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pterjan's diary


  TV Licensing

I received today a scary leaflet titled "It's a criminal offence to watch or record TV without a TV Licence" because I don't have a TV licence (I did not have a TV for about 10 years and don't watch TV on any other device). It says that my address was given to Enforcement Division for investigation. I can get £1,000 fine, they will present evidence if I end up in court, they catch 1000 evaders everyday (which really seem high...)

But then they give me a solution: "End this investigation by buying a TV licence. You can buy it immediately on our website."

Then in small characters they list discounts and say that I can inform them I do not watch live TV, and they may confirm it with a visit.

I felt like if I was facing a mafia trying to scare me enough to make me pay...

It seems to be nothing new, and to quote Wikipedia TV Licensing is managed as a sales operation and its officers are motivated by commission payments. In 2005, a TV Licensing officer was found guilty of false accounting and perverting the course of justice after he deliberately forged the confessions of four people to obtain commission payments.

Today's TSUKKOMI(Total: 31) [Add a TSUKKOMI]
  Alberto Ruiz (2011-04-17 01:07)

I feel very much like you do when I see these letters. Not very nice coming from an official organization that depends from the government.<br><br>They should do this the easy way like in spain, public TV is financed through the advertisement done in private channels. If you want to provide a public service, be one.

  Hans (2011-04-17 01:14)

Wow, that's pretty outrageous :o

  Bob Bobson (2011-04-17 01:22)

Stop being such a jerk. The BBC is only possible because of the TV licence, and I think the BBC is unique throughout the world because of it's quality, journalistic integrity, lack of commercial interests and ability to cater to small groups and their interests. If you don't have a TV, just tell them and carry on with your life. If the confirm it with a visit, so what.

  Pascal (2011-04-17 01:28)

Sorry for not liking their methods. I don't oppose the licence by itself but how they collect it.<br>In France it is a normal tax, and I received a normal letter from the government asking me to confirm that I don't have a TV or with the form to pay. <br><br>It was polite and did not try to convince me I am a criminal.

  naesk (2011-04-17 01:52)

Like you I haven't owned a TV for 15yrs, and every year I get the same letters. When an officer does arrive, remember that without a warrant they have NO right of entry whatsoever!<br><br>Should you allow them into your property to inspect whether or not you own a live-air TV signal receiving device, they are only allowed to inspect in one room, typically the living room/lounge.<br><br>Once they are satisfied you have no such device, be sure to ask for a letter of indemnity.

  Graham Lyon (2011-04-17 01:54)

I know exactly how you feel with this one - they seem to have forgotten that in the UK you are "innocent until proven guilty". It's a sad fact that they believe you couldn't possibly live life without a TV, therefore MUST have one and therefore MUST be breaking the law.

  Hylke (2011-04-17 02:39)

Just ignore the letter if you don't have a TV. An officer came to my door, and asked whether I had a TV. I replied no (which was true at the time), and he left. If he wanted to get it I would have refused, but they didn't. They don't have the legal right to do so.<br><br>I agree those letters seem a bit threatening, but it's not a big deal.

  nate-m (2011-04-17 03:27)

The difference between Mafioso and a Politician is that the Mafioso is a bit more honest about what he is trying to do to you.<br><br>Paying taxes for government ran television is ludicrous. Being accused of criminal activity because you don't pay taxes for television seems otherworldly. <br><br>I don't understand how people can put up with it.

  Jebw (2011-04-17 10:25)

Yep, I don't have a tv and got one of these letters, followed by a phone call where I attempted to explain that some people choose to not watch telly. Their response on the phone was to basically accuse me of lying. Took another phone call to get them to accept my points.

  Bob (2011-04-17 10:49)

In Denmark you have to have to pay the tv-license as soon as you own a computer, because you can use a computer to watch the homepage of the television company. (But sadly the videos on the webpage don't well with gnash).

  Bob Bobson (2011-04-17 11:24)

"Paying taxes for government ran television is ludicrous. "<br><br>It is NOT government run. The BBC is chartered by the crown, not the government, and run by an independent trust. The chairman of that trust is appointed by the current government, yes, but it's a very long appointment (like ten years) and is publically debated.

  TVL (2011-04-17 14:17)

The guys that come to your house to "investigate" for the TV license are contractors, and they may not have received training. There are stories with some of them forcing themselves in the house or employing tricks, such as they are to make a delivery. <br>Their main trick to get you by surprise.

  Roger (2011-04-17 16:55)

Yes, it's annoying, but just phone them up to say you haven't got a TV. When I did that I never heard back from them (but have moved since).

  tgm (2011-04-17 19:47)<br><br>I blew up at a TV license inspector who came to the door because I already had a TV license!<br><br>There was also a video somewhere (I think it was the site above) where one "inspector" hit the neighbour of someone he was visiting (for filming it)

  Martin (2011-04-18 01:27)

TV licenses are a horrible and dishonest way to fund anything. It is really unfortunate this practice is widespread in Europe including here in Finland. If they want payment for watching they're channel just encrypt it just like everyone else. It seems these inspectors everywhere overstep they're authority and use the slow and nonfunctional justice systems to extort funds from honest people. This practice should also be banned as a attempt to limit peoples right to information. Today with all sorts of devices for retrieving information tv licences are nothing short of insane.

  Jonathan Carter (2011-04-18 03:15)

We still have the same draconian TV license laws in South Africa as well. I guess we inherited them from England :)

  Paul (2011-04-18 06:55)

TV licences are a good way of funding a public broadcaster. Funding through general tax revenue is a worse idea because it gives the goverment of the day more control over the purse strings, hurting independance.<br><br>When we used to receive these (I bought a cheap second hand TV and another house mate bought a license but I kept getting notices) we had fun with them, sending back humourous replies which if nothing else might have made some poor saps day to day job of handling licence purchases somewhat more interesting.

  Fab (2011-04-18 09:54)

Here in Italy, you have to pay TV license if you own any "appliance that can be adapted for picking up radio / tv". Also for the video entryphone. It's called "TV fee", but is a tax, and they are tinking to make you pay it thru electric bill.<br>You have electricity = you _must_ have any kind of recevier = you jave to pay TV Tax.<br>And our "public" tv channels is full of commercials like private ones...

  Michael (2011-04-18 10:05)

In Denmark they have changed the license name to 'Media License' which means that if you own anything that can transmit 'Media'(Phone,Ipod, Computer, etc.) then you must pay the license(which is 307 euro's a year)

  Elroy (2011-04-18 13:16)

At least you have a choice. I don't have one on multiple levels. First the TV license in my country was changed to a general tax that everyone pays wther you have a TV in posession or not. <br><br>Second, to get faster than ADSL internet where I live I have only one option. And that cable operator forces me to take a TV subscription when I take an internet subscription. Even though I didn't watch TV anymore. Admittedly I now sometimes do watch TV since I have it, but given the choice I would not take a subscription and would be happy without it.

  Chris Cunningham (2011-04-18 16:31)

> If they want payment for watching they're channel just encrypt it just like everyone else.<br><br>Is that really what you want? To be forced to go through layers of authentication for use of a public service?<br><br>I'd far rather that the license were simply rolled into income tax. For such a small fee (relatively speaking) it doesn't make sense to have a flat tax which has to be treated like a sales operation for those few people who have no use for the public broadcaster.<br><br> - Chris

  Henrik (2011-04-18 19:13)

Isn't the requirement to watch TV and pay the tithe similar to demands to attend church by the community. Heretic!

  Rudd-O (2011-04-27 00:05)

It IS a mafia. Whenever someone threatens you with violence to pay for something you are not interested in paying and you did not consent to, you are witnessing a MAFIA.

  Rudd-O (2011-04-27 00:06)

Bob Bobson: the fact that you get some freebies like the BBC does not give you the moral right to defend these mafiosos, MUCH LESS to call the article poster a JERK. The only jerk here is you.

  Mathias (2011-04-27 08:17)

Sounds shockingly familar to German GEZ.

  daniel (2011-04-27 09:24)

If that's the BBC I'd pay it even if I don't watch it (which I do, from Sweden, via torrent)... they do some really great science shows pushing back the anti-vaccine, anti-science, pro-ignorance crowd.

  daniel (2011-04-27 09:27)

And no, not unique to the UK.. Swedish Television (SVT) works the exact same way as BBC, in fact they have tons of collaborations going on, BBC being a really huge rolemodel for SVT and other free thinking broadcasting organisations.

  Jon (2011-04-27 10:28)

Ummm Rudd-O, where is the threat of violence?<br><br>I would not bother contacting them to tell them you don't watch TV. I've heard of many cases of it making no difference.

  Freddie (2011-04-27 12:16)

This form of harassment from TV licensing is nothing new. Now, I have no problem with the concept of a TV license, or paying for it at premises where I watch TV.<br><br>My dealings with them some years ago are cataloged here:

  Anne Wilson (2011-05-11 11:15)

My daughter actually had a visit from an enforcing officer, to inspect her house. She had neither time nor need for a television, so no license. She said that the man was polite, but all the same, for a young woman living alone it's not a pleasant experience.

  Rudd-O (2011-05-18 10:23)

Jon:<br><br>TV licensing comes with an IMPLICIT threat of violence if you don't pay. What do you think happens to you if you resist paying? Do they punish you with kittens and rainbows?<br><br>Just because they don't spell it out in the letter "we will put you in a cage or deprive you of your property by force" does not mean this is not what is coming your way.