Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Have you paid your PC License fee?

Another story which is nearly a year old but gathering momentum concerns the BBC and the government waking up to the idea that digital could threaten the way people access television specifically through broadband and using computers instead of television sets.

The article appeared on the Register.

Now I know more than one person who does not own a television but routinely uses their entertainment centre PC to play video games, watch movies or hook in to digital TV via a TV card, and they can of course claim legitimately not to posess a television if there is a knock on the door.

To move that though to a blanket PC tax which is given to the BBC sounds like a very long leap to me. I mean the BBC didn't invent the Internet, nor are they guardians of the web. True, they do have a very good website but a lot of people have good websites.

It does start to look like yet another example of large organisations who don't understand what they are dealing with trying to make a buck out of the Internet and holding back its overall propogation throughout the UK. I'm seeing this in the same way that BT refused to give out free Internet access points on dialup in the early days, which led to me and many other early adopters paying enormous telephone bills. Meantime our counterparts in the US were getting their standard local call rates (usually a flat fee), and consequently the Web in the US had a much larger percentage audience than the UK for ages.

Broadband is the most exciting thing that could have happened to the UK for Internet and braodcast media and it's fast spread through the UK will mean that companies can create ever more appealing applications for it. If the audience growth is slowed down, then the profits will be later. Similarly someone else from overseas will develop the applications and them launch them here removing what could be a British success story. Why don't people get it? The essential thing is to get absolutely everyone on broadband as quickly as possible, so that British companies can create money for Britain. Anything that slows that down is shooting the country in the foot.

Of course the problem of how to fund the BBC doesn't go away, and possibly paid for content or opening them up to advertising is the answer. Other alternatives would be to tax PC Cards rather than the PC itself, or Digi Boxes, or directly tax the feed provider such as NTL and Sky. but this particular suggestion really isn't the answer.

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