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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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Saturday, 12 December 2015

TV Licence Evasion: A Few Notes on Liability

During one of our regular trawls of cyberspace we recently came across an interesting conversation on Twitter.

Briefly, a student posted about their frustration at receiving yet another TV Licensing threatogram. As far as they were concerned they were correctly licensed to receive TV programmes in their rented property, by virtue of the fact the landlord had agreed to pay for the TV licence. They were annoyed that TV Licensing kept sending its menacing correspondence, when they had previously drawn the "error" to its attention.

It was at this point that alarm bells starting ringing. Had the landlord actually bought a TV licence for the property? What defence would the tenant have if caught receiving TV programmes in the unlicensed property?

In terms of the actual offence of TV licence evasion, they would have no defence at all.

TV licence evasion is an absolute (or strict liability) offence. That means the offence is committed whenever a person installs or uses equipment to receive TV programmes at an unlicensed property. They either did it or they didn't - there is no grey area in between. Their reasons for committing the offence are totally irrelevant, so they could be prosecuted even if they were blissfully unaware of the property's unlicensed status.

The student mentioned earlier would be liable for prosecution if caught committing the offence of TV licence evasion, although they could obviously mention their agreement with the landlord in mitigation. They could also take civil action if they had been left out of pocket (e.g. had to pay court fines) as a result of the landlord breaching the tenancy agreement (e.g. failing to buy a TV licence as promised). However, the civil courts could not overturn the student's criminal conviction for TV licence evasion, however unjust it might be.

In theory, any person with permission to be at an unlicensed property could be held liable for TV licence evasion there. In practise, TV Licensing will normally only prosecute a normal adult occupier of the property in question.

For further relevant information please see our earlier posts:
Of course all of these technicalities can be totally avoided by simply ignoring TV Licensing completely. Bin its letters as soon as they arrive and close the door immediately on its scummy operatives.

Even though it's the season of goodwill to all men, do not be lulled into trusting TV Licensing for one moment. In our opinion, which is borne out by years of experience, it is a thoroughly dishonest and unscrupulous organisation.

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TheKnightsShield said...

"As far as they were concerned they were correctly licensed to receive TV programmes in their rented property, by virtue of the fact the landlord had agreed to pay for the TV licence."

The question that remains, is whether the landlord agreed to just pay for a licence that the occupier was going to get, or if the landlord was going to go through the entire process themselves and then pay for it. Sometimes those kinds of agreements can be a little sketchy as to the details of who's going to do what.

Admin said...

It's a good question.
I think the safest option is for the tenant (or whoever lives there on a normal day-to-day basis) should always assume that they are responsible for paying for the TV licence (if needed, of course). That is normally the case.

Joseph McGrath said...

My daughter moved into a new (to her flat and recieved a threatening letter from TV Licenscing. She would be taken to court , the police could demand access.
She didn't have a TV at that time. She was just about to get a tv (from her brother) and got a licence when she did.
Most unfriendly approach to a new customer!
I thought you had equipment to find TVs operating. Why target an empty flat?

Admin said...

Hello Joseph and thanks for your comment.
You appear to be confusing us with the official TV Licensing.
We campaign against TV Licensing's menacing and dishonest enforcement regime.
In answer to your comments about equipment, it is true that TV Licensing claims to have "detection" equipment, but its use is not widespread or routine despite the impression they like to portray.
You can read a bit more about the dark art of detection here: http://tv-licensing.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/tv-licensing-on-bbc-tees-truth-about.html
You might also like to direct your daughter towards our blog if she's being needlessly hassled by the scum at TV Licensing.

Fred Bear said...

It might also be worth pointing out to Joseph that the BBC/Capita double act doesn't, as a rule, 'target' anyone. They rely on mass mailing of ambiguously worded threats. Letters are sent out by the million apparently threatening court action, search warrants etc. The letters are generated by a computer. I've been receiving these letters for many years now and I haven't even seen a goon for ages. The wording doesn't bother me personally as I know these threats are empty. Unfortunately, however, these threats do cause distress to many vulnerable people in the UK, which is one of the reasons I think the whole licensing enforcement regime is a disgrace.