Skip to main content

A Farewell to Schedules

The COVID-19 change in lifestyle seems to have accelerated something that has been coming for a while - we have now entirely abandoned watching TV at the broadcast time, and, for the most part, only stream programmes.

The only things we don't stream are any programs we want to watch on ITV or Channel 4 - these are recorded on a PVR (digital personal video recorder) so we can skip through the adverts. But for the rest, which is a mix of BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Britbox and Amazon Prime, it's streaming all the way. This means we spend most of our TV watching time using the excellent Apple TV box - again, it's only for ITV and Channel 4 we have to switch back to the PVR, and currently, in the summer desert of interesting new material, such times are few and far between.

There's a wonderful freedom to moving away from the schedules. If we want to watch, say, three episodes of Mrs America on the BBC in a row, we can. Or to simply ignore something for a few days and then come back to it without worrying if it recorded okay.

I've long argued that the BBC needs to move from a legally enforced licence fee to a subscription model. This new way of viewing emphasises this even more. I'd happily pay an iPlayer subscription to do away with the need for the licence fee - and it just makes so much more sense. I was delighted that in his excellent book The Nanny State Made Me, Stuart Maconie also argues for moving away from the licence fee. His reasoning is different from mine, but equally valid. Maconie points out that the licence fee means that the BBC ends up pumping out loads of trash because it has to be everything to everybody, where a subscription would enable it to do what it does best and only that.

I read a ridiculous article by Polly Toynbee the other day claiming 'The government’s next assault [after the BBC stopped providing free licences for over-75's] is their proposal to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence, effectively making it voluntary.' What? So is she saying it's voluntary to pay for everything else where it's a civil offence not to pay? This is ludicrous. Making non-payment of the licence fee a criminal offence means thousands of people get unnecessary criminal records. But it also underlines what a terrible system the licence fee is.

I appreciate that not everyone is ready to go straight to streaming (though I suspect most younger people are) - but surely it's time we had a hybrid system where you either get a TV licence or can subscribe to iPlayer without a licence? The world has changed - the BBC's funding has to as well.


  1. I completely agree. The licence-fee model of funding is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope