The Truman Show (1998) often cuts to montages of viewer reactions to Truman’s unscripted story. Towards the end, most are delighted at the outcome but the emotional engagement of the majority is underlined by one of the responses: “So, what else is on?”. This morning, with the BBC’s iPlayer service now requiring a TV licence, I am left with a similar question: “So, what else?”.
I am still an anomalous blip in UK statistics by never having had a TV licence – quite legally, I hasten to add, as I’ve never had a TV or watched live broadcasts online which required one. In recent years, the bubble of people without licences has greatly increased although I think it is a small minority (2% is the figure I think I heard on the radio this morning). Still, that is a large number of people who are faced with the same question today.
Meanwhile, the wider question is whether this will see more people getting licences? Instead, they might turn to other services or simply get a little time back to spend on other activities. The BBC is hoping it will plug a gap in their licence fee income but I don’t think this is a certain outcome. I am planning to resist the lure for a while although I’m not saying never. However, I might look at another short-term subscription to NetFlix or perhaps it might be a good time to try Amazon Prime (streaming video programmes and other benefits). If the BBC wants to keep in the game, it might need to offer shorter term licences or per programme subscriptions.
Time will tell. Or, perhaps a more appropriate cliché would be wait and see?