BBC Television Centre autostitch
Image by ➨ Redvers via Flickr

Former Guardian editor Peter Preston is indeed ‘on the money’ in today’s Observer, voicing opinion on arguably the issue in PSB (public service broadcasting) right now – that the UK’s controversial TV licence-fee, which pays for the BBC and other public service content, will have to make the move online.

Currently, you don’t need to fork out for a TV licence to watch iPlayer content, but you do need one if you watch live content as it’s being shown on TV – meaning live streams of the BBC’s digital channels, available from the  coporation’s site, already do fall under the current system. However, it’s the iPlayer that is the big one, and as more and more people switch to watching purely online content, the Beeb is quickly going to find all those people claiming they don’t need a licence, really don’t, legally, need a licence.

But when it comes to the crucial role of journalism in a liberal-democracy, Preston’s final point rings very true indeed. ‘The best things in life can’t be free’, he says. When it comes to journalism, good journalism, meagre advertising rates will not be enough to support this costly exercise in a world where no-one wants to pay for their news. It’s surely only a matter of time until a radical reworking of the licence-fee is undertaken.

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