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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 24-Aug-07


Friday 24-August-07

Licence fees and criminals

There's a really grand institution in Britain that's the envy of the world.

The BBC produce news and programming that is known globally for its fairness and integrity. Its funding comes not from the government but from a licence fee that all households with televisions pay. Whilst I dislike paying many fees, this is one which I consider extremely good value. Not everyone agrees, however, and a number try to avoid paying the fee.

The BBC thus plays a constant game, encouraging us to pay and chasing offenders. In a recent campaign they used the following slogan alongside showing the carrot and stick of multiple payment options and electronic snooping methods they use to check up on houses that do not pay.

'Easier to pay. Harder to avoid.'

It's a neat little double with some linguistic tricks built in.

'Easier' and 'Harder' are opposites. When you use an opposing pair like this, each supports the other.

To understand 'easier' you have to consider 'harder', and vice versa. They thus push against one another in an exaggerating, polarizing effect.

The central word of each sentence is 'to', thus connecting the sentences further in similarity and rhyme. Three words in each sentence also uses a similarity bonding effect.

'Pay', a generally nasty word, is softened by 'Easier'. 'Avoid', perhaps an attractive word, is made less pleasant by 'Harder'.

I saw the power of the BBC in a recent RSA lecture I attended. Misha Glenny is a BBC journalist who has travelled the world in a quest to understand organized crime. Such is the trust that the BBC brand engenders, he was able to talk openly with many dangerous people, from Russian mafia bosses to Columbian drug barons. He's a braver man than me and demonstrates the remarkable value that we and the world gets from the BBC. From his investigations much more is now known of the systemic drivers of global crime (such as US policy) that go way beyond the licence fee avoider. ..

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