Yesterday the following three readers' letters were published on the Sunday Times' money page.
The letters were printed under the heading "Hounded by TV Licensing":
The biggest problem with TV Licensing is the amount of money that is wasted in administration and postal charges on the continuous loop of letters because details are not updated ("Let us pray... that the TV Licensing people leave us alone", printed last week). As a director of a charity, I have personal experience of the lack of response from this organisation.
At one time, one of our centres operated as a care home and residents had their own TV licences. The home was closed and the property made over to use as a functions venue more than 10 years ago, at which time we notified TV Licensing that there were only two televisions, for which we had a licence.
Over subsequent years we have still received a stream of correspondence chasing money for licences for every room that previously had a licence (plus some that didn't exist).
We have re-sent the relevant forms, and telephoned and written in an effort to stop the stream of paperwork, which ranges from reminders to the threatening. I have even written directly to the head of TV Licensing, without the slightest response.
For some years we have made a collection of all the correspondence, amounting to hundreds of letters. It is happening to us and to many other people, as evidenced by letters to your column, what is the cost of this? Is there anyone at TV Licensing, or have the staff just left the computers churning out letters while they have all gone home?
- UR, Evesham, Worcestershire.
I believe deeply in British values, such as the trust in my compatriots to pay their dues, so I totally fail to understand why I should spend my time responding to the TV Licensing people. By what right can they demand that I contact them?
For two years we renovated a property. There was no TV in the premises, but TV Licensing provided an increasingly rude and obnoxious diet of letters at least every quarter, including a very carefully worded threat of court proceedings.
We ignored them all because none offered even the slightest apology, or indeed incentive, for us to do their job. Tellingly, nothing happened.
- SM, Folkestone, Kent.
This is merely to let you know that we have received another reminder from TV Licensing - the 69th arrived on Christmas Eve. It was good to know that we hadn't been forgotten and our Christmas was all the better for it.
- GW, Liskeard, Cornwall.
We fully expect one of TV Licensing's PR harlots to get in touch with the Sunday Times in an effort to redress the balance.
You can virtually predict their sanctimonious twoddle before they write it - "We have a legal duty to check on the status of every unlicensed property"; "Almost one-in-five of those that say they don't need a TV licence, actually do when we check on them"; "We owe it to the honest majority that pay to pursue those that don't"; "Anyone watching TV without a valid TV licence faces the risk of a £1,000 fine and a criminal record"- yada yada yada.
The simple fact is that TV Licensing could satisfy its legal duty to enquire on the status of an unlicensed property in a single letter. There is no need for it to send letter after letter after letter, particularly to those properties where the occupier has gone out of their way to reply. The only reason it sends letter after letter after letter is to grind the recipient into submission - to browbeat them into paying for a TV licence they probably don't even need.
A few other points we'd highlight to the writers of those letters:
- The BBC, as Television Licensing Authority, is legally responsible for all aspects of TV Licensing. It is the BBC that employs the contractors that threaten people under the guise of TV Licensing. A senior BBC manager approves the wording of every TV Licensing threatogram. The BBC thinks it is entirely justified for TV Licensing to use the coercive tactics it does.
- No-one is under any legal obligation at all to respond to any TV Licensing letter. Doing so is a totally futile effort, as TV Licensing will not believe anyone claiming not to need a TV licence. Anyone receiving a TV Licensing letter is encouraged to throw it straight in the bin, where it belongs.
- TV Licensing has no more right to visit an unlicensed property than anyone else. TV Licensing goons do not have the automatic right to enter any property, but they may ask to do so with the occupier's consent. Such a request should always be denied, as TV Licensing goons cannot be trusted.
We really cannot stress enough that TV Licensing, despite its pompous air of pseudo-officialdom, is nothing more than a sales racket orchestrated by the BBC. It is the BBC threatening people into paying for BBC services, using the veil of TV Licensing to disguise the fact.
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