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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Campaign Gathers Momentum

The BBC and TV licence fee are facing uncomfortable media scrutiny in the wake of the recent Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand abusive phone calls saga.

The Telegraph letters page has been absolutely packed with letters condemning the on-air antics of Ross and Brand, with particular emphasis on the amount they (and many other BBC fat cats) are paid for doing virtually nothing. Not surprisingly, this has drawn attention to the system of funding the Corporation - namely the television licence fee.

Below is a selection of letters recently published in the newspaper:

1. Sir - Enforcing payment of the licence fee is not as efficient as Richard Spooner suggests (Letters, November 5).

TV Licensing has no power to enter a house without permission. The feared detector van is a myth - no one has ever been prosecuted on this sort of evidence. TV Licensing relies on frightening letters and fear to do its job.

Ian Crompton, Alvaston, Derbyshire

2. Sir - Ian Crompton was wrong to say that detector vans are a myth (Letters, November 7). We would not enter a house without the owner's permission but, if we have reason to believe evasion is taking place, we may use detection equipment and search warrants.

Detector vans are used in conjunction with handheld detectors and our database of addresses to pinpoint those watching programmes without a licence. We send letters to unlicensed addresses and, if no response is received, the letters become stronger in tone as, unfortunately, many people will not buy a licence unless the consequences of watching television without one are made clear.

Ian Fannon, TV Licensing, London WC2

3. Sir – I note that Ian Fannon of TV Licensing is careful not actually to claim that the detection devices work as the public are led to believe.

It is well known in scientific circles that there is no basis for these vans.

If they do work, now seems a good time to lay out the proof.

Clive Godber, Hull

4. Sir – Mr Fannon kindly informs us: "We would not enter a house without the owner’s permission."

It should be understood that TV Licensing has no powers to step one inch on to private land, which includes most gardens, driveways and blocks of flats.

It is even doubtful that they have any powers to knock on doors; a postman has "implied authority" to do this.

It is hard to see how anything can be "pinpointed" by "detector vans" and "hand-held detectors".

I suspect that much fluster and bluff surrounds this operation.

Michael Taylor, New Malden, Surrey

5. Sir – Mr Fannon seems to be under the impression that, when "a response is received", anyone takes any notice of it.

I have contacted TV Licensing three times over the past year to inform it that my mother has died and that the house she owned is empty.

Not only does it continue to send more menacing letters to that address, but it is still writing to my mother.

Perhaps I should apply for her free licence on her behalf, which she would have been entitled to anyway because of her age, to stop the letters that make me feel like a criminal each time I open them.

Sarah Armstrong, Norwich

6. Sir – These missives tell the householder only how to buy a licence and not how to inform TV Licensing that there is no television set on the premises.

Law-abiding citizens are therefore left with little option but to ignore the letters and put up with what is nothing short of outright harassment.

Michael Hughes, Wickham Market, Suffolk

7. Sir – It is a shame Mr Fannon does not show more understanding, instead of sending out dictatorial letters in such a cavalier manner.

He says his tone gets stronger with time, but it starts by being downright offensive and goes downhill.

I have had two empty properties and in each case his method has been the same: imply that I am guilty and then threaten me with more menacing letters.

He had only to get out of his ivory detector tower and arrange a visit to appreciate that neither house had the equipment to receive a signal.

Alternatively, a polite letter in the first instance would have got an equally polite return of "nothing here" from me.

We are not all felons crouching behind the curtains.

J.R. Wall. Dearham, Cumbria

8. Sir – Ian Fannon of TV Licensing states that threatening letters are sent to unlicensed addresses.

They are also sent to licensed addresses. I have had 95 letters, plus telephone calls.

They do not seem to consider that their database may be to blame.

Dr Nigel Knott, Farleigh Wick, Wiltshire

9. Sir – The simple answer is to respond by saying that it is illegal to harass people for money they don’t owe, and that if you hear from them again you will put the matter in the hands of your solicitor.

I have found this very effective in similar situations.

Susan Wyatt, JP, Hayfield, Derbyshire

10. Sir – I received my television licence, addressed correctly to number 12b. In the same post, I received a letter accusing me of not having a licence.

It was addressed to me incorrectly at number 12. I rang to inform TV Licensing of its mistake.

A rude operative implied I was being dishonest, and that there were two Stephen Holdens living at separate flats.

Stephen Holden, London SE1

11. Sir – I have never owned a television, but when an old aerial became partially detached from the chimney, I discovered that removing it completely meant that TV Licensing finally ceased to contact me.

Perhaps detector vans do not contain expensive equipment, simply a driver with a pairof binoculars.

Dr Carole Thornett, Stockleigh Pomeroy, Devon

12. Sir – As far as I am aware, it is not yet illegal not to own a television set.

Pat Taylor, Fetcham, Surrey

13. Sir – May I suggest that the zeal with which TV Licensing pursues non-existent, non-paying television viewers be transferred to the Child Support Agency, in order to pursue existent, non-paying, errant fathers.

Stafford Trendall, Overton, Hampshire

Interestingly Ian Fannon of TV Licensing actually works for one of their PR companies, Fishburn Hedges.

Thanks to BBCResistance.com forums for citing this useful correspondence.

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