Letter: BBC's digital fee

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Consumers are being constantly told by pundits and broadcasters that digital TV will offer almost unlimited benefits. We will have access to more programmes, including the archives of the major companies; we will be able to construct virtual channels exactly reflecting our interests; we will be able to choose camera angles, call up replays at will, apply special effects and soundtracks of our choice, get ourselves elected Queen of the May - anything we want.

The question, which springs to mind in the midst of all this consumer control, is: "Will we be able to watch a movie without adverts?" And if not why not?

If the answer is yes, then who pays for the programming? Surely it must have occurred to one of the numerous media executives currently contending for our souls that people do not voluntarily watch TV adverts, and will avoid them if possible, no matter how much tea they drink.

So where will the money come from to finance the "high-quality programming" we are constantly promised if no one is being persuaded to buy the products and services of the companies which pay for the programmes? Is this the end of the advertising industry as we know it? How will the liberation from corporate propaganda on TV effect the "free" market itself? Or conversely, will we be forced to endure adverts "for our own good" by some devious piece of software manipulation?

Whatever the outcome, it would seem that the BBC has less to worry about than the commercial companies, being independent of the free market. It's just a shame that nobody running the corporation realises it. But then, neither does anyone in the commercial sector.

ROB KENYON

London SE14

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