Say, there’s a new TV broadcaster launching. A company similar to
Sky or Granada or ONdigital.
It is going to offer two separate channels. The first is a mainstream
station offering the usual breakfast and daytime programmes, with
sitcoms and dramas in the evening.
The second channel offers a mix of documentaries and informative
programming such as cooking or wildlife, with the occasional sporting
event, and some modern comedy in the evening.
The only real ’big name’ shows are EastEnders on the first channel and
perhaps The Fast Show on the second. The subscription for the two
channels is about pounds 10 a month and you get a couple of radio
stations thrown in.
Would you sign up?
Probably not. It’s not a particularly inviting offer compared with other
TV providers. But here’s the catch. You have to. No choice
Subscription is compulsory.
Even if you only use a TV set to watch Sky or play video games, you’re
obliged to subscribe to these stations. Hardly fair, is it? So how does
the BBC get away with it?
In a free market of choice and healthy competition, why doesn’t it have
to compete at all? Everyone else has to fight for viewers by providing
desirable TV, while the BBC gets to tell us, ’Pay up, or we’ll send the
Imagine if Sky was allowed to do that. Charge everyone in Britain pounds
10 a month regardless of whether they wanted to watch dated movies or
cartoons, and fine them thousands of pounds if they disagree.
To add insult to injury, the BBC has just decided to increase its
compulsory subscription by pounds 3 a year. And why not? Who can argue
with the Beeb?
Not us, the ’customers’. We, apparently, have no right to choose what we
buy and what we don’t.
Got a rant or a Diary story? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to
Diary editor, Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6.