I lived with a friend in the UK for awhile and he always told me that if the guy from the ‘detector van’ came knocking to just tell him to go get stuffed. What’s the point of these things if they have no authority?
A dector van wasn’t involved. They send out warning letters and threats of fines to any address they come across that doesn’t have a licence. I don’t know why they insist on doing this, they’re for ever getting into trouble about harrassing people who are guilty of nothing except not owning a TV.
The onus is on them to prove you have a TV and do not own a licence in court, so these letters and threats of fines are just fishing exercises.
This was one thing that surprised me when I was in the UK several years ago. As I understand, there is a tax on every TV and radio which is one of the major funding sources for the BBC. They have electronically equipped vans roaming the streets which can detect unlicensed sets and authorities can fine the owners.
All broadcast and cablecast television is paid for entirely by:
b) user fees (pay per view and such), and
c) taxes - in conjunction with discretionary donations from private citizens and corporations in the case of the PBS (Public Broadcasting System). The Corporation for Public Broadcasting holds sway over both public radio and television and PBS the is the arm of CPB that controls television broadcasting. CPB appropriates approximately 250 million federal tax dollars for use by PBS (which is about 15% of PBS’s total revenues); PBS also receives about 300 million state tax dollars and nearly $70 million in federal grants and contracts.
“And viewers like you.”
Or, like me, at least. Well, that’s not entirely true, either, as I give my money directly to WGBH and bypass the CPB.
In addition to watching WGBH all the time, about 5 years ago we started listening to WBUR (local NPR station) on the way to work each morning. The last 20 minutes of Morning Edition and the first 15 minutes of BBC Newshour each day gives you a good overview of the news (it was actually on NPR that we first heard about the planes hitting the WTC - they interrupted BBC Worldnews to break the news).
Anyway, about a week after we started listening, we received a pledge request in the mail from WBUR. The letter started: “We know you listen…” Eek! We were so weirded out we pledged. I know it was just a coincidence, but we’d never received a solicitation before, so we just went with the flow.
I just wanted to make the distinction that c. only pays for one network, the PBS TV/radio network. PBS has a lot of educational and cultural programming, and is known by most Americans as being the home of the excellent children’s programs Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (RIP, Fred Rogers). As mentioned by others, they also do fundraising to viewers, and get grants from certain corporations. This is ad-free television, so at the end of shows you will merely hear things like “_______ was brought to you by donations from _________ Corporation and _________ Corporation.”
If you do not have cable television, you do not pay via method b., and so the vast majority of your viewing (the major networks in your area, probably the big 3 of NBC, CBS, and ABC, plus possibly Fox, WB, and/or UPN) is paid for purely through advertising.
If you have cable, I assume a certain amount of your bill may go to cable networks, otherwise it’s still mostly advertising, plus any pay-per-view shows you may watch.
First, the cable companies carry local network affiliates. The affiliates (and networks) are supported entirely through advertising. Generally, they pay cable companies to carry them, in order to expand their audience to places in their market with lousy reception.
Then there are the national cable channels, which are only available on cable. In some cases, they pay cable companies to carry them in order to increase their audience. In other cases, cable companies pay them in order to increase their product. Some channels have both kinds of deals going on simultaneously in markets that are right next to each other. Most of these channels are also ad-supported.
Then there are premium cable channels. These have no ads, and are supported by subscriber fees. The premium channels contract with the cable providers to charge a certain amount for various bundles packages of channels. The premium channels get a percentage of the subscriber fees and a flat license fee from the cable provider to carry their channel.
Then there’s pay-per-view, which is usually a service provided by the cable providers themselves.