee remains the best way to fund the BBC and continue to consider recommendations regarding the enforcement process.
  • The Government’s position will be set out in the White Paper.

 

The reply can be read in full here.

Now, this is a very wishy-washy answer at best. All references to the David Perry Review just make me hit the roof.

  • First of all, David Perry relied heavily on the BBC’s response and findings.
  • Secondly, he did not interview a single person who had been recently visited by a TV licence officer or prosecuted by the BBC to ask them what they think of TV licence enforcement methods. So basically, he covered only one side of the story.

Even before starting, David Perry’s premise was that the BBC offers “value for money” and the bottom line was “if decriminalisation is likely to jeopardise revenues, then the status quo should remain”.

 He did not explore the following questions:

  • Is keeping the licence fee down and maintaining all the current BBC services more important than the social impact of this coercive funding method?
  • Can we make good television using only money freely given?
  • If people overwhelmingly like the BBC as the BBC claims it does, why not switch to voluntary donations/subscription?

Finally, he recommended that more flexible payment plans be investigated, ignoring the basic problem that money is finite and that some people don’t have enough of it to cover the basics. Another recommendation is that cable and satellite companies should share their customer data with TV licensing. This is a bit rich, coming from a barrister, as he should be well aware that it implies a major breach of the data protection act.


So this is it for now but remember that the petition can be handed over again and that I will try to expose the BBC’s funding model in new rounds of FOI in due course.

In the meantime, don’t forget my other petition, on the official parliament website and while you are there, have a look at the other petitions against the BBC too.

Stop the BBC Internet tax (proposed extension of the TV licence to the iPlayer)

internet tax mod mod

STOP THE INTERNET TAX (proposed extension of the TV licence to iPlayer)

  • If signed by 10,000 people, the government will be forced to acknowledge this new petition (and will have to respond to it).
  • At 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Sign here!!! https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124042

puppy love

Please share! So far over 3,300 people all over the UK have signed the petition. They are well distributed as pictured below.petition map

(To see an updated image click here).

Now, if everyone was talking about this petition to at least 5 other people in his/her town/city, the map would light up like a Xmas tree in no time. Come on, I’m sure you have a brother, a mother or a friend who might share your view! The word of mouth is EVERYTHING in campaigns like this.

And if all the people who signed my previous petition (182,600 people!) could also sign this petition quickly (i.e. before the new legislation is put in place!), we would have enough signatures to secure a debate and potentially block the proposed extension of BBC’s funding privileges.

When the BBC launched the iPlayer, in 2007, and when it extended the programme availability from 7 days to 30 days in 2014, the BBC knew that those services would be provided free of charge. Therefore there is no loophole.

The government shouldn’t help the BBC enforcing outdated  and unfair coercive measures when all the BBC has to do is to cease to offer content on demand or password protect it.

internet tax mod mod small


 

Originally, I had written a 366 words text explaining this, but I soon realised that the official petition website only allows 300 characters! The attention span of the government is limited to the content of 2 tweets!! I therefore had to reduce my text to bare bones.

If you are curious about my original text, here it is:

Stop the BBC Internet tax (proposed extension of the TV licence to the iPlayer)

It has been reported in the press that Culture secretary John Whittingdale is to close imminently a loophole that allows viewers to legally watch the BBC iPlayer without paying the licence fee. This proposal has been agreed between the government and the BBC in secret negations without any scrutiny. Too many undemocratic decisions like this have been taken in dubious circumstances and without proper consultation during the course of this Royal Charter Renewal.

The current TV licence should never have covered all live TV, as it serves to fund the BBC only. By extending this incredible and outdated privilege, the proposed change is the first step towards what is in effect a global internet tax. The proposed changes are too wide-ranging, imprecise and impractical.

When the BBC launched the iPlayer in 2007 and when it extended the programme availability from 7 days to 30 days in 2014, the BBC knew that those services would be provided free of charge. Therefore there is no loophole. Equating catch-up services to a ‘free ride’ and law abiding internet users to ‘freeloaders’ is inaccurate and malicious.

It is mind numbing that the government should further help a multi-billion pound establishment to extend coercive measures, put in place nearly a century ago, when the BBC can simply cease to offer content on demand if it doesn’t want to put it out for free or password protect it if it chose to.

Charging the full TV licence to cover iPlayer content only is out of proportion.

Allowing the BBC to enforce this proposed change means giving BBC ‘officers’ authority to invade the privacy of people’s homes, looking for electronics such as smart-phones, computers and tablets, and permitting computers to be scrutinized by civilians. This is a fundamental breach of Civil Rights and must be stopped. This erosion of rights and liberties over funding the state broadcaster is not acceptable.  Finally, it’s important to mention that iPlayer can be used for legitimately licence-free pastimes such as listening to BBC radio programming.

The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons to debate and reconsider any extension of the already unfair TV Licence poll tax regime.

new petition mod modclick here  or copy and paste https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124042

Time frame for a reply

I’ve emailed the Petition Committee at the House of Commons, asking for a time frame.

Sean Harris replied:

“The paper petition presented to Parliament on 20 January 2016 should receive a written response from the Government by the end of March.”

 Petitions Committee | House of Commons | London | SW1A 0AA
T: 020 7219 7613  Text relay: 18001 20 7219 7613

New Approved Wording for the petition

BBC licence fee

To the House of Commons.

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the petitioners are dissatisfied with the BBC licence fee; further that up to 50 MPs recently demanded an urgent Government review of BBC funding; further that the Magistrates’ Association has been calling for the decriminalisation of TV licence evasion for nearly 20 years, concerned that evaders are punished disproportionately; further that 52.8 million letters were sent in 2014 to suspected evaders which were followed up by 3.8 million visits by TV licence officers, 204,018 prosecutions (or out of court disposals), of which 24,025 were unsuccessful, and 40 imprisonments, for an average of 20 days; further that the licence fee represents a much higher proportion of income for poor households; further that it gives an unfair advantage to one broadcaster; further that the UK is now perceived less favourably internationally by countries that have never enforced TV licence fees or have abolished their TV licence due to its public broadcaster funding model; further that the petitioners find the BBC’s content outdated and biased and therefore do not wish to fund it; and further that an online petition on the matter was signed by 170,000 individuals.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to end the BBC licence fee.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

Update

It has been brought to my attention that the wording of the petition had been changed after I submitted the second draft. Just to prove my point, here is a scanned copy of the text I proposed.

scanned petition rework