I WAS sorry to learn of the death of the liberal, laissez faire economist Professor Sir Alan Peacock, co-founder of the Edinburgh-based David Hume Institute (Obituaries, 7 August).
A far-seeing man, he produced an eponymous report which recommended that the BBC should be funded not by a compulsory licence fee, but by a voluntary subscription.
The BBC resisted. The recommendations were never implemented.
Even as far back as 1986, shortly after the Ulster Young Unionist Council (the youth wing of the Ulster Unionist Party) passed a motion at its annual conference calling for the BBC to be regionalised and privatised, Alan Peacock recognised that the BBC was anachronistic.
Since its foundation, the world of broadcasting had changed fundamentally, with the advent of multiple radio and television stations.
The Peacock Report (1986) was prescient. The internet has revolutionised mass communications, entertainment and broadcasting.
In an age of increasing choice, the element of compulsion is anathema: if people want to watch TV they must buy a licence, whether or not they want to watch the BBC.
It is, at best, a form of extortion, and at worse a form of mandatory taxation.
The concept of public service broadcasting is a myth. The BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, for example, was a disgrace.
The BBC compulsory licence fee is rather like saying that if you want to read The Scotsman you must first buy the Daily Mail.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent