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TV Licensing

Who is going to stop paying??  

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  1. 1. Who is going to stop paying??

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    • Not Me

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But then if you have the equipment to watch iPlayer, you automatically can watch live content like the BBC news channel etc, so therefore anyone with an internet connection must automatically need a TV licence.


My question, put another way, is is it legal to own a device technically capable of receiving live TV even if it is never ever used for that purpose, without a licence. And if so, how do you prove it?

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I believe this is a situation where the history of telecommunication technology and its roll-out to the masses is highly relevant. In a nutshell:


1. Analogue TV begins to be broadcast and television sets capable of decoding these broadcasts are made available for consumer use. The government makes it unlawful to watch their transmissions without license payment.


2. Independent broadcasters transmit content for consumption on the same kind of technological receiver. Such reception is also decreed to require the user to be licensed to receive TV.


3. Video tape recorders/players become available. As the licensing legislation is written in terms of the ability of TV sets just to be able to receive transmissions, people using video players only to watch recorded material have a hard time avoiding having to be licensed. A few do manage to do so when they can show there is no TV reception available in their area, but in the main, if the TV can receive broadcasts, it is assumed to be being used for this.


4. DVD players become available. Same situation as for the introduction of tape.


5. Dedicated TV-cards become available for installation in computers. Again, this is treated as a TV set as it meets all the same criteria for licensing.


6. TV stations begin making their content available from totally bog-standard computers equipped with no additional user installed software.


Suddenly things are different. The government see that it is unworkable to begin to require people to purchase licenses for standard devices which have only become capable of receiving their content due to the change in broadcast media used. So, they opt for the in-between condition that licensing is required if programmes are being viewed as they are being broadcast by the primary transmission method, as noted by MuckeJoannie above.


Unlike with traditional TV sets, it is possible for regulators to determine if an internet user has been accessing TV streams at a particular time.

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But then if you have the equipment to watch iPlayer, you automatically can watch live content like the BBC news channel etc, so therefore anyone with an internet connection must automatically need a TV licence.


My question, put another way, is is it legal to own a device technically capable of receiving live TV even if it is never ever used for that purpose, without a licence. And if so, how do you prove it?


As UK law used to be. Innocent until proven guilty. It is up to the authority to record you watching live TV.

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  • 4 weeks later...

(*** Mod edit - threads merged ***)


I have received a couple of private messages asking for advice on our rights when it comes to paying the TV license. Please note: The following is in no way encouraging anyone to act in the same way that I choose to do, but merely pointing out my personal choices and knowledge of our rights. What you do with this information is entirely up to you.


Whether we should have to pay a TV licence, is something that has been debated for many years and this is a platform that you may choose to continue that discussion. The blatantly obvious answer is NO. Sure, it had a place in the development of broadcasting but with the plethora of broadcasting channels and mediums in today’s world, it is entirely unethical. Could I start a Youtube channel and then start asking everybody in the UK with a computer to buy a licence? I think not, and I would actually be offering the objectivity and impartiality that the BBC lacks! It never ceases to amaze me how a propaganda tool, which is used to dumb down the public masses, is actually paid for by those that are dumbed down enough to pay for the privilege.


That particular debate is actually irrelevant because the fact of the matter is that you DO NOT have to pay a TV licence. It is so unreasonable, on so many levels that there are dozens of ways to avoid paying. The simplest way is to completely ignore the sales people and the techniques that they use. However, you do need to be aware of how to deal with them if they appear at your door. An important fact to know is that TV licensing or TVL is a private company and is not a Government agency nor is it part of the BBC. They will send you letters threatening you with fines and threats of prosecution for breaking the law, and eventually they will send someone round to continue the harassment and intimidation in person. The letters are easy enough to ignore but some people would not stand up well to the hard sales techniques employed by the door to door sales men or detection agents, as they call themselves.


If you are not confident about dealing with these individuals that are trained to intimidate, then you would be advised to take another approach. If you are prepared to deal with them, the important thing to remember is that they are only workers of a private company and have no powers that you or I do not posses. If they manage to gather compelling evidence that you are using a TV without a Licence then they could apply for a warrant to prove so. The reason that you will know that they have the compelling evidence is because 99.9% of the evidence that they use comes from you. The same goes for the evidence that they would use if they wanted to prosecute you. They will come to your door and flash their TV Licensing badge like they are part of special branch but they have no power over you and can only gain any if you start facilitating them with information. A wise response is to simply close the door on them without even speaking to them. They do not know if you have a TV and they cannot even confirm who you are or if you are the householder. Therefore they cannot take it any further and will revert to their nasty letters which you can laugh at even more.


It can be quite amusing to tackle these characters, filming them seems to make them particularly agitated and they will often clear off straight away, knowing that there is little that they can do to a person that knows that their success is based on self confessions. Ask them as many questions as possible about their intentions, the actual legislation, their company, the rewards that they get for selling TV licences, how the magical “detection vans†work etc etc etc. Never answer their questions, never let them in, never tell them who you are or if you are the householder and do not admit to having a TV or if you have a TV licence or not. Play it right and they cannot touch you. In fact, you are well within your rights to tell them to leave your property.


If you have more time then you could choose to write to them telling them that you are refusing to pay the licence on legal grounds, citing one of the number of cases that are going through the courts at the moment. Maybe you could even start a new one. My favourite is the current one that is based on the BBC accepting funds from outside of the UK, taking their impartiality and duty to the licence payers into question. It also claims that the BBC are now clearly under the influence of that contributing foreign body and a UK citizen continuing to pay a licence fee would be guilty of treason.


There is of course the option of going down the “no contract†route and the refusal to represent the legally fictional person that is printed on your birth certificate. Again this would consume time and also take up a fair bit of researching if you are unfamiliar with the concept. I hope that this helps those that contacted me and requested information on the subject. I would have sent it to you individually but I thought that it may spark some friendly debate. There are plenty of groups that fight against the TV Licence and a quick search will arm you with all the information that you need.

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Then again you could just decide that the BBC provides enough good services for you to pay for a licence if you choose to watch TV. After all programmes without adverts are kind of good. Or you could do what I am currently doing and not watch TV in any way, shape or form that needs a licence. Watching TV is not compulsory and I have given up until such time as I have watched most of my backlog of DVDs.


Personally I would like to see the BBC funded from general taxation as even those who do not need a licence may well use other BBC services. For example I use BBC radio and various BBC websites.

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