Cost of GBC per household more than twice the UK's TV licence

Dear Sir,

I read Sandra Haynes's letter about the cost of GBC with great interest, as the figure that she quotes, £4.7 million works out at £397 for each of Gibraltar's 11,812 households, more than double the cost of the UK licence fee, currently £150 a year, and even more than the Danish media licence, at £290 a year, which is payable by anyone with an internet-enabled device, although it is to be funded out of taxation instead from this year. 

While she is correct that people in Gibraltar 'have more alternative choices for news, television and radio than ever before', how many of these provide local programming? This does not have to be provided at great public expense, as the Falkland Islands have a privately owned and subscription-funded TV news service, FITV, in a territory with one tenth the population of Gibraltar.

Unlike Gibraltar, people there can receive UK TV channels courtesy of BFBS as well as radio, though not the sports ones, as the local pay-TV operator does have to make some money. I don't know if Ms Haynes listens to BFBS radio in Gibraltar, but if she does, I'd like to point out that this is funded by the Ministry of Defence, which is, in turn, funded by the UK taxpayer, so I am funding something that she may reap some benefit from, even if I do not.

More pertinently, it's small wonder that GBC has been unable to compete when the companies providing these channels do so at a small fraction of the cost of a Sky subscription, or even the UK licence fee, despite suggestions in the King Report that these 'super cheap' and 'no questions asked' service should be replaced by one involving GBC. During my visit to Gibraltar, I was told by one friend that she paid just £90 a year for satellite TV, while one said he paid even less, just £60 a year.

One advantage of the licence fee is that it's easier to avoid paying than income tax - when I discovered that someone I had fallen out with had become a director at the BBC, I cancelled my licence and got rid of my TV, which was ten years ago. However, the bottom line is that if you want TV from outside, you, or the local provider, have to pay the full whack for it.


Ken Westmoreland