Wednesday, July 9, 2008

TV Tax

Last weekend's big news was literally big: I bought a 32" TV. I've never actually owned a tv before, let alone purchased one, so this was a big deal (pun intended). A friend found the set on sale super cheap at my favorite British store, Argos, and I picked it up and took it home in a cab for my roommate to deal with. She set it up, and now we get a gazillion channels and lots of reruns (they even get Law and Order reruns here!).

To my dismay, however, despite the deal I got on it, I am still getting screwed. Why? Because everyone who owns a TV has to pay TV TAX. That's right. £140 per year for me to get basic TV; the tax pays for BBC1,2,3,4 and the radio stations - BEFORE paying for cable! It's like supporting NPR or PBS but YOU DON'T HAVE A CHOICE.

I suppose the only upside is that here, you're spared the awful telethons and fundraising weeks that NPR and PBS torture you with twice a year; no waking up to "if you enjoy the critical reporting and enlightening stories that WNYC bring to you free of charge", guilting listeners by reminding them that they'll shell out $5 for Starbucks coffee every morning but are too cheap to pay for quality radio programming. Here, you just have to pay.

BUT! When you do succumb to the guilt that NPR and PBS inflict upon you, you get a little something to pacify you a bit longer - subsidized subscription to the New Yorker, a Bruce Springsteen CD, a tote bag, etc. Where is my bloody totebag! Or umbrella?! The Brits haven't figured out that form of bribery yet.

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