Wednesday, 23 April 2008

BBC Licence Fee 'It's all in the database'

Television Licensing (run mainly by Capita on behalf of the BBC) is running a new advertising campaign to frighten people into paying their TV licence.

A colour TV licence costs £139.50 - payable under law, if you own a TV, video recorder or set top box.

"Your town. Your Street. Your Home. They're all in the database"

The new campaign's tag line is: 'It's all in the database'. It's a bold line considering the bad publicity surrounding loss of personal data by large organisations recently. Of course the Big Brother notion is designed to be menacing.

What the TV Licensing campaign doesn't tell you is exactly what's in this 'database'.

In fact its just a list of every UK address!

TV Licensing works on the principle that every UK household has a TV - 29.5 million homes - unless you can prove otherwise. There are 25 million licences in force which means they write to the other 4.5 million address repeatedly until they get a satisfactory reason as to why you don't own a TV. If you don't reply, eventually they send round an inspector. Write back and say you don't have a TV and they'll send round an inspector anyway - to check you're not telling porkies.

So 'It's all in the database' means simply - we've got a list of all the addresses in the UK.

It costs £133m a year to collect the Licence Fee (which goes exclusively to the BBC, they receive £3.2b a year from it). Last year £10.7m was spent on postage - writing to the 4.5m homes without a TV licence.

TV Licensing send out 60 million letters a year. It is about the most un-scientific method of detection imaginable.

Last year there were over 31,000 complaints made to TV Licensing from harrassed members of the public.

TV Licensing simply uses 5 escalating levels of threatening letter addressed to 'The Occupant' to pursuade you to pay up. They claim to catch an average of 1,000 unlicensed people a day - 365,000 a year. The BBC won't say how many are actually prosecuted.

So now you know what 'It's all in the database' means. They've got a list of addresses.


Anonymous said...

I am one of those 365,000 people with no TV licence. That is because I have no TV. I refuse to fund Government Propaganda through the licence fee.

Whilst we need a TV licence, I will have no TV.

I have found it best NEVER to respond to TVLA. To reply not only dignifies their insulting correspondence, but it also encourages the incorrigible wretches.

The Chief Executive said...

TV Licensing does assume guilt until home owners without a TV can prove their innocence. This does seem unfair. They say its because when they send an inspector to check on people who say they have no TV 40% turn out to be lying.

The BBC is undermining the licence fee with the iPlayer which allows users to watch BBC programmes with no TV licence. Now the BBC plans to stream BBC One live on the web - policing computer owners who watch TV without a licence will prove even more impossible than imposing a TV licence on home owners.

I own a property with no TV licence - and no TV. Eventually I managed to stop TV licensing wasting our money writing to me.