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Shameless BBC needs to take a good look at itself

Your front page of Tuesday, March 8 on the shocking and costly pursuit by the BBC of non-TV licence holders made sense for the first time of something that has puzzled me for years.

That is the appearance in my weekly newspaper of the names, addresses and fines meted out to licence-fee miscreants.

I have often been amazed at the exclusive shaming process which seems to attach to this minor offence, while the drunks, brawlers, wife-beaters, swindlers, con artists and dangerous drivers of Northern Ireland are able to take their chances with the Press while the law takes its course.

Someone relieving a till of several hundred pounds may well find his or her crime going unnoticed in the local Press. But there seems to be a particular Press release issued on TV licence "dodgers" locally, giving all the details of what is, after all, a victimless offence - if it is an offence at all, which I doubt.

If half the effort the Beeb puts in to hounding and victimising the working classes - I've yet to see a wee van prowling the lanes of Marlborough or Osborne Parks - went in to inventive programming, it might be more of an incentive for people to make an additional contribution of some kind to what our taxes already pay for.

The institution that harboured and protected Jimmy Savile would do well to learn a little humility in its old age as the new media proliferate and people rely less on plummy-voiced southern English folk for guidance on how to think about the world.

OBSERVER

Belfast

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