Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Monday, 1 September 2014

Taking the Fight to TV Licensing

The below contribution has been sent to us by a reader called James, who questions what right an organisation as corrupt as the BBC has to bully licence fee payment from non-consumers of its service.

I moved into my new rented property on 13th March of this year. I am in bereavement for my beloved wife and needed some time to rest and adjust to life on my own. Shortly after moving in I received my first letter from the TV licensing authorities. I found the style and content of the literature to be inflammatory and so decided to ignore it. Soon afterwards a second letter came and I decided to do the same as they had already caused me upset by the inappropriate correspondence they had sent me the first time. A third letter then arrived informing me that they had authorised a visit to my property which may come during the morning or the evening on an unspecified visit. Their assumption appears to be based on their own misguided self authorisation and not on any legal framework which will grant them automatic right of entry to my home. Indeed, although I am the tenant and have a legally binding agreement - the ignorance and arrogance of the TV licensing authority do not seem to have given this adequate consideration. Becoming increasingly inflamed by their correspondence, which by its very nature is designed to cause alarm and distress which is unlawful under harassment laws -  I decided to ignore them once again. Hence, the fourth letter now informs me that a court date will be set. All of this has been born from my refusal to participate in their annoying little game of stimulus/response. I have signed no documentation. I have had no contact with anyone visiting my property and yet they instigate a prosecution against me with no evidence of the one point of law they need to successfully mount a case against me - this being that I have been watching TV programmes as they are being broadcast. Such disgraceful behaviour is beneath contempt and I am dearly looking forward to my court appearance where I will (thanks to the advice given on this AMAZING site) ask to be armed with the evidence they have against me. I believe it should be unlawful for this prosecution to be initiated and shall be writing to the new Chairwoman of the BBC Trust and the Office of The Attorney General to alert them as to the practices of threats and intimidation being employed by the TV licensing authorities in order that yet another layer of complaint can be added to their already blemished record of ill treatment towards members of the British public. The prosecution’s case will rest solely on one singular point of law - as mentioned above. In litigation, as many here will be aware - there is prosecution AND defence. Now then, English law provides a platform for both sides to contend against each other. I find this marvellously exciting as it will provide me with an opportunity to question and destroy the prosecution’s case against me. My defence is simple. Times have changed. Legislation has not. It is apparent that the BBC would like the license fee to also cover the shiny new (7 yr old) BBC iPlayer - but to their frustration and resentment - legislators have not agreed to this until after the 2015 General Election. So, what do we have here? A frustrated corporation desperate for cash to pay their so called highly talented "stars" exorbitant salaries while the rest of us struggle to put food on the table - who despite knowing that legislation only covers watching live broadcasts - STILL construct their method of acquiring income based upon threats and intimidation. This is a corporation running scared and who can only resort to such antiquated methods of extortion because the law won't support them in any other respect. What does this mean? It means that I can watch any TV programme I wish - at a time of MY convenience - not theirs - for free - whilst the BBC corporation must shoulder the cost of all their productions that I decide to watch whilst they are impotent to do anything about it. Amusing no? I think so, which is why I am so looking forward to my court date as it will be better than a day out at the beach. I’ll even take a packed lunch and a cream cake just for good measure.

And whilst I am on the subject of talent - I do not think that the likes of Graham Norton, Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Ross are worth their weight in salt – never mind 7 figure salaries which the BBC themselves have refused to publish. I find it deeply hypocritical that the TV licensing authorities wish to extract funds from the British public whilst the BBC refuses to declare the salaries to whom those same funds are being allocated. Are these people for real? Yes, unfortunately, this would appear to be the case. On the subject of funding, I did not read or hear of any refunds being given to license fee payers dating back to the seventies to compensate for the apathetic will to investigate claims against the now late Jimmy Savile for violations amounting to sexual abuse. The same arrogant corporation also appeared to distant itself from similar claims made against Stuart Hall, Chris Denning and Rolf Harris. Is the license fee payer expected to contribute to a corporation that refuses to acknowledge, let alone investigate such serious claims of misconduct? May I remind members of the public, and the British Broadcasting Corporation  that it was license fee payers who paid these people's wages. Surely it should be considered unlawful to contribute to such atrocious and unacceptable activity - yet the TV licensing authorities appear to be blissfully ignorant of this - which is why I would feel perfectly within my rights to ask the TV inspectors that knock on my door if they are on the sex offenders register. After all, I am perfectly entitled to know where my money is being spent...aren't I? The current model for acquiring revenue for the BBC has gone past its sell by date and is in need of review. With UKIP making serious headway in British politics - do not be surprised if the legislation to renew the Royal charter is repealed altogether, as I have been informed by a senior member of the party that the current model is unsustainable. The BBC then, needs to find other ways to fund its lavish and extravagant lifestyle such as that enjoyed by the presenters aforementioned in order to survive. Will they be able to achieve this? Well, in order to answer that question, we need to quickly pop across the pond to our American counterparts and in the words of President Obama - "Yes we can". So why don't they? Because the current model - supported by members of the public who are intimidated and threatened with court action provides a very comfortable living for BBC executives who will do anything to maintain the status quo.. In the words of Douglas Carswell recent defector from Conservatives to UKIP – “We need change”. The time of reckoning has come. Daddy Rat draws his proverbial sword and offers those who threaten to infringe upon his freedom the opportunity to engage in conflict as I will demonstrate quite clearly to these people...how the hunter... becomes the hunted...and....if a prison sentence is all they have in their armoury against me, I openly declare that in the current economic downturn - I could do with a holiday anyway. Wish me luck won’t you? Oh and please say a little prayer for my beloved wife – She was Mummy Rat... and like me – was a strong advocate of fighting authoritarian regimes like the BBC and TV licensing inspectorate who are so deeply enamelled by their own arrogance they have forgotten the merits of courtesy and respect.

Links of interest:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-29001401

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2723687/Anger-BBC-wasting-10MILLION-sending-licence-fee-threat-letters-nearly-home-Britain-despite-5-evading-payment.html

http://www.ex-bbc.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1408026460

14 comments:

Maryon Jeane said...

Good luck, James, and more power to your elbow. The only thing is, however, that you are actually unlikely to have your day in court because TV Licensing/Capita usually back off when they find opposition. They do very occasionally manage to get search warrants signed in bulk by a poorly-educated and/or idiotic magistrate, slipping in the names of a few people against whom they have not the slightest shred of evidence, but this is fairly rare.

The most likely scenario is that after the threats have escalated to a certain point there will be a short delay and then the warning letter cycle will start again.

Don't forget that, if you do receive a visit, you don't have to say anything at all. A tactic I’ve advocated in the past is to ask to see the identity of the TV Licensing employee and then ask to photocopy or photograph it (they always refuse). When you are refused permission to photocopy the ID card you can laboriously copy out all the information on the card instead, taking your time, at which point sometimes the TV Licensing employee leaves without further ado because they need to achieve a certain amount of visits (and ‘fines’) in a specified time to achieve their commission.

For a period of over two years I simply filed the warning letters, unopened, after date-stamping the envelopes. My intention was to produce them dramatically in court (the scattered bundle would have made quite a dramatic statement) but, unfortunately, after an initial run-in with TV Licensing they have always subsequently backed off. As I was running out of space in my filing cabinet I finally wrote to TV Licensing telling them not to bother me any more and, amazingly (last year) I received a polite letter and a promise that they would not bother me for two years. So far...

My initial run-in with TV Licensing entailed a visit by a male officer to my home quite late one evening (after dark) when I was alone in a very rurally-located cottage. As I was painting a wooden towel-rail with a fast-drying paint at the time, I told the TV Licensing employee that he would have to come in if he wanted to talk to me as I was unable to stop what I was doing. I even offered him a coffee or tea. He didn't refuse my offer politely, he didn’t smile, he wasn't pleasant (or even particularly human) and he treated me from the first as if I were a suspect in a crime. I answered his questions, continuing to paint the while, and then he handed me the form he had been completing for my signature. Unfortunately for him I never sign anything without reading it first, and I found the 'statement' he had written was inaccurate. Amongst other things it said that the television was "installed for use" and that he had been able to get reception on two channels; this was completely untrue as the television was under the (open plan) staircase and needed some awkward manoeuvring to pull it out to a position where it could be viewed, it wasn’t plugged in or even near a socket and, when the TV Licensing employee had tried to get reception all he had managed was a white blizzard. The trolley on which the television was situated had a stack of videos and DVDs (most of them professional, training-type films) on it and it was obvious for what the television was used, when it was used.

Most serious of all was that the statement said that I had "admitted" to using the television. Yes, I had - but not to receive live broadcasts and the implication was obviously that I had admitted to this because nowhere was my clear statement of this fact, nor that the television was used only for viewing pre-recorded material, recorded on the statement form.

[continued...]

Maryon Jeane said...

I duly amended the form, very liberally, before signing it. The TV Licensing employee objected strongly and warned me that the statement was "a legal document" and that it must not be interfered with or amended. I told him that this was not true and that he could either take the statement away unsigned or my amendments would stand. I made sure that the amendments were made in such a way that they could not be removed without the original text being obliterated.

I subsequently received a letter informing me that as I had been found to have a television receiver installed at my property, had admitted ownership of it (which I hadn't as the television wasn't actually mine, my partner had bought it, and I had noted this on the statement), and was therefore in breach of the Communication Act, etc. etc. TV Licensing would be taking me to court. I wrote back refuting all allegations, referring them to my statement (of which I had taken a copy before allowing the TV Licensing employee to have the original) and stating that, if they intended to take me to court, I must have due and sufficient notice of the date and time, with my subsequent acknowledgement of receipt of this notice, so as to ensure that I would be able to attend and refute the allegations again in court. At the same time I noted my distress at having been visited by a lone male employee, after dark, in my home when I was alone, his unpleasant manner towards me, the fact that he had deliberately misrepresented my answers to his questions on the statement form, and their constant harassment of me despite my having told them I did not need a licence.

The next letter I received from TV Licensing, after some delay, was an unreserved apology and a "goodwill" payment of £50 (this was in the early 1990s), together with an assurance that they would not bother me again for two years. The letter after that was a warning letter that my property was noted as unlicensed on their database, etc. etc...

So I wrote again, in no uncertain terms pointing out that they had just investigated me, found me to be completely innocent of watching live broadcasts, and had promised to leave me alone. I said I was considering private court action against them for harassment.

The next letter was a very grovelling apology - and another £50!

[continued]

Maryon Jeane said...

The cycle of letters did start again after a period (not two years, but not too far short), but I just ignored them and from then on adopted the tactic first of binning the letters unopened and, much later, of date stamping them as above.

I have only ever received two visits in the decades I have been licence-free (I've never actually had a 'television' licence because I've never watched live broadcasts at home - I don't particularly like watching television broadcasts), and the other visit was by a guy who was on my doorstep when I opened the door one day, in a frantic hurry to get to work because I'd overslept. He said he was from TV Licensing and, as I shut the door behind me and passed him I said "I don't watch television" - and that was the end of that.

Hope some of this helps. It's very important indeed that we don't just let all this nonsense go by the board because it's a definite and prolonged attack against one of the most sacred tenets of our legal system: that someone is innocent until proven guilty. Let one body get away with this (and don't forget that they've actually placed themselves alongside the police and the Inland Revenue in stop-and-question operations (or stings) against motorists going about their daily honest business), and the door is open to a fundamental loss of freedom.

A negative - and again this is a tenet of our legal system - cannot be proved and therefore it is up to the accuser to prove the accusation. So just rebut and/or refuse to engage (and, if necessary and you feel - as you obviously do - that this aggression should be stopped, use (judicious) attack as the best form of defence).

Good luck - and I’m very sorry for your loss and hope the sorrow lessens soon.

Anonymous said...

If you have not already shredded it, read the latest letter carefully. I doubt they have instituted proceedings. The letter is designed to frighten you and is written in such a way to make you think they are/will prosecute you, in order to make you panic and buy a license you do not need.

They need evidence that you are watching live broadcasts without a license before they can bring proceedings, and if they have not visited, or spoken to you, or executed a warrant, then they have no evidence, and you need not worry.

You are doing the correct thing in simply ignoring the correspondence. If someone does visit, they have as much rights on your doorstep as a double-glazing salesman unless they produce a warrant to enter and search. Say nothing; don't argue or anything - just do not speak - don't give your name. Don't sign anything - absolutely nothing - no matter what the TV License salesman says the document is.

Film the person who comes to the door. Don't speak to them, or bother to tell them you are filming, just film them. If you do not have a camera, then just hold up your phone, or anything that might look like it has a camera on it (not a TV remote, though). The TV License salesman will usually leave promptly.

Christian van Dyken said...

I must admit that I find the BBC's output to be very good, but then again I'm watching it legally in The Netherlands (where the Telly Tax was abolished in 2000)

If the BBC wishes to protect its product from those (like me) who wish to access it without paying, then maybe they should stop broadcasting it willy-nilly across the Western half of Europe?

Daddy Rat said...

Thank You to Maryon Jeane and the others who have responded to my narrative kindly posted by admin on the front page of this marvellous blog on the injustices being perpetrated on those of us who do not need a TV license for one reason or another. I am especially grateful to you Maryon Jeane as your message is extremely informative, and helpful and I hereby thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed message. Thank You for your kind regards on the loss of my beloved wife. Disturbed from the natural process of grieving I have decided to come out fighting and am half way through constructing a letter to the Attorney General to highlight for their attention the abusive practices being employed by the TV licensing authorities. As I mentioned in my blog - the case for the defence is simple. Times have changed. Legislation has not. The BBCi player is not covered by the statutory legislation and therefore no license is required. The arrogance of those attempting to collect the fees does not appear to incorporate this and so I look forward to practicing my litigation skills in a court of law as I really do hope that they instigate proceedings against me. I am hurt from the horrendous death of my wife and shall not hesitate to remind those that choose to lay down threats before me that they themselves must stand ready and prepared to receive the same. I have many arguments up my sleeve including but not limited to my abhorrence at sponsoring misconduct by those who have been convicted of gross and indecent acts against those who were the victims of highly inappropriate conduct. The comments made by Jeremy Clarkson that strikers should be taken out and shot in front of their families does not constitute talent and stardom in my eyes. Not to mention racist comments on not one but two separate occasions. This is indicative of a corporation living in denial and my letter to both the Attorney General and the new Chairwoman of the BBC Trust will be my best attempt to waken them from their slumber and request that they review the current legislation that permits the bullying and intimidation which includes young single mothers with children to feed who are left in tears after their experience with the TV licensing authorities. Like William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling - I'm going to pick a fight - on behalf of all of us. With kind permission from the admin here - I will ask that my letters and subsequent responses are published here for all to see. I write under the pseudonym of Daddy Rat - the affectionate character name given me by my late beloved wife - so when you see posts from me - you'll know that they are being written by someone who is taking this matter seriously. I am also a proud member of UKIP and have begun to investigate the likelihood of the Royal Charter being renewed. Whether this will or will not be the case - I promise you that we are not alone in feeling aggrieved at the abhorrent behaviour of the TV licensing authorities and the BBC who wish to distance themselves from the methods by which their income is gained. If UKIP get a seat in Westminster - change is imminent. Thank You to all of you who have responded to my post. I dearly appreciate the kindness shown to me at such a sensitive time.

Pattonista said...

Further to Christian van Dyken's post above, the BBC might prefer to lobby the EU to allow their Capita goons to visit viewers and potential viewers in the rest of Western Europe to collect licence fees from them. Fairness and proportion being absent from BBC thinking in the matter of the licence, I would not be shocked it did so.


Christian van Dyken said...

@Pattonista:

You may be surprised to hear that the Queen's Writ runneth not in the Netherlands.

I think the Dutch response would be "Opkankeren", but not before laughing heartily in the TV Licensing goons faces.

Fred Bear said...

If the most recent letter starts: 'Dear Sir/Madam, you have not responded to our previous letters. We want to ensure you have the information you may need before a hearing is set at your local court.' then is probably one of their standard mailings - they send millions of such letters each year. Have a look at the freedom of information site What Do They Know for some examples, eg:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/tv_licensing_written_corresponde#incoming-515623

Daddy Rat said...

Thankyou Fred Bear...I dearly appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post and offer your advice. The latest correspondence does indeed commence in the way you have stated. This in my view is unlawful as it threatens court action without evidence which I see as a means for me to capitulate according to their little game of bullying and intimidation. The more of us that stand up and refuse to be treated like this the more we will collectively erode their power to invade and violate our privacy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Fred. Best Regards.

GeeBee said...

What amazes me about TVL and their cronies is this... you need a licence to fish (rod licence) but Defra don't threaten EVERY householder in the UK that they will visit/take them to court if they don't obtain a fishing licence, so why are TVL allowed to get away with their intimidatory tactics?

Fred Bear said...

There are a number of odd things about the letters from 'TV Licensing'. For one thing there isn't an organization called 'TV Licensing' - it's a brand or Trademark. The letters are effectively from the BBC, which owns the trademark. Also the return address is given as Darlington DL98 1TL. However, DL98 1TL is a non-geographic postcode. The TL stands for Television Licensing. Capita's Television Licensing HQ is actually in Darwen, Lancashire.

Fred Bear said...

If you want to find out about the effects of the BBC's letters on elderly or vulnurable people, have a look at the report made by the CAB as a contribution to the BBC Trust's consultation on licence fee collection.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/tvl/tvl_cab.pdf

Anonymous said...

I see details about prosecutions and fines in my local newspaper now and again ; for people who are "caught" watching TV without a valid licence. The only quick way now to stop this nonsense is for THOUSANDS of British citizens to refuse to pay this ridiculous TAX , -en masse ,all across the land .Are we too daft to do this ? The oppressive system would soon be crushed. Are we a democracy or not ?