The Guardian newspaper has highlighted a scandal which deserves to be exposed. A reporter spent a day in court as 158 cases of non-payment of the TV licence were heard.
Apparently nearly 200,000 people were prosecuted last year for not paying the £145.50 fee and a tenth of all cases which come before magistrates courts relate to licence non-payments. Presumably each prosecution costs far more than £145.50. Utter madness.
I am a law-abiding citizen and have no time for people who are dishonest. However, as the Guardian reporter discovered, many of the cases she witnessed involved people who were hard up or the defendant’s first language was not English. It has all the hallmarks of an institutionalised injustice of the kind that Charles Dickens would have ridiculed. Critics of the BBC would no doubt jump upon this nonsense to demand the abolition of the licence fee and probably the BBC itself. But even as a proud former employee, increasingly I think the Corporation does itself no favours. As well as being law-abiding I am also very patient, but I get irritated at the number of adverts and promos about itself, its programmes and stars the BBC makes and broadcasts. It must spend a fortune…never mind the irony in that it is advert free – apart from adverts about itself. My irritable meter went down a couple of notches this week when the incredibly patronising Richard Bacon presented his last show on Five Live. Just Nicky Campbell and Alan Green to go.