A People’s BBC

The licence fee has had its day. The government should decriminalise it, leaving it as a bill like any other. More people are going to give up the tv set and live programmes.

The government should give every licence fee payer a share in the BBC on a stated date. Then the share holder licence payers can decide who should run their People’s BBC and what its strategy should b e. The government could negotiate a contract for the BBC to provide whatever public service broadcasting it thought it needed, which would include the World Service, and pay for this from general taxes. It could alternatively put out to tender the public service work allowing others to bid. We need to see exactly what they think public service broadcasting is and what it costs.

Freed of the licence fee entrapment the BBC would be free to raise new share capital, to take out longer term borrowings, and to exploit its excellent back book of material more effectively. It should aim to become a major world media corporation capable of taking on  the mega stars of the current US dominated media world.

So that it remained British the shares could contain a restriction on sales, only allowing sale to other UK citizens.


  1. Jude
    September 11, 2023

    Brilliant solution!

    1. Peter
      September 11, 2023

      Definitely do not pay for it from general tax. That would be a kick in the teeth for all of us who choose not to pay for a TV licence. It is a solution that some in the BBC suggest as a clever way to get us to pay for it whether we want it or not.

      ‘A People’s BBC’ sounds more socialist than Conservative. Perhaps our host is branching out into comedy.

      1. Donna
        September 11, 2023

        Agreed. If you don’t watch or listen to the Biased Broadcasting Corp, why should you be forced to pay for it.

      2. IanT
        September 11, 2023

        I hardly watch the BBC these days. There are much better Freeview (terrestial) TV & Radio services available these days.

        With regards to fee-paying broadcast services give people a choice. How would the £13.25 a month the BBC currently charges compare with the £9.99 a month for Netflix for instance? Let people decide for themselves. I don’t see why I should pay for services that I don’t use or promote views that I don’t agree with. Whether I’m paying directly or indirectly through taxation is neither here nor there.
        I think we need to accept that the BBC (of memory) is no more. These days it’s just as partial as Sky, GB News, RT or Al Jerreza etc. They all have their own versions of the “Truth”. However, the BBC seems to believe that their version of the truth is the only one we should accept. Unfortunately, I’ve lost faith in them and trust the BBC no more than any of the others. It is informative to watch what news get covered by which channel. The BBC is very good at being ‘economical’ with it’s coverage when things run contary to their preferred narative and clearly promote items that suit their views.

        1. Lifelogic
          September 12, 2023

          “I don’t see why I should pay for services that I don’t use or promote views that I don’t agree with. Whether I’m paying directly or indirectly through taxation is neither here nor there.”


      3. Peter D Gardner
        September 11, 2023

        Agreed but doesn’t the right wing very conservative GB News calls itself the people’s radio?

      4. XY
        September 11, 2023

        Agreed. General taxation or a broadband tax is BBC speak for “make everyone pay it, whether they like it or not”.

        Any solution that forces people to subsidise the BBC, however indirectly, is wrong.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      Just cancel the licence tax completely, not merely decriminalise it. If you want to watch this endless lefty, anti-Brexit and climate alarmist woke drivel then you should have to subscribe and pay for it and not be forced to. The back catalogue surely rightfully belongs to the historic licence fee payers who funded these programmes & not to the BBC and their generally dire and over paid employees! Sell it off and use all the money for tax cuts.

      Of course people should also not be forced to pay for state schools or the NHS should they choose not use them they should get vouchers or tax refunds towards their private provision. Rigged markets create state monopolies, unfair competition and reduce quality, real competition and innovation. We also have government rigged markets in transport, banking, energy, housing, universities, social care…with very damaging results. Government top down socialism from Sunak’s fake Tories & and with even worse to come from Starmer as he buries the party for perhaps 3 terms or even for good once the extend the voting to children.

      1. Peter Parsons
        September 11, 2023

        Because those people who have £50k per year spare to pay school fees at Eton are those most in need of a tax refund.

        1. Martin in Bristol
          September 11, 2023

          LL suggested help for all parents Peter.
          Did you not read it?
          Vouchers for parents to use for their children’s education seems an interesting idea to me.
          Or should the State have a legal monopoly?

          1. Peter Parsons
            September 12, 2023

            I suggest you read the words again. He suggested vouchers or tax refunds purely for those who have the means to pay private school fees, not for everyone.

            As for the state having a legal monopoly on education, the evidence from Finland shows that such an approach can be successful. Maybe if we had fewer senior politicians whose educational background is Eton and the like, the country would be in a better state.

          2. Martin in Bristol
            September 12, 2023

            Where did LL say “purely for those who have the means to pay private school fees”

            Those who decide opt out of state education should get vouchers to use to help them afford private education.

          3. Martin in Bristol
            September 12, 2023

            So you would prevail over a society Peter that legally requires people to have their children educated by the State.
            No options or free choice in your ideal world.
            Very liberal, very democratic…not.

  2. Lynn Atkinson
    September 11, 2023

    Yes this might save it, else it’s a gonner. I might even get a license and a vote.

    1. Hope
      September 11, 2023

      BBC is a Tory propaganda unit and they will never reform or get rid of it. We saw that with covid, Brexit, immigration, climate change, extinction rebellion, BLM, cultural Marxism with diversity garbage etc etc. We had these hoax change proposals for 14 yrs!

      Tories know the public hate to pay for left wing propaganda unit, so they tease with feigned changes that never happened. Dories even failed with Channel 4 as well!

  3. mickc
    September 11, 2023

    An excellent proposal, which will never be adopted. The BBC in its current guise is far too useful a propaganda tool for our rulers to change it.

    1. Everhopeful
      September 11, 2023

      It drips with it. Every word.
      It is unwatchable.
      Just like the C of E I feel it was planning all this from post war onwards.
      Get us to believe in them and then BANG…spring the Marxist trap.

    2. Ian+wragg
      September 11, 2023

      You’ve been in power for nearly 14 years. These things should have been done years ago. The fact that your party got rid of an almost conservative, Truss, explains why we’re in the current mess

      Too little, too late.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 11, 2023

        Indeed not a Conservative PM since Mrs Thatcher and even she totally failed to cut the state back sufficiently, kept the dire state monopoly anti-competitive NHS structure, buried us further into the EU, fell for the CO2 devil gas religion and appointed a damn fool who even failed his maths O level as Chancellor of the Exchequer & then even let him join the ERM and supported him as PM!

        Yet depressingly she was by far the best we had in my 50+ years.

    3. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      This appalling Con-Socialist government has even abandoned plans to privatise the dire lefty Channel 4 in January this year. They clearly want as much pushing of Green crap socialism on TV as possible rather than sell it off and some tax cuts. Or rather fewer tax increases given the Hunt/Sunak tax to death agenda.

  4. Everhopeful
    September 11, 2023

    This govt. is more likely to criminalise us for NOT having a surveillance TV in every room.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      Or sufficient insulation or a smart meter or a wood fire. Wood is only to be burned at Drax it seems.

      1. Everhopeful
        September 11, 2023

        Or having an unchipped cat.
        Or buying more than three new garments per year.
        I heard a theory that out of control immigration is down to politicians having no imagination.
        And being mathematically challenged ( as LL always says)
        (It seems the mayor of NYC has woken up to reality).
        Could MPs maybe just take their eyes off the main chance for an moment and contemplate quietly exactly what they are doing to us.
        JR …blackboard and chalk out the front…
        Tell them what they are doing! Please!!

    2. Ian B
      September 11, 2023

      @Everhopeful +1 agreed, you have to ask why are the Socialist inspired ULEZ tracking cameras primarily storing and collating information on vehicles and people that are not involved in contravening their pollution scam. If you can’t catch the real interlopers, you monitor the innocent in hope that some day just one of them will make a miss-step. The Conservative Governments brave new World

      1. Everhopeful
        September 11, 2023

        Yes! You are right!
        Very much the Chinese way I believe.
        Funny that!

  5. Mike Wilson
    September 11, 2023

    Does the BBC form government policy or reflect it?

    The government is pro EU – so is the BBC

    The government is pro mass immigration – ditto

    The government is pro net zero – ditto

    Who is the tail and who is the dog?

    1. Everhopeful
      September 11, 2023

      Well apparently the BBC has just been given £20m by the govt. ( aka us) to protect (?) the world service and combat disinformation.
      It might be easier and cheaper if they just told the truth.
      Bearing in mind the ease with which CVs can be distorted.

      1. RGrange
        September 11, 2023

        I used to listen to the World Service a lot when I worked abroad. It seems to have changed quite a bit since then.

        Country reports would have been presented in the past by Brits working as foreign correspondents. Now they often seem to be locals in Third World locations. Cheaper, I suppose.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      They are in cahoots the government (under Cameron) chooses dreadful people like Chris Patton as Chairman of the Trust and they respond in kind.

      If you listen to QT or Any Questions the bias on Climate Alarmism, the size of government, tax levels, the huge net harm Covid Vaccines and net harm lockdowns, the “envy of the world wonderful” NHS, private schools, Brexit… is totally overwhelming. If you get one sensible person on the panel you are lucky (and they are shouted down by the other 4. The chair person is needless to say always wrongheaded & BBC think.

      Nearly all presenters at the BBC are art graduates seems to have zero understanding of science or real economics rather like most MPs.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 11, 2023

        Left wing, posh public school art graduates in the main too.

      2. Merrie+qubus
        September 11, 2023

        I have just about stopped listening to Any Questions, the audience is terribly biased. I can‘t believe that they can find such a Left–wing biased audience from a random selection of people. What’s more the panel also has invariably a Left-Wing bias. Why are there always so many minority politicians on the panel. It’s pathetic but no one seems to complain about it.

        1. Lifelogic
          September 12, 2023


  6. Mark B
    September 11, 2023

    Good morning.

    Privatization by the backdoor.

    Personally I am favour of leaving things as they are. Not for any ideological reasons, but for the fact that the BBC is doing a great job of destroying itself. Its refusal to change its funding model is the very thing, thanks to technology, that is killing it. I do not need a TV Tax to watch YouTube. I know that any YT content provider, which nowadays can produce content every bit as good as Auntie but without the Woke and diversity rubbish, can provide me with great entertainment, information and education. I learn cold hard facts about history, science, engineering and world events without it all somehow being my fault and that of climate change, or even BREXIT.

    My advice, Sir John is simple. Stop meddling and trying to create winner, and let the market do what it does best.

    1. a-tracy
      September 11, 2023

      Mark, thats exactly what I thought; just leave it alone and let the public decide as they are now. Just don’t subsidise it and it will adapt and start to sell its programs properly around the world instead of allowing the world to watch for free. They should be able to get the same amount as a Netflix subscription abroad.

      To be honest, I think ITV is more of a turn-off and C4, which I used to watch all the time I barely switch on now. The advertising controllers are just going too far, and they must be lying about the number of watchers to keep it rolling. Even my parents have asked me for a Netflix subscription for their joint Christmas present. They used to have Virgin but it became unaffordable for insufficient quality content.

    2. Rod Evans
      September 11, 2023

      Spot on.

    3. formula57
      September 11, 2023

      @ Mark B – the BBC does seem to be destroying itself (it has missed massive opportunities to beat the likes of Netflix) but your interesting proposal overlooks the risk that when enough of us cease to buy a TV licence the BBC will persuade a compliant government that it needs to obtain its funding still from the same people but by more certain means – so added to all Council Tax bills perhaps and possibly under the guise of paying also for internet infrastructure.

    4. Wanderer
      September 11, 2023

      I half agree. YT is also subject to quite heavy “misinformation fact checking” . It was busy cutting content during the pandemic and putting content producers under intense pressure.

      A service like Rumble provides less edited content, which is why many podcasters are attracted to it.

    5. Denis+Cooper
      September 11, 2023

      As repeatedly pointed out, the BBC is bad but then so too is Sky News.

      I only have to search my files for “SCAB” for items like this to come up:


      “According to SCAB, the Sky Campaign Against Brexit, we actually export nothing outside the EU apart from gold, and Brexit supporters were telling lies when they said we did. I don’t expect any response from the Brexit department or any other part of government. After all although it may be official government policy for the UK to leave the EU there is no reason why the government should ever stoop to defending that policy.”

      How are we going to combat the rising tide of Rejoiner propaganda?

    6. Derek
      September 11, 2023

      Problem is, the BBC does not have to rely upon ‘the market’ as it is funded directly by British people and protected by law. Remove that funding and the market would control their potential income.
      Currently, a total of 435 BBC staff earn in excess of £100K and over 130 of them earn more than the PM. Without the fee income they would not be able to pay out such outrageously high salaries or would they? KI hope we get to find out real soon.

    7. XY
      September 11, 2023

      But the market is skewed by having one member funded by the State.

      Worse, they insist on producing output in every area of life, preventing competition (since competitors cannot compete with the funding or the brand awareness). This is especially true in radio.

      Removing a licence fee *would* actually be how the govt would get out of the way – then the BBC has to make money, so it has to choose carefully which markets it chooses to enter rather than being a guaranteed winner due to State sponsorship.

  7. Everhopeful
    September 11, 2023

    Would the decision as to who would run the PBBC involve VOTING?
    Like the Referendum and the choice of Conservative leader?
    Would we get very far with that?

  8. Lemming
    September 11, 2023

    The BBC is one of the few things about the UK that is admired worldwide. OF COURSE the Conservatives want rid of it. Same as our civil service, judges, Universities, NHS …..

    1. a-tracy
      September 11, 2023

      Lemming, how much is made from that much bigger ‘worldwide’ audience, Do they all pay £159 per year to have access? or do they just use their VPN links and watch for free I’ve seen several Americans brag they do.

    2. a-tracy
      September 11, 2023

      I’ve looked it up on Statista.
      The BBC 31 Mar 2023 saw an income of £5.7bn. £3.7bn attributed to the license fees paid by UK Households.
      It claims BBC1 is watched by 60% of the population weekly. Does that mean 60% of the population is paying for a BBC licence?

    3. Lester_Cynic
      September 11, 2023


      I can’t believe you wrote that!

      That is the EXACT opposite to what is happening

  9. Donna
    September 11, 2023

    I predict the Government will pay attention to Sir John’s invitation to tax the population to pay for its Broadcasting Propaganda Service but will completely ignore the suggestion that they hand control to the British people.

    To save the BBC, it would need a complete clear-out of the current management and production teams, plus the lefty “woke,” climate-change pushing news/presenters.

    You only pay the BBC Tax if you choose to do so. If you don’t watch live broadcast telly you do not need a licence and can put their threatening letters in the bin.

    1. Iago
      September 11, 2023

      They have been sending me threatening letters for about five years now. I used to find them alarming, so stopped reading them. Now I just put them, unopened, directly into the re-cycling.

  10. Old Albion
    September 11, 2023

    How dare you suggest such a thing ! The BBC is wonderful, everybody knows it. We must continue to be criminalised for failing pay it’s fee.
    How will the Green Zealots, woke loony’s, trans idiots, football commentators and all Britain haters get their message across …………..

    1. Everhopeful
      September 11, 2023

      If such a scheme were put in place the greenies etc would just take control at local level.
      They are per se people who have that knack.
      I’ve seen them all my life.
      Even at infant school.
      Student Union was a great place for them.
      Democracy is sometimes called “mob rule”
      But it needs demagogues for the mob to follow.
      And they are generally psychopaths.
      No hope!

  11. John McDonald
    September 11, 2023

    What a good idea. Maybe do the same for Gas, Water and Elecricity and
    public transport. The tax payer can then have a say on how the country’s strategic assets are used to benefit the UK and not overseas investors.

    1. MFD
      September 11, 2023

      Your right John

    2. Lynn Atkinson
      September 11, 2023

      What about the BOE? Now that really would be a private company.

    3. a-tracy
      September 11, 2023

      John, how does the tax payer have a say on how the current strategic assets are used to benefit the UK stakeholders?

      Do we for example get a say on:

      1. the total spent on pilgrims in the NHS – no.
      2. the amount spent on diversity when it is one of the most diverse workforces anywhere and is quite unrepresentative of the UK potential workforce.
      3. the number of beds and what operations should get priority to clear?
      4. even on the food served? no!

      Public ownership gives us no say, on how councils spend and invest.

    4. Michael Dhobi
      September 15, 2023

      I’ve just had a water bill from Severn Trent. The cost of water has risen by over 10% but I suppose that this is to help pay for the CEO’s annual remuneration which exceeds £3.2 million. I should change to another water company – there’s nothing like a free market!

  12. Pud
    September 11, 2023

    We are obliged to purchase a TV licence if we want to watch any station live, regardless of how often. This is the equivalent of being forced to buy a yearly subscription to the Guardian because one wishes to buy one copy of the Telegraph and is clearly unfair.
    Other suggestions for funding, e.g. a broadband tax or general taxation, also fail the unfairness principle of being forced to pay regardless of usage.
    The BBC tells us it must be commercial when paying its presenters huge multiples of licence fees so let them be commercial and fund themselves through advertising for broadcast services. For Web delivery they could have a choice of free with adverts or the option to subscribe and watch advert free. Radio stations use that model.
    The BBC also tells us how popular it is and that it is producing programmes we want to watch. If true, it has no fear of funding without compulsion.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      Indeed it is unfair competition and rigged markets just as we have with the NHS, state schools, universities, housing, energy, transport… The UK state is all about unfair competition and market rigging, vested interests, party donations and often even out and out corruption.

  13. BOF
    September 11, 2023

    There is much to like about these suggestions, but what will the government think about losing their favourite propaganda machine?

  14. Iain gill
    September 11, 2023

    Not sure why someone who has paid TV licence for decades but only stopped paying in the last few years should be denied a share. Just give a share to anyone who has paid license fee in the last 50 years. Or sell the BBC and split the proceeds among all UK taxpayers.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      Indeed and fire nearly all the useless overpaid staff first as it would fetch rather more money then. Or better still just sell of the back catalogue give all the money back to historic licence fee payers and close the main worthless propaganda unit down fully and fire all the staff so they can get productive jobs instead. Do the same to most of the state sector too.

  15. Al
    September 11, 2023

    The other option would be to make the BBC free to watch, licence fee optional, and allow those who pay it to have their say on what type of programs the BBC should make that year – keeps the BBC free of the risk of takeover, without the inevitable need for dividends, prevents them prosecuting non-payers, and allows payers to drop in and out of their say. (And the relevant state departments to fund PSA broadcasts, etc, which are needed but people don’t want to pay for.)

    Allowing people to pay the licence fee in a lump sum for three or five years ahead of time would give the BBC funds that could be invested to let the BBC gain continous income from the interest.

  16. Lifelogic
    September 11, 2023

    Doubtless the Tories before the election will hint at some BBC licence fee abolition proposals before but never deliver just as they did last time! Though is seems this time their chances of a majority (even against the appalling Starmer and Labour) is circa 10% at best. So angry are people about the botched Brexit, net zero and the wasted 80 seat majority plus Sunak’s blatant tax, borrow and piss down the drain, pro EU alignment anti-growth Socialism direction.

    1. Mike Wilson
      September 11, 2023

      So angry are people about the botched Brexit, net zero and the wasted 80 seat majority plus Sunak’s blatant tax, borrow and piss down the drain, pro EU alignment anti-growth Socialism direction.

      As always, you assume everyone thinks as you do. The reason the Tories are about to be wiped out has nothing to do with:

      Brexit – who cares anymore. They screwed it up but only zealots care

      Net zero – you could not be more wrong. Rightly or wrongly, most people buy into it. Some people think the Tories are not serious about it – not the other way round

      Wasted 80 seat majority – ask 100 people how big the Tory majority is. Would 10% know?

      The simple fact is that there is a general perception that the government is useless.

      Roads are in a shocking state
      The NHS is not available
      Police are invisible
      Inflation is high
      The economy is bad

      People are worried about the future – their job, their cost of living, their life. As Mr. Clinton said ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. That’s it, that’s all it ever is. Nothing to do with Brexit or size of majorities or worthless degrees or green crap. Or, even, government debt. Government debt doesn’t internet someone with two kids and a mortgage that has just tripled.

      ECONOMIC INCOMPETENCE – that is why Labour are about to win a landslide.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 12, 2023

        Those points too!

      2. a-tracy
        September 12, 2023

        Perhaps the first cut should be the police commissioners and their departments they have proved to be completely useless, use the money to put more police on the street in shopping centres.

  17. David Bunney
    September 11, 2023

    Absolutely. The BBC should become a subscription service. I continue to pay the license fee not because I watch BBC programs much or live TV much, but rather protection money so the licensing mafia don’t pay me a visit. The amount of hours of live programming I watch each year is in the single digits.

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      September 11, 2023

      They don’t pay you a visit. There are too many legal non-payers and too few of them.

  18. David+L
    September 11, 2023

    I can’t forgive the BBC for simply being a mouthpiece of the Government during the Covid time, and neither questioning nor investigating the quasi-scientific measures being inflicted on us. Their credibility as a serious news provider is severely damaged.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      Indeed but they have had zero credibility for many years now. How long ago was it that they fired David Bellamy just for being a sensible climate realist?

  19. Bloke
    September 11, 2023

    It’s a good sensible suggestion, but this government seems incapable of doing much that’s sensible.
    People are compelled to pay the BBC licence, even watching without a conventional TV set just because their broadcast is live, yet Skype conversations and much other communication is live broadcasting. Technology has advanced leaving the BBC stuck behind their own screen where it remains dull and not worth others attempting to enter.

  20. Narrow Shoulders
    September 11, 2023

    People who go into broadcasting tend to be a certain type with a certain mindset.

    Disney, Netflix, Amazon, ITV, sky – none of these organisations reflect the common man’s thinking so changing the ownership and funding model of the BBC is unlikely to change its outlook and output.

    All the populace can do is stop watching and seek out the quality content that doesn’t come with a message. Top gun and Mission Impossible show that audiences want to be entertained not preached at. The Church’s dwindling audience shows what happens to the preachers.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      The BBC not only preaches but it preaches lies and propaganda in the main. Especially on climate, the Covid vaccines, Brexit, the economy, the dire NHS, tax levels…

      1. Jim+Whitehead
        September 11, 2023

        LL, +++++. Succinct as usual and right on the mark

    2. a-tracy
      September 12, 2023

      NS – what happens is that you enter these professions and may be of a different mindset but soon enough you realise to keep your mouth shut, your head down and don’t discuss anything contrary to the group’s thinking. In fact just avoid all political discussions about anything, oh I’m not interested in politics if you want keep your job too much power at the top of the organisation to buck against it.

  21. Bryan Harris
    September 11, 2023

    If the BBC had to survive on less income, no matter where it came from the BBC would surely become less woke and obstructive to reality.

    I’d prefer to see the BBC closed down though – It has had it’s day, and would take a major earthquake to really change it from it’s propagandising ways – The establishment, corporations and HMG find it too useful though, that is why nothing will happen to the BBC.

    The BBC will continue to put out the hype and misinformation about climate change, covid and a host of other topics to keep us in line with government narratives.
    Junk soaps, flashy overpaid actors/celebrities are all the BBC can offer in entertainment – the rest is pure indoctrination.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 11, 2023

      +1 even their soaps like Eastenders and the Archers are stuffed with misguided and woke lunacy on Diversity over ability, Brexit and Climate indoctrination! As is the Proms!

      1. Bryan Harris
        September 11, 2023

        Yes, everything falls under their woke agenda.

  22. Geoffrey Berg
    September 11, 2023

    The BBC license fee is nonsense. There are plenty of media channels (lately GB News and Sky News) that operate without a license fee – Italy had 40 channels without a fee. The BBC would probably then go out of business but so what? One less channel dedicated to broadcasting fashionable woke political left bias rather than quality programmes (for example amid continually calling Donald Trump a liar and slating him they have not objectively analysed why and how Donald Trump beat 17 professional politicians to the Republican nomination in 2016 and has virtually crushed Ron de Santis and a dozen others on his way to the Republican nomination and I think the Presidency again four months before even the first vote has been cast in 2024) is no loss to the world. Indeed it would be a considerable expense removal from most British households.

  23. Iain gill
    September 11, 2023

    The lefty woke BBC has spies in more high places than the Chinese government, and are also active against the British people.

  24. agricola
    September 11, 2023

    Nice idea SJR but.
    Like the historical past when citizens got shares from utility sell offs they would cash them in and the buyer might be UK citizens, but ones with vested interests. What if the vested interests were the same ones that skew the BBC output today.
    I agree that it must be ring fenced against foreign ownership. Other than that let it swim in the commercial world, either on advertising or subscrption income or both.

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      September 11, 2023

      JR said that.

    2. outsider
      September 11, 2023

      Good point Agricola. Sir John’s scheme sounds like Russian privatisation under Yeltsin. Each person ( 24 million licence tax payers in this case) gets one share free, with negligible financial or voting value and some smart young lads traipse from door to door, buy them up for peanuts, aggregate them and become super-rich oligarchs.

      1. a-tracy
        September 12, 2023

        Why should someone that has been paying the BBC licence fee for 50 years get the same share as someone only paying a licence fee for 1 year, see what I did there; nothing is fair about it.

  25. Everhopeful
    September 11, 2023

    How about if we could just buy a TV, preferably with “On”/ “Off” knobs rather than lengthy entry contortions.
    Then those who wish to broadcast their material can blast it out onto the airways and fund it in whatever way is suitable.
    Then we might have a little choice and no censorship.
    I seem to remember having a huge revolving satellite dish with multiple no sub channels. The only cost was the cost of the device and installation.( We still paid BBC licence though).
    That of course had to be stopped. It didn’t make for control.

  26. Roy Grainger
    September 11, 2023

    Good idea. Now all we need is a political party who will pursue this option because it certainly isn’t the Conservatives who have had enough time and a parliamentary majority to have changed the way the BBC is run and they haven’t done it.

  27. Ian B
    September 11, 2023

    The licence fee as it is called, fail to pay it whether you use the service or not is a criminal offence. So a little honesty is called for, it is just ‘TAX’. Taxes levied on people that then can have no say, are disenfranchised, should in themselves be a criminal offence.

    That of course goes the same for all the Governments distribution of our taxes, if there is no responsibility, no accountability, attached, that money should then be deemed to be fraudulently obtained, therefore a criminal activity.

    This Conservative Government has and extreme bad habit of just forcibly taking our money then giving it away to those without democratic oversight ever being attached.

  28. Rod Evans
    September 11, 2023

    Only allow sales to other UK citizens?
    That is straight out of the current BBC nanny knows best ethos.
    Now if you had suggested no individual share holder should be allowed to hold more than one percent of shares that might make sense.
    Better still just make the BBC a PLC.

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      September 11, 2023

      Nobody allowed to hold more than 1 share. No corporations or institutions allowed hold a share.

  29. oldwulf
    September 11, 2023


    This is the 21st century
    We are bombarded with “content”.
    Why does the BBC receive special treatment ?

    “The government could negotiate a contract for the BBC to provide whatever public service broadcasting it thought it needed …”

    Presumably the Government could decide what public service broadcasting was needed …. and then put the contract out to tender ?

  30. Mike P Jones
    September 11, 2023

    The licence system in fact hampers the BBC as much as it supports it. The whole business model is obsolete and should be abolished. The organisation would probably need to be broken up, leaving a core rights holder owned by licence payers, past and present.
    I would hate to see the PROMS and Radio 3 go, and would be happy to pay a fee to retain that part of the corporation. As far as I’m concerned, the rest can be ditched.

    1. forthurst
      September 11, 2023

      The PROMS have already gone and so has Radio 3.

  31. Everhopeful
    September 11, 2023

    =Abolish licence fee.
    Buy and OWN receptor with no interference whatsoever.
    “You will own nothing and be happy” originally meant that you would HIRE all household goods, not have to pay for repairs etc. and thus be happy.
    Now we can see that via “Smart” they want to be able to turn our appliances off if too much energy is being used.

    1. Iago
      September 11, 2023

      Speaking of compulsory wifi transmission, I wish people would switch off their wifi routers at night and not leave them on continuously. I live in a block of flats and have quite suddenly found myself unable to sleep properly.

      1. a-tracy
        September 12, 2023

        I have sympathy, Iago I always turn off my wifi router because of the sound pitch it emits.

    2. APL
      September 11, 2023

      Everhopeful: “Now we can see that via “Smart” they want to be able to turn our appliances off if too much energy is being used.”

      Some people figured ‘SMART’ as in s.m.a.r.t meter, was not a tool of convenience, as we have been led to believe. But of control. Demand management – if because of incompetence, the National generating board can’t produce enough electricity: should we generate more? Why no, just tell the smart meters to shut off the supply.

      Presto! no more demand!

      And just lately, the government has made it lawful for the electricity company to break into your house and force the installation of a ‘smart meter’.

      1. a-tracy
        September 12, 2023

        SMART motorways are worse, just last Saturday we were told to slow to 60, 50, 40 because of a supposed obstruction in the road, We travelled two junctions nothing in the road, one bright spark taxi driver undertook everyone doing 70 mph. Its dangerous not smart.

  32. ChrisS
    September 11, 2023

    The Luvvies will definitely not like this idea ! Which is why it’s such a good one.

    The board of directors would have to be elected by the shareholders so it would be unlikely that the corporation could continue in its traditional left-leaning direction. Bring it on.

  33. Ian B
    September 11, 2023

    “an independent panel, appointed by the Government” isn’t that a contradiction?

    A bit like the BBC’s QT a panel made up of 1 Conservative and 4 Left wing Socialists. Then having a questionnaire interrogated audience with the same mix of political beliefs.

    That is not unbiased that is pushing a view. Although, even in the way audiences are compiled nowadays having one that gets to reflect society would be impossible. Society would be improved by banning so-called reality television shows(they are not current affairs of news) .

  34. Linda Brown
    September 11, 2023

    This is privatisation by the back door. I cannot see you restricting ownership to British people only as many people have dual passports so how do you classify them? The BBC, like many institutions in this country, needs to be completely dismantled and start up from scratch. This would cause havoc and they would lose a lot of fed up people (me included) on the way but so be it. We have long term problems in this country which we need to junk and rebuild but have we the calibre of people to do it now? There seems to be a pot of failures which keep being pushed around into the top jobs (government included) who are in it for the money and do not have the qualifications or creative elements to run anything so they need to be junked first.

    1. Ashley
      September 11, 2023

      Start with Grant Shapps, Hunt and Sunak please.

    2. margaret
      September 11, 2023

      All these make a quick buck reformists need to look at the mess created by them in the NHS . Trying to make staff their servants , dumbing down skills and knowledge in the supposition that a degree from the right university will enable them to practice high skills requiring intelligence not gained from reading but an inherent ability to analyse , prioritise and recognise what cannot be taught and apply it to people .Look who is taking over and spoiling things.!

    3. Lynn Atkinson
      September 11, 2023

      If you scrapped the BBC why on earth would you rebuild it?

    4. APL
      September 11, 2023

      “I cannot see you restricting ownership to British people only as many people have dual passports so how do you classify them? ”

      The civil service doesn’t care about dual nationality, so why should we? It turns out that many ‘civil servants’ have been ‘working from home’ while drawing a British civil servant’s salary. Nothing odd about that, you might say.

      Except, ‘working from home’ includes locations scattered around the globe. Almost, anywhere, but the United Kingdom!

  35. Mark J
    September 11, 2023

    The BBC hasn’t been fit for purpose for quite a long time.

    It claims not to be bias, however time and time again it proves it is – in the areas of pro EU, anti British, anti Conservative, woke ideals, net zero and continually pandering to minority fringes.

    I do not expect this of a national broadcaster that I’m forced to pay for.

    If the BBC cannot truly become free of bias and start reporting in a way representative of everyone, then the licence fee should definately be scrapped.

    The ‘BBC Studios’ arm also needs looking at and greater public scrutiny. It seems this ‘private’ arm of the BBC is used to hide where large amounts of our money is spent, including the pay of many top stars and executives. What the BBC doesn’t seem to grasp in their utter arrogance is that this ‘private’ arm of the BBC was funded with public money.

  36. MikeP
    September 11, 2023

    There must be at least 6 channels, like Yesterday, Dave, Gold, Drama as well as Box Sets that replay BBC programmes daily. How much more are you expecting them to exploit their back catalogue?

  37. Bert+Young
    September 11, 2023

    The BBC is a defunct organisation . It no longer represents British values . Apart from the weather presentation there is nothing I want to watch . The Licence Fee is unjustified and should be abolished . Variety and standards of Broadcasting are more than adequately available from other existing Channels – their costs covered without a direct charge to the viewers .

  38. Mark+Thomas
    September 11, 2023

    Sir John,
    The BBC’s TV Licence/tax funding is based on squeezing money from the poor to waste on the rich. This can’t go on.
    In my opinion the simplest solution is the Sky model. News and arts programmes free to view and anything else by subscription.
    In Australia the ABC is funded from general taxation. So every taxpayer pays. Au$1 billion a year to fund an organisation that is even more woke, more left wing and more extreme than even the BBC.

  39. Christine
    September 11, 2023

    Take away the draconian law whereby people are restricted from watching other channels. Then make the remaining license fee payers into shareholders with the right to vote on how it is run, who runs it and the salaries paid. Also, stop their ridiculous subsidy of the left-wing Guardian newspaper.

  40. MFD
    September 11, 2023

    On a different subject Sir John. Our prime minister last week gave away £2.6 Billion pounds to the climate fraud! Where is that money coming from, we already are a basket case.
    I hope this action means the end of his rule, this foreigner should never have been allowed to stand for parliament never mind get the post of PM

    1. Paul cuthbertson
      September 11, 2023

      MFD _ one should ask “to where is the money going”?? and it aint climate.

  41. Know-Dice
    September 11, 2023

    I object to paying the BBC in order that I can watch ANY live TV or ANY live streaming.

    The BBC now needs to stand on its own two feet, whether that be a subscription service or any other financing arrangement.

    The current arrangement is just wrong…

  42. Denis+Cooper
    September 11, 2023

    Don’t forget to watch the launch of the BBC Rejoin campaign this evening at 9 pm on BBC Two this evening.

    Or you can watch it here now, provided of course that you have a TV license (I think):


    I ask again, Sir John, what are we going to do to combat this rising tide of Rejoiner propaganda? Just give up?

    1. Denis+Cooper
      September 11, 2023

      Regarding one point in that programme, the unnecessary general election in 2017, it is worth googling for:

      “The Observer has learned that May took the fateful decision to call the election having been urged to do so by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker”

  43. Kenneth
    September 11, 2023

    I agree that the BBC should be privatised (as soon as possible) but I do not trust the current government to commission its output.

    This would result in the the BBC continuing to pump out socialist propaganda. Anyone currently consuming the World Service will assume we are all socialists and we all worship th NHS. The current government would allow that to continue.

    The Conservative Party needs to deselect the socialists in government. A proper Conservative party could have BBC privatisation as a manifesto pledge in the resulting election.

  44. Robert Miller
    September 11, 2023

    Spot on

  45. Derek
    September 11, 2023

    “The Licence Fee has had its day”. LOL -The BBC has had its day, and ‘in spades’.
    First: It should be stripped of its title for its MO is now anti-British as has been he case for decades and still they get away with it. Anti-Brit? How and why is that allowed? It therefore appears the Culture Secretary is a toothless tiger when it comes to the BBC. What hold have they over our elected representatives?
    Yes, they should to be turned into a proper commercial Broadcaster and rely upon subscriptions and not the ‘fee’, because it is more a tax as not paying is a criminal charge.
    Only when they are made totally responsible for their own income can they realise what Broadcasting is about. Satisfying enough customers to attract their subscriptions to pay their way and lets see them being able to cover the £1M salaries then!
    With a fee income over £3 Billion all the BBC can do is promote the EU and denigrate all things British, it is definitely time for them to come down to earth. British earth.

  46. Keith from Leeds
    September 11, 2023

    Sir John,
    An interesting proposal for the Biased Broadcasting Corporation. But it begs the question, after 14 years of so-called “Conservative” government, why has it not been done? Yet again, we have had talk about it and the sale of Channel 4, but no action. That sums up this useless Government.
    We need a PM and Chancellor, actually and every single Minister, who are doers, not talkers.
    It would be a good idea to write your diary, listing what was promised in the 2019 Manifesto, and then state whether it has been achieved or not!

  47. margaret
    September 11, 2023

    When you change a system , the work involved is extremely costly. As a conservative trying to conserve what we have, as a British people should come first. Why do you and all others want to ruin anything British? Don’t you realise that you ae destroying your own heritage or don’t you care. I have a relative who has just left following many years employed by the BBC as a consultant. The agitators were already there trying to break it up . God help us with what it will be replaced with. Traitors.

  48. margaret
    September 11, 2023

    Language skills have become difficult . It is not just the words but how they are put together , what is left out and how words defer and refer to each other. These are comprehension skills.

  49. Donna
    September 11, 2023

    Off topic.

    The new OBR Advisory Panel is stuffed with Remainers and Left-wingers who support high taxes. There’s a surprise (not).

    Any hope of the Blue-Green Socialists in Government vetoing it? Of course not.

  50. forthurst
    September 11, 2023

    JR appears to have overlooked the fact that for the majority of British people, the nearest they have to deities on this Earth are footballers. Consequently, were his ideas be put into practice he could look forward to an omnipresent Gary Linekar.

  51. RichardP
    September 11, 2023

    I don’t use any services from the BBC because it doesn’t represent “my values”. I don’t want to fund the BBC directly through the Television Tax or indirectly through general taxation. I certainly wouldn’t want to own shares in an organisation like the BBC.
    Back in 1967 I preferred to listen to Radio Caroline through the GPO jammer rather than the ghastly Radio 1. Since then the BBC has got much worse.

  52. agricola
    September 11, 2023

    In southern Spain I had a 2.4 mtr. dish pointed at the Sky satellite and a herringbone aerial pointed at the Spanish transmitter. By paying the Sky subscription I could watch anything I chose. Had I got around to buying a smart tv I could have watched the lot and more via optically cabled internet. Technically the whole scene was changing frequently so I can only guess at the present options. I found that GBNews gave the best news and by far the most balanced political opinions from a spectrum of commentators, leaving you to form your own opinions. Effectively the BBC cancelled themselve by being politically and new nett zero blatantly biased. Their thread themes even found their way intothe Archers and Country File. Well on the way to Goebbellian broadcasting for those who can remember.
    I would find a Lord Reith lookalike and give him The BBC World Service to run and cast the rest to commerce. Problem is that so much of what the BBC broadcasts is in line with consocialism that the government are happy to leave them to it. When it comes to the next election and the current government begins thinking it is Conservative again, the BBC will find the message so distasteful they will be derided. By then it will be too late, if it is not already.

  53. Jackie McMahon
    September 11, 2023

    If only the government of the day had put a restriction, as you suggest the BBC could have, on the resale of Water company, Electricity company etc. shares, we would not be subject to the predations of foreign investors.

    Reply We did put in Golden shares allowing blocks on foreign takeover but these were subsequently cancelled, probably with EU encouragement

    1. hefner
      September 13, 2023

      ´Golden shares lose glitter’, 05/06/2002, theguardian.com.

      papers.ssrn.com, ‘Golden shares: State control in privatised companies: Comparative law, European law and policy aspects’, 23/07/2003, 37 pp.

      politico.eu, 19/07/2005, ´Golden shares still common currency across the Union’,

  54. APL
    September 11, 2023

    “The government should give every licence fee payer a share in the BBC on a stated date. ”

    On the contrary, the BBC should be shut down ( like the steelworks and coal mines, before it ) the buildings associated with it bulldozed and the ground salted, to make sure nothing like it can ever spring up there again.

    The rights to it’s archive, which the BBC has negligently mismanaged, could be privatized, as it seems to still generate a revenue stream. That income could be distributed to licence fee holders.

    The BBC has acted as a cultural acid, corroding anything that could be identified as British.

    Nor should we forget that the BBC too has acted to protect and conceal the repulsive activities of people like Jimmy Savile, not to mention numerous other instances when you’d have thought a news agency would have been in the vanguard of reporting issues of interest to the British public, but oddly, not the BBC.

    Good riddance.

    1. Paul cuthbertson
      September 11, 2023

      APL – +1000. The BBC is not fit for purpose.

  55. Mark
    September 11, 2023

    The BBC thinks it owns the people. However, trust in them has been declining rapidly: they are no longer the most trusted news source. A poll by YouGov in the spring had them on a net trust score of 22, 4th behind the FT, ITV and C4. So even among lefties their reputation is tarnished.

    The quality of their output across the board has suffered greatly from their insistence on lacing everything with their own propaganda. It makes it unattractive. I do not miss their output amid the frequent complaints I hear from others.

    Best to bundle the back catalogue from the days when it managed to inform and entertain into a rights management company (no woke editing of content – let it tell its own stories), and close the rest. Something better is sure to spring up – it could hardly be worse.

  56. outsider
    September 11, 2023

    Dear Sir John,
    Your proposal is perhaps too radical and unrealistic. How could 24 million individual “shareholders” decide what the BBC should do and how it should it? Can you think of any public company or large supposedly democratic organisation (eg Co-op, National Trust , Conservative Party) where that actually happens? Even if the shareholding structure remained stable (highly unlikely), the government of the day would be providing most of the funds and would therefore be in control, which might or might not be an improvement.

  57. Peter D Gardner
    September 11, 2023

    Before privatising the BBC as suggested by Sir John, something needs to be done to end the dominant ESG influences in the corporate world. Otherwise it would become even more woke and lefty than it is already and, as a commercial entity, entitled to adopt whatever political biass it chooses.

    The back catalogue should not be passed over to the new entity. I imagine Sir John has in mind the entertainment side of the BBC. But the BBC also has a priceless store of historic recordings, for example of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Sir Robert Scott the explorers, the first King’s speech broadcast live, the first Promenade concerts with Sir Henry Wood, and many others. These should be retained in the ownership of the state on behalf of the public and made freely available to the public. I haven’t given it much thought but the British Film Institute might be worth considering as a model or, perhaps, as the future custodian of these historic recordings.

    Another consideration is the future of the BBC orchestras of which the BBC SO is one of the leading orchestras of the world. It would be a great loss were this orchestra to be subject to the uncertainty of a fully commercial future.

  58. SimonR
    September 11, 2023

    Sir John, your last point is the pertinent one for me – a privatised BBC would be in foreign hands exceedingly quickly. Not sure whether your stipulation would be enough to see that prevented. I would be happy if the license fee were a form of shareholding and there were dividends each year. I agree completely that the BBC should aim to be a global media player, but I am not against a form of public ownership for it.

    Regarding the last thread’s point about Net Zero, I think making Net Zero the responsibility of the Energy department is a key strategical error. Advances toward Net Zero are not necessarily going to be found in reduction in energy use or use of renewable energies. Making Net Zero an energy problem is what’s so damaging. It should be made its own department, working across Government departments, and the Energy security department should be just that.



  59. XY
    September 11, 2023

    I fear that your solution may have flaws.

    What happens when a UK citizen, who is also a Chinese citizen, buys up all the shares after they open on the exchange?

    Perhaps you limit ownership of the shares to, say 3% of the total? And only for “non-associated” individuals?

    It gets complicated when you start to define all the things that could be done.

    However, once out of public funding, the channel has to give people reasons to watch/listen/read its output. We have seen though how dangerous the Russian propaganda machine can be – and how dangerous a left wing-slanted media is (i.e. the current BBC). People have to notice and sadly most people are not equipped to do that.

    Getting the safeguards right is key – breaking up the BBC may be essential. Especially if you wish to continue a state news channel (in which case, how do you solve the bias problem?).

    Reply Normal takeover rules would apply giving the authorities opportunity to intervene

  60. XY
    September 11, 2023


    The current rugby world cup being on ITV exclusively is a good thing. With so many people choosing not to have a TV licence, they would be unable to see any matches on BBC (since their catch-up iPlayer now requires a licence). I feel that no sport should give its content to the BBC in the current situation.

    This is symptomatic of an underlying problem. When the licence was first introduced, it allowed the viewer to see all content that was produced for TV – sportm, news, documentary, drama, fiction etc etc. Everything.

    Then sport drifted away to subscription channels, drama was produced by other providers… in the end what we get for £159 a year is a very small proportion of what is produced – and an even smaller proportion of what’s worth watching.

    The TV licence model has not aged well with these developments. Nobody really noticed when they were paying BBC to watch ITV, then Ch4, then Ch5… but as they see Amazon, Netflix, Sky and dozens of other providers now in the market, they are entitled to notice that what they get for tehir money is not very much, if anything at all.

    In relative terms, in market share terms, in terms of % of total output, the BBC is a much smaller player than it was when the licence was introduced. There are now many people who never watch BBC content, from choice, so the model needs to change. Being unable to watch other content without paying the BBC is ridiculous. Some of us *hate* having to watch the rugby world cup on catch-up to avoid paying for something we don’t use.

    Reply You need a licence to watch Live tv whoever broadcasts it

    1. It doesn't add up...
      September 13, 2023

      However the ITV catch up service does not. It’s possible to enjoy a rugby match by watching afterwards if you keep away from the result.

  61. Mike Wilson
    September 12, 2023

    I haven’t got a licence. I don’t want a share – if feel complicit if I owned a share.

  62. a-tracy
    September 12, 2023

    If the government owns it, don’t we by default, own it anyway?
    Why doesn’t your government just force it to make half its income from international licence sales?
    We would get no more say on content than we have now if we were shareholders.
    Your government couldn’t even conclude the C4 sale, there is no will behind what you would like. However, if people continue to stop watching C4, advertising revenue will drop because I just don’t believe the figures of viewers now just observing what family and friends are watching and talking about.

    I’d be more worried about the advertising board if I were you John, they have too much power to decide how adverts are to be filmed, what channels they support and which they don’t. Who gave them that power?

  63. margaret
    September 12, 2023

    Last night’s BBC 4 was brilliant. We had the brilliant Lucy Worsley with a programme about Queen Ann and her achievements which were strategically overshadowed by the Duke of Marlborough and his wife. Then we went over to the Sky at night with Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock explaining the VLT .. What a programme. The end of my viewing was an interesting profile of Teddy Heath which made me warm to him more and his ethical stance plus the way he presented himself with brief honesty. If it goes over to the masses it will be come Dine with me or similar.

    1. Mike Wilson
      September 13, 2023

      I don’t care how brilliant it was. I don’t want to pay a licence to the BBC so I can watch live television on Sky – or from any other provider. I don’t pay a licence to SSE so I can get electricity from Octopus. Or pay Ford to buy a Nissan. Why should I pay the BBC for nothing?

Comments are closed.