The "licence fee."
What is it?
It is the legally-mandated payment every British home with a television must pay to support the BBC. It is the fee that has spawned decades of low- and high-tech means of detecting license evaders. It is the fee that results in imprisonment for those who dodge it. Yeah. Imprisonment. For not paying for the privilege of having the BBC beamed into your home.
That's akin to the Bush Administration and Congress enacting a law that all US citizens with TVs must pay $50 a year to support The FOX News Channel. Or to make support of PBS legally required. To American sensibilities, it's almost unfathomable. Sure, we pay for cable or satellite, but we choose our own channels and I'm not certain anyone has served time for stealing cable.
I remember well the license fee as a kid in Scotland. I also remember when the BBC was one of the most respected news organizations in the world. No longer. The following links detail only a few of the shady and ethically-questionable actions going on at the BBC. The first discusses a BBC online thread that allowed a proven lie about Jews to remain while removing every single rebuttal to it, on the basis of determining whether the rebuttal had violated site policies. The libel is still on the site, the rebuttals are still removed. Truth and decency apparently are not priorities of the BBC online news organization.
The second link details a host of scams and irregularities over the past two years that demonstrate to even the biggest doubters that something is very wrong with "Auntie Beeb."
Small wonder that a growing segment of the British population is now openly questioning the necessity--and morality--of compulsory BBC financial support. Small wonder that the BBC lacks all journalistic credibility, especially where it concerns international affairs.