Monday, 12 October 2009

TV Licencing - rant!

Today I wrote to my MP for the first time! Why?

In 2001, I decided to get rid of my TV (an old colour portable), partly because I hardly ever watched it, but mainly because I suspected that watching TV was increasing the number of my migraine attacks.

Since then I have always kept TV Licencing up to date re the fact that I don't have a TV at the house (or anywhere else!) Every year or so I get a (fairly insulting) letter, implying that I may have bought a TV and somehow forgotten to buy a licence (I presume that anywhere selling a person a TV, Currys or wherever, probably has to tell TV Licencing anyway, so quite how anyone would buy a TV & forget a licence I don't know).

The last time I phoned up, I explained once again a) I don't have a TV, b) have no intention to buy one, c) haven't had a TV since 2001 (which must show as the date of the last licence on their records surely), d) am not remotely interested in watching/don't have time to watch TV - all I hear from friends is that TV is full of reality TV, X-factor talent shows etc., the kind of thing in which I have absolutely no interest. There isn't even a connected TV aerial on the house.

This morning I received a blue leaflet which reads as follows -

It is a criminal offence to watch or record TV without a TV licence.

Our records show that this address still has no licence

We've now passed your address details to our Enforcement Division for investigation. They've put your property on their list for a visit.

If they find evidence that you're watching or recording TV programmes as they are being shown on TV without a licence, you may be prosecuted. We catch around 1,000 evaders a day.


Inside the leaflet, along with some other information about what to expect if you are summoned to court, it reads -

End this investigation by buying a TV licence. You can do it immediately on our website or by phone.

There is then a phone number with information saying that if you don't use TV recording equipment to watch or record programmes as they are being shown on TV, you don't need a licence - I phoned that number to explain that I don't have a TV or TV recording equipment, but was told that my house would still be inspected.

I feel harrassed and intimidated over the whole matter. I feel like I am being branded a liar for not conforming by owning a TV. I do not see why I am being treated like a criminal and having to allow an inspector into my home when I do not have a TV.

I have not idea of TV schedules, don't even recognise well-known people from TV because I've never seen them, and probably can't even work most of the modern TV gadgetry.

I have no interest in TV and absolutely no intention of ever going out and buying one. It is not even possible to watch the BBC's iPlayer (after a programme has been shown on TV and a licence is not required to watch) on the computer as my broadband speed is too slow for the programme to stream properly!

I am aware that, in not having a TV, I am probably in the minority, but do not see why I should be harrassed annually by TV Licencing.

Even if my home has the intrusion of an inspection (I'm wondering if they will go through the house opening cupboards, moving furniture etc. trying to find the non-existent TV), I doubt that it will stop the annual harrassment from TV Licencing.

What is being done to protect the right to privacy in one's own home for those who choose not to involve themselves in the dumbed down TV culture that seems to pervade the UK today?

It will be interesting to see what response I get. Quilters sometimes ask how I manage to get so much stuff made and I joke that I don't do much housework, but the real truth is I don't spend hours in front of a TV every day.

For anyone reading this from overseas, this is a typical example of life in the UK today, as far as I am concerned. The nanny state doesn't believe the innocent citizen.


Unknown said...

By the sound of all that, you must be the only person in the UK without a telly! Good God Girl, what are you thinking - letting the side down like that! A bit of "Dad's Army" I think!

Fight the fight Susan. We have never had to pay TV licences here (we pay for everything else though!).

I lived in London, for a year, when I was 11 - sounds as though not much has changed. I loved the year I had there and 12 years later I went back and looked again! Not as good as I thought but still an amazing place. History everywhere you look!

I would love to visit again. Note visit. If you look at my blog, the heaer photo is a photo I took from my front deck about 4 weeks ago - looking west to the sunset over mt Wellington - who needs TV - that is the view from my sewing machine.



Anonymous said...

They have absolutely NO authority to enter your home. All their letters and leaflets are is bluster (incredibly rude bluster too!).

If you are getting really fed up with them you can remove their Implied Right of Access. Information on that here

The "enforcement officers" are no different to any other member of the public and have no legal right to demand entry to your home. The only time TV licensing can do that is if they have a warrant from a court and a police officer is present (this is actually quite rare and if, as would happen, you don't have a TV you can have fun sueing them for harrassment!)

Janet said...

Susan, we have had the same problem - we have a shop which used to be a house. We have been harrassed in the same way for a few years. They don't seem to believe that anyone can live without TV! Anyway we have also been threatened by a visit (Perhaps by the TV Detector Van LOL) but so far nobody has been.
I,m afraid we do have approx 6 TVs at home though!! And yes we do have a licence for our home addresss.

Lis Harwood said...

What a nightmare Susan. I have the same letters at my holiday chalet in Norfolk where we've never had a TV. You don't get hassle from the gun licensing people when you don't have a gun, or the fishing licence people etc etc, what right do TV licensing have to do this, none I think. Hang in there.