The Daily Telegraph has revealed today that millions of people are being over-charged on their TV licence fees as the BBC sells them an annual licence that only last eleven months.
The Corporation has been making as much as £25 million a year through the little-known loophole, which we have previously discussed here at the TV Licensing blog.
As the paper explains: "Any viewer buying a TV licence for the first time is charged £145.50 for a year-long permit."
"But under current arrangements, the new licence expires 12 months from the first day of the month in which it is purchased. This means that an ‘annual’ licence bought on April 30 2012 will actually run out at midnight on March 31 2013.
"Licence fee payers have complained that the payment quirk means they are getting as little as 11 months’ worth of licence when they have paid for a full year."
A spokesman for TV Licensing, or rather their PR harlots Fishburn Hedges, denied that the BBC was short-changing customers. Their argument, consistent as ever, is that changing the renewal system would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, which would not be in the economic interests of the licence-fee payer.
We dispute their maths.
John Whittingdale MP, chair of the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: "I entirely understand why people think it is unfair. They are having an average of 15 and anything up to 30 days of TV watching - which they think they have paid for - taken away from them."
"I quite understand why people feel they’re being ripped off."
Very tellingly, he concluded: "I think the licence fee as a way of financing the BBC has become anachronistic."
So do we Mr Whittingdale.