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This is one method of financing the production and broadcasting of radio and television programmes: alternatives include the licence fee, advertising and sponsorship. Typically, subscribers pay an agreed monthly fee to receive a particular television channel or bundle of channels: or viewers can subscribe to a particular programme (a chosen film or special sporting event) although this is called pay-per-view.

The Peacock Committee, which was established in 1985 to explore the possibility of replacing the BBC licence fee with paid advertising, concluded that the UK should move in three identified phases to ‘a fully fledged broadcasting market’ in which ‘subscription should replace the licence fee’ as a funding mechanism for the BBC (Peacock, 1986, paras 671–700). Peacock believed subscription offered the best mechanism for viewers ...

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