BBC Wonga

It must be clear to everyone that the latest BBC licence fee agreement is going to be the last one. There are now so many distribution channels and alternative sources of programming that the model of one easily-policed channel with one monopolistic supplier is as out of date as bubonic plague.

It must be clear to everyone that the latest BBC licence fee agreement is going to be the last one. There are now so many distribution channels and alternative sources of programming that the model of one easily-policed channel with one monopolistic supplier is as out of date as bubonic plague.

Moreover, the licence is grossly unfair - it's a poll tax, in effect - and doesn't really succeed in its stated aim of keeping the Beeb free from political control (as anyone inside Aunty at the moment will ruefully admit). It would be much fairer on the viewers to pay for the BBC from general taxation (as parts of it are - the World Service lives on postal orders from its uncle in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), but that's even more dangerous - it would be entirely impossible (and wrong) to then exempt it from the sort of management overview that public services as a whole require. It's our money, after all.

So here's a proposal. The BBC gets its dosh from tax, but the oversight comes back to us. Every citizen gets a hundred BBC Points a year, which we can then spend in an online auction for the programming we want - or, for the more involved, buy a seat at online forums for discussion policy and technology.

I can think of ten problems off the top of my head, but as Churchill famously said of democracy in general -- it's a bad system, just the least bad system.