Boycotting the BBC Licence Fee

In the UK, we have to pay £159 for the privilege of owning a television, to fund the state broadcaster, the BBC. This may have been worthwhile in the 1960s and 1970s, when BBC television was probably the best in the world, but now the drama is woke and unadventurous (the two are not unconnected), the comedy painfully unfunny and – crucial point – the news painfully biased. This is visible most of all in reporting of Israel. I was going to say “Israel and the Middle East,” but the BBC rarely reports anything in the Middle East that can’t be blamed on Israel.

I’m not naturally an angry activist type of person. In fact, my wife says I’m the most law-abiding person she’s ever met. But I’ve just sent the following letter to three Jewish newspapers and five national newspapers:

The BBC continues to shock and anger British Jews with their one-sided and unprofessional reporting of Israel and the current war. From Naftali Bennett being told that Israeli soldiers are “happy to shoot children” earlier this year; to the Al-Ahli Hospital explosion debacle, where the BBC believed the Hamas narrative immediately and implicitly, with no journalistic fact-checking; and from the BBC’s refusal to refer to Hamas as ‘terrorists’ or to clarify that the innocuous-sounding “Gaza Ministry of Health” figures are compiled by Hamas; to the fact that BBC Arabic seems to be a hotbed of antisemites (don’t get me started on Gary Lineker); and now Israel being accused of a “Final Solution” on Question Time, the BBC’s persistent anti-Zionist and sometimes antisemitic bias has grown beyond a joke.

The BBC has consistently ignored letters of complaints from the Jewish community about their reporting of Israel. Even a protest outside Broadcasting House did nothing. Perhaps it is time for a different approach.

I propose a mass boycott of the TV licence by the Jewish community and others angered at the BBC’s reporting. If 10,000 people refused to pay the licence fee, this would cost the BBC over £1.5 million a year. This is a drop in the ocean compared to total TV licence revenue. Much more important than this is the negative publicity that it would bring the BBC if the boycott was publicised on social media and elsewhere. The BBC would be publicly forced onto the defensive, made to justify its editorial decisions in public, rather than in the supercilious private emails with which it usually responds to complaints from members of the Jewish community.

This is, of course, illegal and the Jewish community is known for its law-abiding nature. I feel guilty even suggesting it. But I am at a loss as to what else we can do to get our voices heard by those in charge at the BBC.

About the Author
Daniel Saunders is an office administrator, proofreader and copy editor living in London with his wife. He has a BA in Modern History from the University of Oxford and an MA in Library and Information Management. He blogs about Judaism, Israel and antisemitism at Living Jewishly
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