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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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Friday, 14 June 2013

Goon Fishing

A new strategy against TV Licensing intimidation and harassment is sweeping the legally-licence-free corners of the nation.

A TV licence is only required for those properties where equipment is installed or used to receive TV programme services. In the eyes of the law, anyone who doesn't require a TV licence simply doesn't need to buy one, but in choosing that path the occupier faces a relentless stream of intimidation, accusation and innuendo by TV Licensing. A TV licence is not needed merely to own any type of equipment, whether it receives TV programme services or not.

Goon fishing, as the name suggests, involves dangling some bait in eager anticipation that TV Licensing, like the greedy bottom-dweller it is, will gobble it up.

Those unfamiliar with TV Licensing may question why anyone would wish to antagonise a seemingly formidable opponent? The answer is simple - the caustic tone of TV Licensing terrorises people, many of them vulnerable and disadvantaged, into buying a TV licence they have no legal need for. The BBC, which is the statutory Television Licensing Authority, is fully aware of the heinous tactics employed by TV Licensing but denies there is a problem.

You're unlikely to get your feet wet with goon fishing, but this is a sport only for those fearlessly dedicated to the legally-licence-free cause. The thrill of goon fishing is that you'll end up face to face with your prey, so it's not a pursuit for shy and retiring types. Only attempt goon fishing if you're prepared to follow-through and land your catch.

Before hooking a TV Licensing bloater it may be prudent to read our free ebook, TV Licensing Laid Bare. The book explains your legal rights when dealing with TV Licensing. In short, as you have no legal need for a TV licence, you are under no legal obligation to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing at all. For all their goon will arrive with a pretentious air of pseudo-officialdom they have no more rights than any other visitor to your property.

Goon fishing involves the following steps:

Buy your bait
In this case the bait is an inexpensive piece of TV receiving equipment, which the retailer has to report the sale of to TV Licensing. You can get a cheap Freeview box for less than £20, but the genius of goon fishing is that you can return it for a refund shortly after purchasing it.

You are not legally obliged to give the retailer your correct details for TV Licensing, however, on this occasion, you should give your correct address and use a pseudonym. The more distinctive the pseudonym the better, as it will help you to identify the goon that visits your property later on.

The sale of TV receiving equipment has to be notified to TV Licensing at the end of the month, so try to purchase your bait in the last week of the month.

Take your bait home and keep it unopened in the original packaging. It is an offence to install or use your bait without a TV licence, so don't be tempted to try it out. Keep your receipt safe, as you will need it to return your bait later on.

Dangle your bait
The retailer will very considerately do this on your behalf. At the end of the month they will tell TV Licensing that a person at your address has purchased TV receiving equipment. TV Licensing will notice that the property is unlicensed and schedule a visit by one of their goons.

Return your bait (optional)
By the start of the new month your bait will have been presented to TV Licensing, so you'll probably have no further need for it. If you've followed the rules so far it should be in pristine condition, so return it to the retailer for a full refund. Alternatively give it away as a gift and spread a little goon fishing happiness!

Wait for a goon to bite
Have your camera charged up and waiting by the door. Sooner or later a TV Licensing goon is going to call to find out why "Mr C. Rapita" has purchased TV receiving equipment when their property is unlicensed. As soon as someone addresses you by your distinctive pseudonym you'll know that TV Licensing has taken the bait. Time to start reeling.

Film your catch
A lot of anglers like to keep a permanent record of their best catches, so be sure to get some video of the freshly landed goon flapping around on your doorstep. The vivid colours of their pouting face and rippling underbelly will undoubtedly make a memorable keepsake. For legal reasons the use of keep nets and barbed hooks is strongly discouraged. It is perfectly legal to film anyone who visits your property, however undesirable they may be. If the goon is following TV Licensing rules they should slink back into the gutter at this stage, but your encounter doesn't need to end there.

There are a lot of fake goons out there, because even the most unskilled of Blue Peter presenters can make a convincing TV Licensing ID card in less than 30 seconds. I'm not quite sure why anyone would be sad enough to Walt-it-up as a TV Licensing goon, but there are some sick attention seekers in the world. That being the case, you may choose to follow the suspect goon in an effort to verify their identity. If they are a charlatan (ignoring the obvious fact they probably are anyway) then you'll be doing a public service by passing their description and vehicle registration number to the police. As the BBC is a shining beacon of morality and legal correctness, they would surely approve of such community-mindedness: they are, after all, assisting with a number of investigations into the "dubious" conduct of their own staff and associates. If you do decide to follow the goon you should remain completely passive, keep the camera rolling and maintain a safe distance. You must avoid, at all costs, any accusation that you were harassing or intimidating the goon. They're happy to dish it out, but when the boot's on the other foot they squeal louder than a teenager pinned in the corner of Jimmy Savile's dressing room.

Remember that it was TV Licensing who chose to visit you. You did not invite them and, as you still don't use TV receiving equipment, they have no legal business whatsoever at your property. In the eyes of the law they have no more rights than unsolicited God-botherers or people selling lucky heather. You are under no legal obligation at all to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing at all.

Share your catch
Upload your video to YouTube, as you're legally entitled to do. Add some humorous captions if you wish.

TV Licensing's policy on goons being filmed can be downloaded here.

If you've found this article useful please share it with your friends and help spread the word.

Good luck and happy fishing!

Edit 3/7/13: In light of a recent change to the law, we have now posted updated details about goon fishing.


Anonymous said...

Very sorry to possibly rain on your parade, but the TV Licensing Website says the following:

"The Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1967 (as amended) has been repealed meaning from 25 June 2013 onwards television dealers are no longer required to notify TV Licensing of all their sales and rentals of television sets".

Please see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/24/schedule/21/enacted

admin said...

Yes, I know that Watchkeeper, but as I'd gone to the trouble of writing this article anyway I thought I'd publish it. I actually wrote it a couple of months ago, but didn't schedule it yesterday.

It's still good for 2 weeks!

Ray Turner said...

Might not be a legal requirement for retailers in future, but I bet many will continue to do so...

Either through ignorance of the change or because there's still an incentive to do so...