The law makes the Licensing Authority responsible for the administration, collection and enforcement of the TV licence fee.
A lot of people don't realise that the Licensing Authority, as defined by statute, is the BBC. That's right folks, in the UK we have the farcical situation where the BBC is responsible for collecting licence fees to support the BBC. The more zealously the BBC pursues licence fee payment the more benefit it derives.
It wouldn't do for the BBC to openly send threatening TV licence reminder letters to members of the general public, many of whom have fond memories of curling up in front of Noel's House Party with a mug of Ovaltine for an evening of wholesome family entertainment. To maintain a safe distance from the evils of licence fee enforcement the BBC uses a trade mark, TV Licensing.
The TV Licensing name is used as cover by the companies contracted to do the BBC's dirty work. Capita Business Services Ltd does the majority of administration and enforcement work. Proximity London, who have previously been punished for printing TV Licensing lies, are unbelievably in charge of marketing, printing and public relations for a second time. Proximity subcontract TV Licensing PR to several other companies including Fishburn Hedges Boys Williams Ltd.
With all these different companies having a finger in the TV Licensing pie it is hardly surprising that the general public is confused about what TV Licensing actually is. For the sake of clarity TV Licensing is the BBC. It is a trade mark owned by the BBC and comprising companies acting on behalf the BBC.
Here at the TV Licensing blog we normally recommend that anyone legally licence free ignores TV Licensing entirely. Anyone who does not require a TV licence is under no legal obligation to communicate or cooperate with TV Licensing at all. Experience repeatedly shows that assisting TV Licensing is a waste of time, as they don't believe anyone making a no-TV declaration.
Some of the legally licence free prefer a more proactive approach against TV Licensing. After all, if they genuinely don't need a licence TV Licensing is completely impotent and a legitimate target for scorn. It has been suggested that the legally licence free, who will invariably receive the unwarranted attention of TV Licensing, should insist on dealing with the organ grinder (the BBC) instead of the monkey (Capita, Proximity et al).
Any of the legally licence free that wish to make a proactive stand against TV Licensing harassment should deal with the organ grinder as follows:
1. If you receive a TV Licensing letter return it unopened to the BBC.
Write on the envelope: "Unwanted Communications, Return to Originator: Head of Revenue Management, Room 4436, BBC White City, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS".
Do not put a stamp on it, just pop it in the nearest post box. Bear in mind that if you do this the BBC and TV Licensing will know where the returned letter has come from.
2. If you wish to protest anonymously shred any TV Licensing letters you receive and return them to the BBC using the address given above. If you choose this option you should put a stamp on your envelope, as you have chosen to open TV Licensing's original correspondence.
It is a nice touch to include a small note with your returned shreddings: "This unwanted communication originates with TV Licensing and is being returned to the BBC for environmentally-sound recycling. It is not intended to harass or intimidate in any way. Indeed, it is harassment and intimidation by TV Licensing that is being avoided."
3. Display a sign at the entrance to your property with the following wording: "Capita employees banned, BBC employees welcome".
4. Write the BBC and inform them that if they insist on sending you letters you will only deal with them directly and not the TV Licensing companies: "I am writing to inform you that from the date of this letter, I will no longer communicate with companies working under the guise of the TV Licensing trade mark. I will only communicate with the BBC regarding licence fee matters. Please can you write to me, on BBC stationery, to confirm that you have noted my instructions?
"I will consider any further written communication using the TV Licensing trade mark to be in breach of these instructions, and I will return it to the BBC for environmentally-sound destruction. This is being done in protest at the policies of TV Licensing in respect of licence fee enforcement, and the malice and negligence with which they are carried out. Their processes breach basic historical principles of British justice, and I shall not condone such behaviour, nor participate in it."
5. Inform the BBC that you are withdrawing the implied right of access for Capita employees to your property, but not that of BBC employees: "Henceforth, employees of Capita Business Services Ltd, including those working under the TV Licensing brand, are banned from these premises - their implied right of access is withdrawn. This is being done within my lawful rights to protect myself, my family and my home against unwarranted intrusion and harassment for commercial gain. The BBC and its staff remain unaffected."
Remember that you do not need to include your name for this instruction to be legally valid, although the BBC will undoubted pretend otherwise. Check out our previous WOIRA tutorial for further guidance.