Feeds

BBC licence fee on ice for 6 years

Trebles all round at the Trust - it could have been worse

High performance access to file storage

The BBC Trust has accepted the decision to freeze the licence fee at £145.50 for a colour licence for the next six years. But it could have been much, much worse for the corporation.

Talks on the future of the fee beyond 2012 were due to take place next year, with the BBC pre-emptively offering to freeze the fee for two years up to 2012. But in July, coalition Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that it was reasonable to expect the fee to be cut in line with cuts elsewhere.

In 2007, Labour's review of the BBC's charter granted the BBC increases of three per cent for the years 2007 to 2009, and two per cent for subsequent years up to 2013.

The BBC has also been saddled with new commitments, such as funding the World Service (currently it is the Foreign Office that signs the cheques) and S4C, and funding rural broadband. These add up to £665m of additional spending commitments. It sounds a lot, but isn't: it represents less than three per cent of the corporation's income for the next six years.

But it may not end there. Hunt's junior, Ed Vaizey, suggested that the BBC should also bear the brunt for the expansion of DAB radio transmissions - the commercial radio sector is in the tank, and doesn't want to pay.

In a statement BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons called it "tough" but said it brought stability and independence - which is really a relieved thank you and a hope for more of the same.

There's one way the BBC could make up the difference. While the licence fee is frozen, the BBC's income isn't.

The BBC has a commercial arm, Worldwide, which sells rights to programme formats (eg, Top Gear), shows, and merchandise such as toy Daleks, as well as publishing. This took home over £1bn in income last year, but the profit was was just £140m. That's a pretty low profit margin for a commercial operation, as we noted here. Selling a show that's already been made (and paid for) entails little more than taking somebody for lunch and engaging a lawyer to look over the contract. The profit margin for such a deal should be close to 100 per cent. Maybe they're not taking potential customers to the right places for lunch? Or maybe those lunches are really, really expensive.

Around 75 per cent of UK households now voluntarily pay for TV services, and it's quite a tidy sum. Sky's ARPU per household is £508 a year, and that's on top of their TV licence. If the BBC ever dared take its choicest, premium content subscription (or was pushed into it), it might not do too badly at all. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.