Why we're here:
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.

If you've just arrived here from a search engine, then you might find our Quick Guide helpful.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

TV Licensing and Laptop Usage

Given TV Licensing's habit of posting half-truths it's hardly surprising that I'm posting a clarification this evening.

The good people of The Student Room forums still seem a little confused about the rules regarding the use of laptops to view television.

The rules are thus:

- A licence is required for any property where equipment is installed or used to receive or record live (as broadcast) TV programmes or, from 1st September 2016, BBC on-demand programmes (e.g. previously broadcast programmes on the BBC iPlayer). This means watching live TV on your laptop requires a licence.
- However, if you are using a device operating on its own internal battery (e.g. an unplugged laptop) then the licence of your usual residence will cover you. For students, this means that if your home address has a valid TV licence you will be able to use your unplugged laptop to watch live TV perfectly legally whilst at university.
- Watching on-demand programmes on services apart from the BBC iPlayer does not require a TV licence - this includes ITV Hub, All 4, My5, Sky Go, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc.

I hope that improves people's understanding of the situation.

STOP PRESS: We have now created a handy guide about TV licence requirements for laptop viewers. Please download it from our Resources page and share it with your friends.

Edit (1/9/16): This is an archive post. Recent changes in legislation mean that a TV licence is now required for any property where equipment is used to receive TV programmes or BBC on-demand programmes. The "loophole" meaning students can receiving licensable programmes on an unplugged laptop/tablet without buying an additional licence still remains. Much more information in our future Student Guide to TV Licence Rules post.

TV Licensing Drip Feed Misinformation

I was browsing cyberspace as I often do in the pursuit of TV Licensing related articles and I happened across the Yahoo! Answers site.

For those unfamiliar with it, as I was until recently, it allows people to pose questions for others to answer. People can also vote on suggested answers to show their agreement or otherwise. Quite alarming is the number of Yahoo! Answers members who have become "experts" by providing dubious information to say the least.

One question in particular drew my attention: "Do I want to pay TV licence fee if I go to www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer to watch recorded programs?" Excuse the poor sentence structure, as originally posted by the questioner.

The last words of the question, underlined by me, make it perfectly clear that the questioner wants to watch pre-recorded programmes on the iPlayer, which definitely does not require a TV licence. The top answer therefore provides incorrect information so please give it a thumbs down if you can.

Remember that a TV licence is only required where equipment is used to receive or record live (as broadcast) television signals. A licence is not required for viewing pre-recorded media of any description.

I am pretty confident there are undercover BBC employees posting misinformation on sites like Yahoo! Answers, with the intention of deceiving people into paying for a licence they do not need.

Coincidentally, a comment left here earlier reinforces the idea that TV Licensing are deliberately economical with the truth when it comes to the legalities of when a licence is required.

The commenter said: "I have just had an interesting conversation with someone who is a magistrate. It appears that the guidance they are given means that they are directed to find people guilty of licence evasion even if the person up in front of them in court is simply in POSSESSION of a TV, although there is no evidence of the person WATCHING TV without a licence."

If true that is absolutely scandalous. In effect it means innocent people are being convicted of an offence they have not committed.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Another Brace of TV Licensing Crooks

Following the BBC's half-arsed response to our recent Freedom of Information Act request about the criminality of TV Licensing employees, we thought we'd throw two more names into the mix.

You might remember BBC legal adviser Dan McGregor said he couldn't reveal the names, because such personal information was exempt under the FOIA. Today we have no hesitation in naming two more TV Licensing crooks who have swindled money in the course of their official duties.

Step forward Kevin Hamilton of Newton Heath, Greater Manchester and Oluwagbenga Olaniyan of Gravesend, Kent.

Hamilton stole £3,000 worth of cash payments taken in his role as a TV Licensing enquiry officer, working for Capita Business Services Ltd. His fraud was uncovered when one of his victims complained that she hadn't received her TV licence despite having paid for it weeks earlier. In a desperate bid to avoid detection Hamilton falsely claimed his receipt book and cash were stolen during a mugging, which he even reported to the police. Hamilton was convicted of fraud at Manchester Crown Court in May 2010.

Olaniyan fabricated interview records, because he was struggling to meet stiff performance targets demanding that TV Licensing enquiry officers catch at least one evader every hour. Fearing the loss of his £16,000 a year job with Capita Business Services Ltd. the father of four decided to create some incriminating interview statements, thus bumping up his success rate. The deceit was uncovered when one of Olaniyan's randomly selected victims complained about being summoned to court when she didn't even have a television. Olaniyan was convicted of four counts of false accounting and one of perverting the course of justice at Maidstone Crown Court in October 2008.

That's now four down with seven to go.

Stay tuned for the next gripping instalment of TV Licensing name and shame.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Nerve

Can you believe the cheek of these bastards?

Fergus Reid, TV Licensing PR mouthpiece, has the audacity to sign up to our email subscriptions: fergus.reid@smarts.co.uk

It must be a right hoot reading everything we write here Fergus, particularly as we're always very careful to back it up with supporting material.

Spambots do your worst!

Criminal TV Licensing Employees

The BBC has revealed that eleven TV Licensing enquiry officers have been convicted of criminal offences committed in the course of their employment since 2005.

The shocking revelation comes a month after our dogged pursuit of the BBC forced them to admit for the first time that TV detector van evidence has never been used in court.

Using the Freedom of Information Act we asked the BBC to identify those TV Licensing employees convicted of criminal wrongdoing in the pursuit of their official TVL duties. Cheekily we aired some of the BBC's dirty linen in public by using the request as a further platform to shame two of the BBC's most irrepressible TV Licensing crooks - David Clark and Richard Llewellyn. 

Replying to our request for information, BBC legal advisor Dan McGregor said: "In addition to the two individuals you have identified in your request, nine TV Licensing enquiry officers have been convicted of criminal offences committed during the course of their TV licensing (sic) duties.

"All nine convictions were for fraud / theft related offences. I would note that TV licensing (sic) employs a large number of enquiry officers and that these nine individuals (together with the two you have identified) therefore represent a very small proportion of the total group. Further, I would note that the criminal activity of each of these individuals was discovered by TV Licensing itself through the use of robust fraud auditing processes."

Unfortunately McGregor refused to name and shame the other TV Licensing convicts, citing data protection exemptions to the FOIA. As we understand it those convicted of criminal activity lose their right to anonymity, although this is not a point of law we consider necessary to pursue on this occasion.

That said people have the right to know who these convicted TV Licensing scumbags are, so we reserve the right to use alternative identification methods.

And we will.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

TV Licensing - Extorting the Non-TV Viewing Public

Those who have read the welcome page will know that I've considered TV Licensing an utterly odious organisation since my student days.

Back then I didn't possess a TV. Taking my first tentative steps into the big wide world I wasn't knowledgeable about TVL's despicable modus operandi, so I made the mistake of declaring my TV-free status to them. It got me nowhere. The incessant stream of red-daubed envelopes and intimidation continued. I, like many others, had been hoodwinked into believing TV Licensing had some authority and legal standing over me - even as someone who never used a TV.

Step forward more than a decade and little has changed in that respect. The arrogance of TV Licensing is still such that they consider it acceptable to smear and terrorise law abiding individuals in their own homes.

A reader of mine has sent me his thoughts on how TV Licensing's actions border on the brink of illegality:

A letter that demands money that you owe is called a "Final Demand". Such a letter may outline the consequences of not paying the debt and, as threatening as it may seem, it is perfectly within the law to do so.

A letter that demands money you do not owe is, at best, an error. If it is not an error and is sent on the assumption that you will feel sufficiently intimidated to pay even if you owe nothing, it is called "extortion" if successful and "attempted extortion" if unsuccessful. Either way, it is a crime.

The letters from TV Licensing do not clearly state the circumstances under which a licence is not required. The letters never acknowledge the possibility, for example, that you may not possess a TV. It acknowledges that (a) you may have paid within the last few days or (b) you may have forgotten to pay or (c) you may have moved and forgotten to notify them of your new address. The limited options presented in the letters are pay up or face the consequences and a £1000 fine.

1. The threats:

Visit from an "Enforcement Officer":
You are threatened with a visit from an "enforcement officer". The only official role of enforcement officer is held by the police. The TV Licensing "enforcement officer" has no powers of enforcement whatsoever. The letter never states the limitations of the "enforcement officer's" powers, largely because they have no power other than that of an ordinary citizen. They cannot demand right of entry into your property to establish whether or not you own a TV, they cannot demand money from you and they cannot issue any threats of any kind unless they have evidence that you are using a TV. It is not your responsibility to provide evidence that you do not own a TV. It is their responsibility to provide evidence that you do. If they attempt to enter your property or misinform you that you are obliged to grant them access, they have committed a crime. If they threaten you with a fine if you fail to provide evidence that you do not own a TV, they have committed a crime. If they demand any kind of payment, they have committed a crime.

£1000 fine:
The letter may imply that you could become liable for a £1000 fine simply for not purchasing a TV licence (regardless of whether or not you own a TV). You can only be fined if you are watching TV without a licence and, as already stated, you are under no obligation to provide evidence that you do not own a TV. You are not even legally obliged to inform them that you do not own a TV. The onus is 100% on TV Licensing to (a) establish whether or not you are watching TV without a licence and (b) to provide evidence that you are watching TV without a licence.

Criminal record:
You will be told that you will not only incur a fine but you will also have a criminal record. This is only the case if you have actually committed a crime.

2. The demands:

The letters do not state your legal rights, do not clearly state the circumstances under which a licence is not required and do not even acknowledge any circumstances under which a licence is not required. The letter simply demands that you purchase a licence. This is attempted extortion and should be challenged through the courts.

Neither you nor I could legally send demands for money to random addresses on the off-chance that they may owe you money. If you do so... particularly if you also issue threats... without sufficient evidence or reason to believe that the recipient actually does owe you money, you are breaking the law. TV Licensing are not above the law and they must be challenged on this bullying scam through the courts.

This could conceivably be done by one person but it would be more effective, and would attract more embarrassing press interest if it were done by a large group of people. I successfully put a stop to the threatening letters by stating that I would regard any further letters of this nature as attempted extortion and would be challenging it through the courts. Although TV Licensing state that, if you can satisfy them that you do not own a TV, you will be exempt from receiving these letters for two years, I have not heard from them for over four years and do not expect to hear from them again. Clearly, they are aware of the legal fragility of their position. However, personally, I don't have a case because they don't send me the letters anymore.

So, if a challenge were to be pursued, it must be done by those who (a) do not own a TV and (b) are receiving regular threats from TV Licensing.

There are other circumstances such as people who continue to receive demands after they have already purchased a licence but these are the grey areas in which TV Licensing can claim "administrative error". To have a clear case of attempted extortion, it would be necessary to show that the plaintiffs are being targeted without any evidence or justifiable reason to believe that they own a TV and are able to show that they do not own a TV and that TV Licensing has no justifiable reason to suspect that they do own a TV.

There are almost bound to be a number of people who do not own a TV but have been sufficiently intimidated by the letters that they have purchased a licence they do not require. This would be particularly applicable to recent immigrants who do not fully understand the law. The letters state that "This address is not licensed" and that statement alone implies that anyone who has an address must be licensed. The letters imply that it is a criminal offense if your address is not licensed by TV Licensing. It would be an understandable error and certainly one that I might make if I were in a strange country.

I know for a fact that a great number of people in certain care homes purchase unnecessary licences. Many care homes provide residential units which are official addresses of the residents. Care home also usually have a communal area where a TV is situated. That TV is covered by the care home's licence. Only residents who have a TV in their own rooms need a separate licence and many don't bother because there is one in the communal area they can watch whenever they want.

Residents who do not have their own TV are sent these letters and, because they watch the communal TV, believe they are obliged to purchase a licence. Although they are told by care staff that they need not worry and can safely ignore the letter, many reason that they have a letter from an official authority stating that they are breaking the law and may face a £1000 fine, while they are being told by someone with no official authority whatsoever that they can ignore it. Many purchase a licence to be on the safe side. I know this to be the case because I have worked in such care homes.

Such people have a case for actual extortion.

A large court case would force the BBC to revise the way that licence fees are collected.

As long as we continue to confine ourselves to complaining but take no action, nothing will change. We can force change by taking action and forcing the law to work in our favour.

Let's either put a stop to it or put up with it but let's stop whining, shall we?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

TV Licensing Lies, Deceit and Intimidation - Write to Watchdog!

I quite like the BBC's Watchdog programme.

The idea of the little people squashing cheats, bullies and swindlers is quite appealing. The way their illegal or immoral actions are exposed to the entire nation fills me with a certain degree of satisfaction.

Then I thought: What better way to deal with TV Licensing then to set the BBC's Watchdog programme onto them?

I mean Watchdog likes nothing better than to challenge rogue organisations that harass and intimidate law-abiding individuals in the comfort of their own homes. Taking on TV Licensing, which regularly spits venom at genuine non-TV users by sending them threatograms, should be right up their alley.

So if you want to join my crusade please download this letter to Watchdog and send it to them.

It gives you a flavour of what you could write. It's a Word document so if necessary you can tailor it to your own needs. You can send it either by post (address on letter) or email: watchdog@bbc.co.uk

Please forward the link to as many people as you possibly can and spread the word. If you're a user of Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook or Twitter all the better.

Together we can tackle the culture of TV Licensing lies, deceit and intimidation!

TV Licensing Operations Shortlist

As many readers will know Capita Business Services Ltd. hold the contract to perform most of TV Licensing's dirty work.

To the untrained eye the BBC maintains a healthy distance from its ethically devoid TV Licensing arm. It wouldn't do for the nation's favourite broadcaster to send out threatograms and doorstep snoopers under their own name, hence the use of the TV Licensing trademark to maintain a shroud of mystique.

Make no mistake that TV Licensing's dubious tactics are sanctioned at the highest level of the BBC, who are well aware of the harassment and intimidation performed in the name of licence fee enforcement. Parliament has told them as much.

Capita's 12-year contract comes to an end in 2012.

The BBC has just announced that four companies have been shortlisted for the award of the new TV Licensing operations contract next year.

And the losers are: Accenture, Cap Gemini, Capita and IBM.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pensioner Wrongly Hounded by TV Licensing

TV Licensing have bombarded a Lincoln pensioner with over 60 threatening letters demanding payment of a fee he didn't owe.

Despite 66-year-old Graham Rawson's best efforts, it has taken him more than 4 years and countless telephone calls to convince the BBC's menacing TV licence enforcement arm of his correctly licensed status.

Graham has been paying the fee by Direct Debit, but an error on the TV Licensing database meant the organisation's trademark "threatograms" continued to land on his doormat every month. 

To add substance to their hollow threats the maligned organisation even sent one of their enforcers to exert their own special brand of doorstep intimidation on the bemused former engineering machinist. Obviously looking for a quick and dishonest profit (like Richard Llewellyn et. al.) the TVL knuckle dragger even demanded that Graham handed over his TV.

Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo, Graham said: "It has made me angry because you hear in the papers about these TV licence dodgers, but I have done nothing wrong.

"It makes you question how many other people have a licence but are being told they haven't. It could be very confusing for the people who are elderly or infirm."

TV Licensing PR spiv Mark Whitehouse tried to defend the organisation's continued unscrupulous tactics.

He said: "According to our records, Mr Rawson's address is correctly licensed. However, he has been receiving letters in error due to a duplicate address on our system. In addition we had an incorrect initial for his first name.

"We have now arranged for the second address to be deleted and have amended the detail of the initial. This means Mr Rawson will no longer receive letters saying he is not licensed.

"Unfortunately, with 25 million licences, errors can sometimes occur. We would urge anyone who is receiving mailings from us when they already have a licence to get in touch with us so we can check out the reasons."

Although as we've heard on countless occasions getting in touch with TV Licensing requires a ouija board at the best of times!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Dyslexic TV Licensing Visitor Calls

It's "Blogspot" you tool.

Hope you and your mates are enjoying our articles!

(PS. Don't expect the Beeb to renew your contract next year)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Withdrawing Implied Rights of Access - A Tutorial

Regular readers will know already that when TV Licensing call on a property they have no more visiting rights than the milkman or window cleaner. 

In fact, it is even possible to extinguish their negligible visiting rights by telling them you have withdrawn their implied right of access to your property.

TV Licensing officials are not always candid about their lack of authority. We know of many examples where their doorstep salesmen have threatened to fetch the law or return with a search warrant. What they actually do in these cases is skulk around the corner, jump into their clapped out Cortina and start blubbing that they lost their commission on that one.

It is important to note that an organisation as bumptious and arrogant as the BBC, that think they make the law, do not appreciate people asserting their lawful rights against the unwarranted attentions of TV Licensing. Anyone choosing to withdraw the implied right of access to their property is warned that it might serve to heighten TV Licensing's interest. By making it more difficult for TV Licensing to access the property voluntarily, they are increasing the probability of TV Licensing obtaining a search warrant later on.

Most people who withdraw TV Licensing's implied right of access are at their wits end, having endured years of accusatory letters, doorstep cold callers and telephone enquiries about their licence-free status.

Thanks to an emailed contribution by one of my readers, I guide you through the process of withdrawing TV Licensing's access rights.

Firstly, you write them a letter explaining that you are the legal occupier of such and such an address. You have suffered years worth of their harassment despite living a perfectly lawful TV-free existence. You resent the fact that TV Licensing coerce you into proving your innocence, despite them having no evidence whatsoever of your guilt. You also tell them that any visits to your property after the date of your instruction will constitute harassment and trespass, which you will not hesitate to seek legal redress for through the courts. Here is the letter that my contributor sent to TV Licensing:

Secondly, you await their response. This being TV Licensing, operating on behalf of a legally arrogant and bumptious organisation like the BBC, they will undoubtedly attempt to bullshit you into providing your name. You should never do that. Your instruction is equally valid without providing a name. If you give your name you are providing them with information they are not legally entitled to - information they will use against you later on. Do not tell them your name. Here are two examples of their response letter:

Thirdly, sit back and enjoy the TV-free comfort of your home without the worry of TV Licensing doorstep harassment. Because they churn out their shitty letters at such an alarming rate, there will probably be a couple in the system. Hopefully you'll get some respite from the letters too once your instruction has been drip fed to the pariahs sending them out.

If you've chosen to live in TV-free harmony then you are entitled to enjoy the comfort of your home without the harassment of TV Licensing. Tell the bastards nothing and you've nothing to fear.

If you've found this article useful please share it with your friends and consider using our Amazon referral link for your shopping.

Edit: TV Licensing has recently chosen to disregard all WOIRA instructions issued in relation to Scottish properties, on the basis that the law of tresspass is different in Scotland. Since the policy change was have seen worrying instances where TV Licensing goons have been asked to leave a property, but have refused. Anyone in this situation should call the police and report TV Licensing's threatening behaviour.

Edit: Further detailed information about the BBC's WOIRA policy can now be found in this post. You can download a template WOIRA letter from our Resources page.

Get our latest posts straight to your inbox: Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner