Feeds

BBC licence fee on ice for 6 years

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.