The suggestion that the ABC should levy pay-for-view charges on the TV shows that it records wouldn’t win top grades from the viewpoint of standard economics. To the extent that the marginal cost of supplying an extra copy of a show to a customer is zero the ideal charge for gaining an extra customer is also zero – it should be provided for free with costs being met from the public purse via taxes. It is a standard public goods argument. If it was sought to implement a “viewer pays” policy then the more sensible way of recovering costs would be to levy a fixed charge per year from gaining access to the recorded shows – then the shows are being treated as a club good rather than a pure public good. I do favour a fixed licence charge for gaining access to the ABC but never a per use charge.
The idea of charging per view is an instance of right-wing ideology and culture wars fanaticism dominating good economic sense. The same type of nonsense gets recycled periodically over proposals to use the private sector to provide weather/meteorological information. For general weather information the proposal is just as silly as the proposal to charge for individual TV shows.
Is the publicity given to this per view pricing policy yet another expression of the self-interest of The Australian newspaper? Its a major obsession to penalise the ABC presumably because the ABC provides a much better quality news and entertainment service than the trash Murdoch media does. Along with The Australian’s trash promotion of campaigns too limit plain packaging and to deny the reality of climate change the attacks on the ABC have become a repeated theme. The Australian might argue that the ABC gets unfair public funding which disadvantages those private media suppliers who must make a buck. There is some truth to this but The Australian anyway services a different market to the ABC. The Australian services primarily – the right-wing loony market of cretinous IPA/libertarian types. The ABC has a more balanced view of the world.
I’ll wait to see if the wonky economics of Henry Ergas and Judith Sloan can latch onto this one.