As regular readers will know, we frequently browse the internet looking for TV Licensing related articles and trivia. Every day someone has a new take on what the TV licence fee is, what it's for and how it's enforced.
Today we present our fourth instalment in the "Rapid Fire" series of posts, where we endeavour to remove the mystique surrounding TV licence rules and regulations. In this edition we shall explore some of the Google search terms that have recently driven traffic to our humble little blog.
Before we begin you might find it useful to consult our earlier Rapid Fire post.
1. What does the TV licence pay for?
Ans: The TV licence fee, in a roundabout way, funds the operations of the BBC.
The BBC, as statutory Television Licensing Authority, is responsible for the collection of the TV licence fee and enforcement of the TV licence system. It does this under the guise of TV Licensing.
After collecting licence fee revenue the BBC pays it into the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's consolidated fund. The DCMS then pays a sizable chunk of that revenue back to the BBC, for it to spend on things like "creative output", "talent", taxis, champagne, pay-offs, pensions, silencing critics and compensating victims.
You can read a lot more about the unique way the BBC is funded in our earlier post on the subject.
2. Why does it cost more to pay a TV licence quarterly?
Ans: In case anyone didn't realise, it actually costs £5 more to pay for an annual TV licence by quarterly Direct Debit (£150.50 instead of the normal £145.50 fee).
It seems perverse that the system penalises people choosing to pay by this method, as a significant proportion of those lack the means to pay the annual £145.50 fee all in one go.
TV Licensing is regularly challenged on the unfairness of the £5 premium and always comes out with the same well-rehearsed answer: "The Government decides the cost of paying the TV licence fee by different methods".
Annoyingly, TV Licensing is correct about that.
3. Do I need to tell TV Licensing that I don't have a TV?
Ans: Absolutely not.
A legitimate non-TV viewer is under no legal obligation whatsoever to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing, and we strongly discourage them from doing so.
There is an argument - oft mooted by pro-BBC luvvies - that if you've got nothing to hide, why would you be "awkward" with TV Licensing?
The answer is simple: TV Licensing rarely believes anyone making a "No Licence Needed" (NLN) claim. Quite often TV Licensing continues to harass the occupiers of a NLN property regardless.
Furthermore, in a twenty-first century democracy why should anyone be bullied into paying for a TV licence they don't legally need, or proving their innocence of an offence they have never committed.
4. What can I do about harassment by TV Licensing?
Ans: The no contact approach is probably the best option.
Simply ignore TV Licensing completely. Do not respond to its letters and do not engage with its legally impotent doorsteppers. Do not give TV Licensing any information it is not legally entitled to.
TV Licensing is not worthy to inhale the fart vapours of a legally-licence-free person.
That said, we recognise that some members of the legally-licence-free community like to challenge TV Licensing's lack of authority.
Read more about how one of our readers successfully sued TV Licensing.
5. Do TV Licensing always prosecute?
TV Licensing only prosecutes an adult who normally lives at the property where licence fee evasion is alleged to have taken place. This will invariably be the same adult who has been subject to a prosecution interview under caution (a "Code 8" in TV Licensing jargon).
All TV Licensing prosecutions rely solely on evidence collected on TVL178 Record of Interview forms during "Code 8" interviews. Code 8 interviews are only valid in certain circumstances, which means there are some situations where prosecution cannot occur (read more here).
TV Licensing states that each prosecution must satisfy both evidential and public interest tests, although we have serious doubts about the veracity of that claim. TV Licensing also states that the public interest is rarely served by prosecuting genuine babysitters or those who are seriously ill, disabled or mentally incapacitated.
6. How do I complain about TV Licensing?
Ans: The TV Licensing complaints process is a time-consuming and convoluted process, which is no doubt designed to sicken complainants into giving up.
If you choose to take a journey down the complaints route you should always do so in writing, because TV Licensing has an annoying habit of failing to record intangiable information it receives (particularly that critical of TV Licensing).
You can find more details in our earlier post on the subject.
7. How can I stop TV Licensing letters?
Ans: As mentioned earlier, the no contact approach is probably the best option. Simply place unopened TV Licensing threatograms straight in the bin, or the cat's litter tray, where they belong.
Anyone up for the fight could threaten to sue TV Licensing for the costs incurred having to deal with its noxious correspondence. Our reader Phil did just that and made TV Licensing pay for his inconvenience.
8. What is the address of TV Licensing's [insert name]?
Ans: We get a lot of people arriving here looking for information about TV Licensing's "Enforcement Managers" Colin Bright, Seldon Simms, Steve Latham, Paul Willars, Sarah Armstrong, John Hales, Gordon Smith, Jane Powell, Jane Jeffers, Michelle Tunstall et al.
These people, who are employed by TV Licensing operations contractor Capita Business Services Ltd, do not work from a physical office within their "Enforcement Division". Come to mention it, they have probably never even visited the "Enforcement Division" they purportedly manage.
Like a lot of things TV Licensing does, the "Enforcement Division" is a fantasy for deterrent purposes. It is designed to instil fear in the local TV licence dodgers.
9. Do you need a TV licence for Now TV?
Ans: As we regularly remind our readers, a TV licence is needed by any property where equipment is used to receive TV programmes at the same time (or virtually the same time) as they are broadcast to the wider public.
That being the case, a TV licence would be required for a property where Now TV equipment was used to watch TV programmes at the same time as they were broadcast to other members of the public.
A TV licence would not be required for a property where Now TV equipment was only used to watch non-live on-demand content.
10. Is there a reward for reporting someone to TV Licensing?
Ans: Other than securing their place in the fires of hell, there is no reward for TV Licensing snitches.
Anyone inclined to commit such an act of public spiritness, could perform the equally commendable act of jumping from the top of Beachy Head.