TV Licensing Authority

Saturday, June 12th, 2004 at 1050

As some of you who know me will know, I don’t own a TV. For those of you who don’t know me, I don’t own a TV. I don’t want one, quite frankly because it’s a drain on my life I can do without. Time flies past fast enough without me wasting even more of it slumped infront of a random picture generator designed to sedate the intellect. Ok where was I? people in the UK have to pay the TV Licensing Authority if they want to own a television. For those of you in the “free world” this might seem bizarre and in this day and age, it is. It stems from the days when TV’s were a new invention and the government required some way to fund the programs being broadcast. This was of course in the heady days of “BBC1″, no adverts, no independent stations, just the good old BBC. Then along came the other channels who funded their cause with infuriating, intellect-sapping adverts. It wasn’t their fault though, they didn’t get a cut of the license money so they had to pay their way my making a pact with the Devil. Next up, Sky TV, Cable and a whole host of providers from places where TV Licenses never existed who also used the Devil-Pact method of fund raising. Ok where am I going with this? Ahh yes…

See we don’t own a TV, so we didn’t buy a TV license. This meant that for the last 8 months we’ve been receiving threat-letters from the Licensing Authority. I say “Threat” because they start out accusational then apologise just in case you haven’t got a TV and then move on to tell you how you can pay for one., they don’t for a second acknowledge the notion of “Innocent until proven guilty”, nono. You see everyone owns a television. Those who don’t are liars who “will be caught”.
Frankly I find that quite offensive, I mean I know not to take the threat letters personally, but their approach is still despicable. It gets better too.

Deciding I’d had enough of the threats, I called the TVLA and informed them ever so politely (As is my nature) that we didn’t infact own a brain-numbing device and they could stop sending us letters. Two days later, another letter! This one was slightly different however, this one was a subtley veiled threat without the bold red type of the last one. “Dear so and so, you admitted to not owning a TV and we find this highly irregular, so we’re going to send the hit-squad to search your premesis because, frankly, we don’t believe you.”
Naturally, that’s the condensed version.
I had in my hands a letter telling me, quite plainly, that they outright did not believe me and would be sending some government spooks to search my house. Hello? Human rights? Respect of privacy? If the drug dealers next door aren’t having their house searched then I’m damned if we should. I wasn’t privvy to a vote on TV licensing so the system in place is not part of my “free choice” as a citizen in an allegedly democratic country, it seems the moment I was born I was automatically opted-in to the damned thing.
We can’t afford to pay the protection money that our government demands to keep its henchmen out of our home, so if they do call we are compelled by law and a search warrant to let them poke around our house. We have nothing to hide, sure, but that’s not the point. Personally the mechanism which gives them the right to invade peoples’ property on a whim seems as immoral as it does insulting. Not only that but the blind assumption that everyone owns a TV and anyone who says otherwise is a liar is bloody annoying.

What next? Compulsary drug rehab for everyone, just because they don’t believe anyone can survive in the UK without being inebriated beyond sensibility?

28 Comment for “TV Licensing Authority”

  1. MaZ Said this on

    Just remember at least you have nothing to hide, you dont have stuff in your house like scara did when they were gonna search his 😉

  2. Gibster Said this on 😀

  3. Peter McAlpine Said this on

    I’m British, but I lived in Thailand since 1984. I watched TV at my mother’s house over Christmas and the New Year, and I found it all so very poor. I wouldn’t be happy about having to pay 120 pounds or so for what is available. I could easily live without a TV in the UK. Cable TV in Thailand is so much better and cheaper, and there is no licence fee to pay.

    I did not know that people are being harassed so much by the TV License Authority, whose bosses all seem to have a degree in Thuganomics. This sort of behaviour does not happen in Thailand. I feel sorry for the 2 million people who don’t have a TV, and who are treated as criminals for not having one. What a strange mentality!

    It would seem so much better to avoid upsetting 2 million people by abolishing the licence system and having the BBC allow advertising. Perhaps the old Boardroom fuddy-duddies at the BBC, who make the decisions, could remember that the times have changed, and realize that they can’t treat people like they do anymore. Even the dictators of the world now have to behave better.

    A few final comments about UK TV:

    1. I’ve noticed that films on UK TV are banished to 10 p.m. onwards. How strange! What’s wrong with the idea of a film in the early evening?
    2. The films all seem to be so old. Is this to save money?
    3. Over Christmas there were so many old World War 2 films on the BBC channels. Do the fuddy-duddies at the BBC not know that the Germans are our friends now? The days of Britain Rules the Waves are over.

  4. Dave Said this on

    I doubt that method of enforcement is legal under European Human Rights legislation. Perhaps someone should take a case to Brussells about it?

    The TV licencing system also operates in the Republic of Ireland to fund RTE, but the inforcement doesn’t seem quite so harsh or invasive.

    It’s time you people take a stand and give the BBC and its henchmen a kick into the 21st century.

    If they really wanted to they could simply encrypt BBC 1,2 on analogue and require you to have a valid licence to view it. The decoder would cost less than 1 years licence.

    With loads of homes moving to digital tv too it seems utterly ridiculous to continue with the licence fee idea! Just have a BBC subscription fee, if you don’t want to watch, you get your service cut off.

    An electronic subscription system would cost the BBC a fraction of the price of employing all of those snoops, spooks and henchemen!

  5. Student Of Law Said this on

    Just to say TV Licensing has no rights to search your home. Unless issued a search warrant by a judge. Which would in turn require a police officer to present the warrant.

  6. alex forbes Said this on

    I am want to register a political party called Abolish Television licensing Public Reform Party to unite all Anti TVLA people in the UK.
    I think our voice is not being heard and a party will embarass the BBC and the government, it’s easy to register aswell. Regards, Alex

  7. Georgie Said this on

    I bought a dvd recorder from Amazon and had it delivered to my workplace. Today, at work I received a notice regarding a lack of a TV licence here at work It begins:

    “I see from our records that in August 2005 you visited Amazon.Com Int’l Inc and bought or rented a TV or other equipment capable of receiving TV programme services. Unfortunately, we have no record of a TV licence for the above address in your name.”

    I replied as follows

    “An inference could be drawn that you are in some way monitoring internet traffic for personal information on purchases of TV or related equipment. This adds to the already intimidating and big brotherly tone of the letter. I checked your web site and found that retailers are expected to notify you of any purchases of certain kinds of equipment. Your letter does not say that and I find that omission offensive in that it is clearly designed to create alarm.

    Amazon UK delivered a DVD recorder to me at my work address which is a business office and does not have a TV or other receiving equipment.

    If you care to check your records, something I would think you are capable of, using a postcode reference check, you will find that this work address has been subject of inquiries by you in the past and you have been informed on more than one occasion that there is no receiving equipment here.

    Thank you for causing me embarrassment at my workplace and potentially creating a new opportunity for your organisation to harass my employer, something which will no doubt improve my career prospects.

    I return your information together with previous correspondence to this address and suggest that in future you take greater care when sending your misleading and bullying notices.”

    I don’t have a problem with the licence fee and support a public service broadcaster. I do object to the licencing authority alarmist and intimidatory tone.

  8. wegface Said this on

    In reply to Law student: Infact tv licence is the only crime in the u.k in which a judge/ police officer has to sign the search warrant. It gets automatic approval. Unlike if u kill someone. Personally i choose to outright ignore all correspondance with licencing authority. I put unopened letters in the bin and dont open the door to the officers. I await for the day of the search. :(

  9. anne Said this on

    It’s good to know I’m not the only person in the UK who chooses to not own a TV (I was beginning to wonder…)

    So far I’ve had 7 letter, 6 months of hassle, 9 harassing phonecalls with the dogs of the BBC – and I DON’T have a TV. They just refuse to believe me & insist that theyare going to send “a couple of officials” round to check out my home. When I asked if that meant the living room, the answer was no, everywhere – including my bedroom.

    My husband died l0 months ago & I absolutely refuse to allow myself, especially as a woman living alone, to have to let strange blokes into my personal space looking for a Tv that isn’t there. They missed the point – Not scared of visiting blokes (I work in frontline security) I just won’t allow it.What happened to “innocent until proven guilty” anyway…?

    Apart from anything else – if they visit to check there isn’t a TV, and find there isn’t – there’s still nothing to stop me going out & buying one next day, is there? No intention of doing so, but the concept of the detection visit seems anachronistic – it proves nothing except there wasnt one there when they came.

    I’ve tried my MP but he’s about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

    Best regards to all those who manage to lead full lives without being spoonfed the drivel that I see on relatives Tvs.

  10. Peter Jones Said this on

    Would you like to add this as a link? Thanks!

  11. Diana Edwards Said this on

    I have just come accross your site , and wondered if Scotland is even more punative than the rest of the UK. I had a holiday home there for several years and no TV. They sent letters with increasing threats to me and then one day I was coming back and saw the TV enforecement van outside with someone peering into my windows.
    Since then I have moved up here permanantly and the licensing authority gave me a refund on my license from old address, while at the same time issuing threatening letters to me at my new one. Today ( Jan 13th 2006)I ‘phoned the number thye ask you to call if you don’t have a license and was told that someone would have to come and search my home to check this was true. I said that I really didn’t have a license but there was no way I was going to let someone search my house as a matter of principal given there is no law to oblige me to own a TV, therefore not having one is not something I should have to prove- let them use their old fashioned detector vans, they wont find anything, and then they can leave people like me in peace.

    I would like to take this matter up generally, especially since a final warning has arrived to an empty home near mine which I keep an eye on, saying they intend to do a search because letters about the license for that address have been ignored. An elderly couple are about to move in, can you imagine the distress this might cause to them if I hadn’t found it first.

    Anyone able to point me in the right direction to challenge this matter?

  12. Simone Said this on

    I can tell you that even if you agree to a visit, which my husband and I did on a Friday night, after we had already gone to bed, hoping to end this once and for all, it is likely that the blokes will say “no, it’s OK – we believe you since you agreed to let us in”, leave, and the threatening letters will continue. I got my latest one today and the ‘visit’ was 2 weeks ago.

  13. simpson Said this on

    simone letters take three and a half weeks from date they were printed to get to your premises which could have been as early as one and a half weeks before your visit, its impossible to chase a postman down the street to stop that happening.

  14. JayK Said this on

    Simpson, please do not be so facetious, it is unreasonable in this day and age to have an authoritarian paper-based system being used irrespective of background investigation and facts to pressure and coerce people into paying for a service they never requested nor want. If I want to have broadband I choose my supplier, they in turn charge me for this service not because I have a home computer do I automatically use or want broadband at home.

  15. A.N.Other Said this on

    JayK, please let us know which part of Simpson’s post you find facetious and don’t just throw insults with more letters than you know what to do with.

    The fact of the matter (note I say FACT) is that paper based correspondence is cheap and as such is the darling of most medium to large corporations. You simply can’t get away from it. Simpson has a valid point, that the paper based system is not perfect. People who don’t understand how the system works will always jump to the wrong conclusion (and justifiably so!) because it is human nature when one is being threatened.

    In veiw of this, do you wish to retract your last statement or will you call me facetious too?

  16. Debs Said this on

    I came across this site and have read the posts with increasing horror…I have just given up my TV and received a refund on my licence, this is the forth time I have done this and I have never had a problem before. I really hope I don’t have a problem now but reading these posts I’m not too sure!!

  17. Hugh Said this on

    The TVLA have been “chasing” me for over 3 years at my current address. As per everybody else I get the slightly threatening letters that escalate in their bullying tone … beginning to involve “they may caution you (in accordance wih the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) and take your statement”.

    I live on my own and am at work during the day, and often out on weekends and evenings. Given the lack of effort on their part to meet me in 3 years, I think it’s unlikely they’ll ever do so. Even the gas / electricity men, double glazing salesmen, representatives from the Church of the Latter Day Saints have managed to catch me in; but not the TVLAers.

    The last letter I received was sent by them on August 7th boldly titled “Important: please respond to this letter by 22nd August to avoid your details being passed on to our Enforcement Division for investigation”. It arrived on August 25th so obviously no point in replying as I’m screwed anyway. Plus of course for all their threats and bluffs they never actually seem to come around; so why on earth would I bother to reply.

    Question I always wonder is how much legal power do these people have? Can they enter my house without my permission to look around? What will they do to validate that my PC has no receiving equipment? They won’t find a telly because I don’t have one.

    But if they should ever bother to call around, when I’m in, my attitude will be they can’t come in. They supposedly have their TV detection vans (and handheld monitors) so they can stand outside and see if there’s ever a signal being received. There won’t ever be and as far as I’m concerned it’s up to them to prove my guilt; which doesn’t exist because I never receive TV programmes …

  18. Alan Said this on

    Just to make it clear to you all regarding the statment on this site “people in the UK have to pay the TV Licensing Authority if they want to own a television”.

    This is not true!, You can OWN a Television to view DVD’s/Videos Etc BUT NOT Broadcast (Off Air) Television. BBC/ITV/SKY/FREEVIEW ETC.

    I intend to make it my New Year Resoloution in 2007 to remove ALL means of receiving Broadcast TV and just view my extensive DVD collection. Saving Ten Pounds per month that I pay to TVL I can buy a new DVD each month (About 11 new ones per year).

  19. Denyerec Said this on

    Quite right! I’m not sure if I should update it to read “If they want to own a television to receive broadcast signals” or “If they want to avoid undue suspicion and baseless accusation on behalf of the TVLA…”

    What do you think? :)

  20. Alan Said this on

    How about… “people in the UK have to pay the TV Licensing Authority if they want to own a television If they want to receive broadcast signals! i.e. BBC. ITV. Sky etc”.

    I intend to put my full story on how I progress with TVL on one of my websites I must say from what I have seen on this and other sites I am expecting a very hard time from them. They just don’t seem to grasp that people are getting fed up with the rubbish on TV these days. And repeats too!! Like The Two Ronnies, Hey TVL I paid for that from my licence fee in the 1970’s

  21. Alan Said this on

    Also.. TVL are setting COOKIES when you visit certain websites.

    The COOKIE shows up as..

    After what I have seen regarding TVL’s conduct I would STRONGLY advise anyone to BLOCK cookies from them.

  22. Kate Hurst Said this on

    I too have been having to put up with these persistent reminders for the whole of the three years I have been at university. Want to know why? There are five bedrooms in our flat but according to the TV License people there are six addresses (the sixth is the kitchen, corridor and cupboard containing mop, bucket, hoover etc).

    So because technically nobody lives at this sixth address, we don’t have a licence for it. Whenever I have attempted to phone the license people, I get put on hold and then my mobile cuts off. I am sick and tired of being hounded by these letters because nobody else in my flat could care less and so I worry too much to compensate. This is the only reason I can’t wait to leave university. I wrote to them to explain this and never received a reply.

  23. gabriella Said this on

    I have not had a TV in years and to be quite honest I am sick of the nasty letters they keep sending me…Please how many times do I have to let them in and sign a declaration!!!

    Today I phoned them up and told them that it was a total breach of my rights.. That I would not be signing any more declarations and would not be letting anyone in my house…. I boldy asked what would happen if I ignore all the letters out of principal? would the police come and break in my house? Do you know what she replied??? “I dont Know” like they dont know their own policy… more like ” Actually there is nothing we can do , but we try to scare everyone as much as we can”

    I work hard, pay all my bills and wouldnt have a TV if it was free! I would like to hear if anyone has ever had the police break in for ignoring them and not having a TV?

  24. Colonel MOlerat Said this on

    I have been harassed by the BBC (who have ‘TVLA’ as a trading name) both in my one year at university and at my current home.
    I do not own a television and ignored all of their letters on principle – they were rude and bullying, an attitude that does NOT breed co-operation.
    I finally phoned them up after receiving the infamous ‘interview under caution’ letter and found it very difficult to even tell them that I didn’t have a television – there was no option for it on their automated answer thingy, so I had to make an ‘other’ enquiry, under a submenu. When I finally convinced the person that I was not going to buy a TV license, as I DO NOT OWN A TELEVISION, they said that people would still visit me to check that I wasn’t lying – the exact same course of action as if I hadn’t replied to them.
    Perhaps one benefit is that the letters seem to have stopped (I only received one more, which was more polite in its tone, but still threatened me with eternal damnation if I was trying to trick them) – that was about three months ago. I really hope I don’t get any more letters…
    I still haven’t been visited, either.
    Ironically, I know people who don’t own a television license, but watch telelvision anyway – and they just ignore the letters, with no ill effects. One even had the authorities visit, but just said they were busy, so were left alone!
    I do not mind the notion of a TV license to fund an impartial, advert-free broadcaster, but object strongly to the strong-arm tactics and guilty-until-proven attitude of the TVLA. As for why the BBC can’t use another tactic, such as subscription, pay-per-hour or the like, that is beyond me.

  25. sweetlouis Said this on

    I would like to hear if anyone has ever had the police break in for ignoring them and not having a TV?

  26. jason smythe Said this on

    well they told me to starve my daughter to pay for the license

  27. Dave Said this on

    Its now 2011 and I can assure anyone that looks here that things haven’t changed. The letters are still rude and persistent and I’ve had one visit (while out so tough on them for wasting the shoeleather).
    I’ve also checked a few things out – which didn’t surprise but did disappoint.
    a) A few years back the not owning a tv licence was made a criminal offence
    b) Being a criminal offence the harassment is legal – if you check the UK law on harassment its ok if you are preventing or solving a crime (basically to give the police carte blanch for anything they want to do).
    c) They continued to harass my gran (well at least her address) after being told she was dead – guess they need to dig people up to believe they aren’t watching from in the grave.

    I fully expect that they will continue their harassment right up until I move country (about 2 months now).

  28. Mike Said this on

    No need to buy a licence: no TV = no licence required.

    I have a scheme – bear with me…

    I get letters from them & I send them UNSTAMPED back to the TVLA using the post code on the letter itself which is different to the ‘if undelivered, please return to…’. They pay excess postage, thereby cross-subsidising poor old Royal Mail who are not paid (common carrier rules) to deliver them! (UKMAIL gets the dosh for the easy task of collecting the envelopes). It must also cause grief at their Mail department. :-)

    I got legal advice: If an inspector calls and asks if a TV is in the household, they MUST get a reply of YES or NO. So NO in this case. They cannot be told to F*** O** because that is deemed threatening behaviour and can be quoted in court BUT you can quote a legal case which does the same ie “…so may I quote the reply given in the case of ARKELL vs PRESSDRAM?” This is in the form of “…in respect of your client’s demand for an apology, our client instructs us to inform you to F*** O***”. (See Wikipedia)

    The case MUST be quoted first 😉

    Have fun.

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