Monday, October 17, 2011

Mandatory funding for public media?

In the UK, residents need to pay a TV Licensing Fee in order to watch television. Seriously. No, it's not cable you're paying for -- you pay a private company for those services. It is the LAW, that you must pay for a TV License if you watch live broadcasts, even if you only watch them on your mobile phone.

Not surprisingly, the TV Licensing folks are pretty suspicious and doubtful when you tell them you do not, in fact, have a television. We, por ejemplo, do not own a television, nor do we watch any live programming on our laptops. I had to send in a "Declaration" swearing we are exempt, and I'm hoping that's the end of it. I've heard stories of them knocking on doors and looking through windows just to be sure no one is just trying to cheat.

The funny thing is that I would probably willingly PAY the license if it wasn't mandatory. Apparently, the fee basically funds the BBC programming, and I love the BBC. I particularly adore the radio dramas, but truthfully, aside from Twitter, the BBC is usually my first sphere of news -- even though I generally listen to the BBC News via WFPL.org.

On that note, I just made a non-mandatory-just-because-I-feel-I-should donation to Louisville Public Media. Perhaps you, too, should take note that American public broadcasting is constantly in danger of losing its funding. I'm guessing the chances of passing a LAW making it mandatory to pay for public radio if you own a radio is, well, out of the question. (Ah, the ol' Public Goods Game.) So maybe everyone should just donate to your local public radio station from the goodness of your heart? In honor of your freedom?

Cue Lee Greenwood (because you will NEVER hear this on WFPK).

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