Earlier today we responded to an enquiry about TV ownership by cryptically-named commentator Unknown.
Deviating slightly from the point, we are reminded of this famous Donald Rumsfeld quote: "The message is that there are no "knowns." There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."
Unknown, unlikely to be his real name, owns a brand new Smart TV with all the bells and whistles. He uses Netflix and BBC iPlayer, but the equipment isn't used to receive licensable "live broadcast" TV programmes even though it has the web-connectivity to do so. The equipment is not connected to an external aerial.
He is concerned about TV Licensing's interpretation of such a set-up. Is a TV licence needed simply for having the means to receive TV programmes (e.g. his Smart TV's web connection) even though he chooses not to?
In theory, no TV licence is needed. In practice, trying to convince a commission-hungry, inherently dishonest TV Licensing goon of that fact might prove difficult, but the legislation is quite clear - a TV licence is only needed for those properties where equipment is used or installed for the purposes of receiving TV programmes. A TV licence is not needed merely to possess or own any sort of equipment - it is the act of receiving TV programmes that is licensable.
You can read more about the legislation in our very first blog post on the subject.
Reading his account, it is clear that Unknown's Smart TV is never used to receive TV programmes, but could TV Licensing reasonably argue it is installed for that purpose? Well, if it was connected to a functioning aerial socket and nothing else then it would be fairly simple for TV Licensing to advance that argument.
However, Unknown's Smart TV is actually connected to the web, which affords a wealth of non-live, on-demand content that does not require a TV licence. The presence of a Netflix subscription reinforces his stance that the equipment is used for purposes other than receiving licensable TV programmes, which would seriously undermine any suggestion by TV Licensing that he did.
Of course these are all hypotheticals about what may happen if TV Licensing are unwittingly allowed access to Unknown's property. He seems quite clued-up, so hopefully that will never happen.
Remember that TV Licensing has no automatic right of entry and we strongly discourage anyone from allowing them in voluntarily. Experience shows that cooperating with TV Licensing is often a complete and utter waste of time, as it rarely believes any no-TV claim anyway. It is also true that TV Licensing goons have stitched-up perfectly innocent individuals simply to bump up their commission and meet near-impossible performance targets.
By far the best option is to deprive TV Licensing of information by ignoring its letters and closing the door on its cold-callers.