Saturday, January 21, 2006

ONS agrees with TAE: It's a tax!

In a rare occurrence, the corrupt use of language - not to mention the PR of the BBC - has officially been dealt a small blow. From the Office of National Statistics:
The television licence fee has been reclassified as a tax, because the licence fee is a compulsory payment which is not paid solely for access to BBC services. Previously, the licence fee had been classified as a service charge. This reclassification means that the BBC will move from the public non-financial corporations sub-sector to the central government sector, effectively moving from one part of the public sector to another.
Finally, official recognition that the BBC is not in fact providing a "service" in return for the payment that is coerced out of TV owners. Now perhaps we can move on to the next logical question: If the BBC is not providing me with a service, why should I have to pay for it?

13 Comments:

Anonymous Grumpy Troll said...

I am leaving a message simply to point out a typographical error in the post's title: "ONC" instead of "ONS".

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the BBC is not providing me with a service, why should I have to pay for it?

Doesn't this change mean that you are NOT paying for the BBC.

You are paying a tax to the government.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Grumpy...thanks. It's been fixed.

Anon - No, it doesn't mean that. It is simply the recognition that I am paying for something without necessarily receiving a benefit in return....just like most things for which the government uses tax revenues.

SC

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Grumpy Troll said...

The licence fee is a compulsory payment which is not paid solely for access to BBC services.

What are the services other than the BBC's which the licence fee is paid for?

The figures the BBC gives for expenditure of licence fee income indicate that none of it is spared for services other than the BBC's.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Grumpy,

I think the point is not that the revenue goes to things other than BBC services, but rather is that the source of the revenue is not limited to those who actually make use of the services the BBC provides.

Given the absolute monopoly that the BBC once enjoyed, it was a reasonable assumption that those who owned a TV (and hence had to pay the "license fee") were making use of the BBC's services. Clearly that is no longer a reasonable assumption, a fact which the ONS seems to now recognize.

SC

12:45 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I'm not sure it's a good thing. While the government continued with its absurd insistence that the license fee was a service charge, you could at least argue that, since service wasn't being adequately provided, you shouldn't have to pay it. But it is in the nature of taxes that you pay them regardless of notions of service; you can't say that you should pay less tax because you don't, for example, have any kids who require schooling.

I fear this may be the precursor to the abandonment of the volitional element of the license fee process; the huge ad campaigns to pay your fee as much as admit that the TVLA is facing declining compliance, so perhaps the government is preparing to abandon the license fee concept, and will simply add the new tax onto, say, council tax, which will save all of the enforcement costs.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

I think its worse than we know.

Not paying the TV license is not a crime. Not paying the fine if you get caught and fined, is.

Not paying tax is tax evasion and a big time crime.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem that the BBC is rapidly coming up against with the Licence Fee is how people will view a television.
Whilst the TV was a big box in the corner connected to an aerial on the roof the question didn't arise. Increasingly a TV is becoming a viewing screen for other media. Whether it can receive broadcast signals becomes less and less important. What's the difference between a cable feed and streamed broadband? Watching a film on BBC1 at 9.00 or watching the same film two hours later on rented DVD? The experience is identical but one requires a TV Licence.
Conversely, I've just bought a digital TV decoder for my laptop. Plug in gadget the size of a chuck away lighter and less than fifty quid. Where's the incentive to pay another hundred and sixty odd to legitimately watch and for that matter record the programs? There's no TV in my house and if the detector van boys reckon they can locate the decoder good luck to them. I haven't been able to find it for a week and I've looked down the back of the sofa.
I agree that he redefinition of the Licence fee as a tax is the first stage of making it one. Within five years the old system will be unenforceable.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous bc10 said...

Did anyone find it odd that the BBC saw fit to put a story about John Simpson becoming a father on the front page but that the story about the license-fee hike was relegated to the nether regions fot he entertainment pages?

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are paying because you have a TV set and choose to live in the UK. Simple as that.

If I buy a set of golf clubs in the US, part of the purchase tax will no doubt go to pay for Bush's illegal oil grab.

But that's the choice I make (or not).

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you say, it's always been obvious the licence fee is a tax.

The most idiotic thing about it is the high costs of enforcement. Something like 5-10% (I forget the exact figure, but you can work it out from the BBC's annual accounts) of the money you pay goes straight back into enforcement - advertising, detector vans etc.

The licence fee might have made sense in the 1950s when only a minority of homes had TV and it would have been unfair to fund the BBC from general taxation. Now, when the vast majority of homes have TV, and the rest have BBC radio funded by the licence fee, it becomes difficult to justify the high cost of collection.

If the BBC is to stay publicly funded (as I believe it should, but that's another argument), it would make much more sense to fund it out of general taxation. The current system is a relic of the 1950s (and even earlier). The only entity in the UK who benefits from it is the company with the contract for enforcing the licence fee (Crapita) - and their benefit is at everyone else's involuntary expense.

It's unjustifiable, and overdue for reform.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pay for the NHS..but I havent been in a hospital in years. You pay for the greater good. Everyone pays, everyone benefits.
Our NHS is a Third World service, BBC Tv, Radio and website are the best in the world. You dont know how lucky you are.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pay for the NHS..but I havent been in a hospital in years. You pay for the greater good. Everyone pays, everyone benefits.
Our NHS is a Third World service, BBC Tv, Radio and website are the best in the world. You dont know how lucky you are.

11:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home