Save your £150 BBC license fee and invest it in an independent Welsh media instead

A child watching a TV. Picture by Mojzagrebinfo

Steffan Gwent

This year activists from the Welsh Language Society – Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg – were taken to court for non-payment of the TV licence as part of a campaign to have broadcasting devolved to Wales.

I am proud to say that I have an aunt that went to jail decades ago for non-payment of a TV licence as part of a Cymdeithas yr Iaith campaign.

More than 70 people are currently refusing to pay their license fee as part of Cymdeithas’ campaign. They want to see broadcast media devolved to Wales.

I greatly admire all those people who have campaigned for Welsh media rights and made such sacrifices. It’s a campaigning tactic which has worked.

Gwynfor Evans with his threatened hunger strike forced Margaret Thatcher into a rare U-turn that secured funding for S4C in the early 1980’s.

Of course, not everyone wants to starve themselves or have themselves locked up in jail to make a political point.

However, there is a simpler way to do it – get rid of your TV, don’t pay the license fee and give the money to independent Welsh media instead.

The BBC license fee costs £150 a year.

If 10 people did this the BBC would lose £1,500 a year and independent Welsh media would gain what, to them, is a large amount of money.

If 100 people did this then the BBC loses £15,000 – enough to keep a site like Nation.Cymru going for a whole year.

A thousand people doing it would be £150,000! That would be enough to make the BBC sit up and take notice and to fund an excellent Welsh news service which could employ its own journalists.

Where would you rather your money goes – to the BBC who regularly act as if Wales doesn’t exist as a political entity, or an independent Welsh media who always put Wales first?

Void

So that’s what I did. I decided to go ‘Cold Turkey’ – I took my TV and all associated paraphernalia to the dump.

Deep in my subconscious mind, it must have been the never-ending Brexit ‘Muppet Show’ that drove me to end my relationship with TV.

But it wasn’t an easy decision. As a political junkie, it was not until the TV was gone that I realised how much time I had wasted watching rolling 24-hour news on the Parliamentary Channel!

Without a TV and sitting in my favourite armchair I started to reflect on the years and years I had sat there staring into the void.

An early memory as a small boy was of my parents explaining to me that ‘Rupert the Bear’ did not actually live inside the family TV.

I also recall my grandmother being amused at how I would hide behind the sofa as soon as Jimmy Saville appeared on the screen.

In the 1970’s I saw Gareth Edwards score a try for Wales in glorious colour courtesy of the benevolent British State Broadcaster.

And I couldn’t help but wonder if the TV had a similar effect to the Roman Coliseum – used to distract the people away from the daily grind of their lives, and doing something about it.

After about a month without TV I found myself in conversation with a well-known Welsh media personality at a party.

When I jokingly explained that I had no TV to watch his ‘sothach’, I was told that if everyone became like me then his company would go out of business.

This discussion made me think about how I would untangle myself from having to pay the TV licence.

I started to wonder if the British State Broadcaster could ‘visit’ me in one of their detection vans as portrayed in those creepy yet laughable 1970’s public information films.

Would I suffer a miscarriage of justice and still end up in jail like my aunt anyway?

Having looked into it, I found that all that was needed was to send a letter to BBC licencing in Darlington declaring ‘I do not need a TV licence’.

I was then sent a certificate that will last for a year at a time stating that I did not watch any TV.

So that was £150 I had saved, with ease – and £150 I’ve now sent to Nation.Cymru!


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