Have you ever wondered how the BBC spends the cash it receives from every TV licence fee payer?
Legally speaking, a TV licence is required for every property where equipment is installed or used to receive TV programme services. The TV licence fee is used exclusively to fund the BBC, but has to be paid irrespective of the channel a person chooses to watch. This absurd anachronism means a person could spend hundreds every year to enjoy premium channels on Sky, but still have to pay a TV licence fee in support of the BBC.
The TV licence stems from an era when the BBC was the only UK broadcaster and people were grateful for the crackly company of television. They viewed television as almost magical in the way it delivered entertainment to the corner of their living rooms. They didn't know, back then, of all the underhand dealings going on behind the closed doors of Broadcasting House.
Today, with a rich tapestry of non-BBC channels adorning the broadcast spectrum, people are rightly questioning whether the TV licence fee is a suitable model for funding a national broadcaster so embroiled in controversy and cavalier in public spending.
Contrary to the impression given in the media the TV licence fee is not all spent on champagne, taxis, fat cat pensions and damage-limitation exercises.
We have extracted the following data about how the TV licence fee is spent from the BBC Annual Report 2014.
BBC Licence Fee Allocation
Here's how the £145.50 licence fee was spent in 2013, according to the BBC:
- £96 was spent on BBC Television (total spend £2,276m).
- £27.60 was spent on BBC Radio (total spend £650m).
- £7.32 was spent on BBC Online (total spend £174m).
- £21.84 was spent elsewhere (total spend £357m).
BBC Television Spending
Considering BBC Television for a moment, which is by far the largest beneficiary of the TV licence fee:
- £1,311m was spent on BBC One (58% of BBC Television spending).
- £552m was spent on BBC Two (24%).
- £109m was spent on BBC Three (5%).
- £66m was spent on BBC Four (3%).
- £101m was spent on CBBC (4%).
- £43m was spent on CBeebies (2%).
- £8m was spent on BBC ALBA (0.4%).
- £66m was spent on BBC News Channel (3%).
- £10m was spent on BBC Parliament (0.4%).
- £40m was spent on BBC Red Button (2%).
BBC Radio Spending
Now looking more closely at the BBC Radio spend:
- £53m was spent on BBC Radio 1 (8% of BBC Radio spending).
- £61m was spent on BBC Radio 2 (9%).
- £57m was spent on BBC Radio 3 (9%).
- £121m was spent on BBC Radio 4 (19%).
- £67m was spent on BBC Radio 5 Live (10%).
- £5m was spent on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra (1%).
- £10m was spent on BBC 1Xtra (2%).
- £12m was spent on BBC 6 Music (2%).
- £7m was spent on BBC 4 Extra (1%).
- £11m was spent on BBC Asian Network (2%).
- £150m was spent on BBC Local Radio (23%).
- £32m was spent on BBC Radio Scotland (5%).
- £6m was spent on BBC nan Gaidheal (1%).
- £19m was spent on BBC Radio Wales (3%).
- £17m was spent on BBC Radio Cymru (3%).
- £24m was spent on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle (4%).
BBC Online Spending
The £174m figure mentioned earlier is not broken down any further in the Annual Report.
The £357m of other spending includes the following:
- £102m on TV licence fee collection costs (29% of other spending).
- £106m on S4C (30%).
- £7m on BBC Monitoring (2%).
Yes, you read correctly folks - the BBC spends an astounding £102m a year just collecting the TV licence fee.
That statistic alone should sound the death knell of this unfair, outdated and unenforceable form of taxation.