Friday, April 11, 2008

Taxing the internet to fund t.v.

This is just outrageous. The British government's telecoms watchdog proposes imposing a tax on internet service providers in order to fund television programs nobody watches. This is so stunningly unnecessary and unjust that I'm nearly speechless (or the blog equivalent). In fact, I was so sure that the Daily Telegraph was mistaken that I went to Ofcom's web site where I saw that the report was accurate.
Fourthly, industry funding for public service content could be introduced through levies. President Sarkozy has proposed this as a possible approach for France. It might be possible to introduce levies on providers not currently part of the formal public service broadcasting model, such as broadcasters, equipment sales, internet service subscriptions or UK online content providers.
I didn't read this whole report, but even with a quick breeze through it you see lots of words like "plurality". Plurality is used to mean "competition", but not the kind of competition with winners and losers. No, winning and losing is out because plurality means the average Joe Schmoe has to pay for all sorts of fringe or unwatchable programming that the viewing numbers can't justify.

What makes all this piffle more interesting is that for reasons that are insufficiently explained, internet service providers or television manufacturers should be punished because all this undoubtedly worthwhile, but unwatched, programming needs funding. Why not tax newspapers or video rental shops?

Television is under threat from the internet and that's the problem. The governments are finding it hard to collect money and control the thoughts of people who use the internet. The report mentions frequently how young people use the internet more than t.v.. We can't have that now, can we?

This is so typical of a government quango or civil service response. They can't hold back the flood waters of change, but they're sure going to punish those who insist on it.