New Vision: Liberating the BBC from the Licence Fee

28 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2021

See all articles by Philip Booth

Philip Booth

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Date Written: October 10, 2019


There is a long history of governments restricting competition in broadcasting and changing the definition of public service broadcasting in a way that seems to serve producer interests. The current definition of public service broadcasting used by Ofcom is not coherent. The nature of the broadcast market has changed to such a degree that public service broadcasting should no longer be delivered largely by one institution. Indeed, we should go further: there is no need for specific policy in relation to public service broadcasting. Niche providers are often better than the BBC at ensuring the broadcasting of good quality content to meet minority tastes. The fact that the market for broadcasting is now an international industry means that many artistic, educational and cultural programmes, which might not have been economic in the past, may now be economic and not need subsidy. Changes in technology mean that the current approach to financing, owning, and regulating the BBC is no longer tenable. There is nothing to stop the subscriber-owned mutual from having fully commercial or fully charitable arms for different purposes. This is a common approach for mutual and co-operatives and would also allow the exploitation of the overseas market and a wide array of joint ventures. The BBC should lose its legal privileges and be treated in the same way as all other news and media organisations for competition and other purposes.

Keywords: broadcasting, UK, BBC, television, government regulation, government policy

JEL Classification: L51, L82, M20, M13, F69

Suggested Citation

Booth, Philip, New Vision: Liberating the BBC from the Licence Fee (October 10, 2019). Institute of Economic Affairs Current Controversies No.71, Available at SSRN: or

Philip Booth (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

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