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.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

BBC Data Breach in Samira Ahmed Employment Tribunal

The BBC has been accused of breaching data protection rules by revealing the names of 120 female employees who have pursued gender pay complaints.

The leak came to light during an Employment Tribunal claim against the BBC by Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed.

Ahmed is claiming £693,000 in back pay for an alleged breach of equal pay legislation by the BBC in a case supported by the National Union of Journalists.

Ahmed's lawyers argue that the fee she receives for presenting Newswatch, rumoured to be less than £500 per programme, is dwarfed by the amount Jeremy Vine received for each Points Of View programme, rumoured to be in the region of £3,000.

In her written submission to the Tribunal, Ahmed claimed to put in more hours than her male counterpart. She also said her role was more demanding, because she often wrote her own scripts, whereas Vine's were written for him.

In addition, she said: "It is likely that Jeremy Vine spends less time in make-up than I do. Women are more likely to be criticised for their appearance on air."

Ahmed also suggested that Vine had an unfair advantage at the BBC, because he was male.

"I was struck by how Jeremy Vine was gifted the Radio 2 lunchtime show as a successor to Jimmy Young in 2003," she said.

"That was a controversial appointment at the time and led to many complaints. Prior to that he had been a news journalist with no experience or profile as an entertainment star.

"BBC stuck by him and he was eventually cemented in the role. Women are not gifted these opportunities."

The BBC vehemently denies that Ahmed was paid unfairly, claiming the variation in remuneration reflects the very different natures of the Newswatch and Points Of View programmes.

Back to the latest data breach, which came about when the BBC inadvertently disclosed a letter bearing the names of 120 dissatisfied employees claiming unfair gender pay.

The vast majority of the names have not previously been publicly linked to pay disputes with the BBC. The document was made available in unredacted form to members of the public and journalists during Ahmed's hearing as part of the bundles of supporting evidence.

The BBC denied responsibility for the leak.

"This list was part of the evidence that the NUJ put before the tribunal, not the BBC," he said.

On Thursday the BBC sent an email to staff to forewarn them that confidential information about their complaints and salaries had been disclosed to journalists.

The email read: "Although this was not the BBC's evidence we have made clear to newspapers that we believe the names contained in the letter were not directly relevant to the case – however, they may choose to publish this information anyway and we thought you should know."

Thompsons solicitors, which is representing Ahmed, has now written to news outlets asking them to hold back from publishing the names of the 120 women: "Whilst the names of the individuals may be in the public domain due to the BBC revealing them within the court bundle it would be a breach of their privacy to make approaches to them when they are not parties to the action and have not given their consent for their names to be released in this way."

They also put pressure on the broadcaster to support the members of staff who may be affected: "We expect the BBC as the employer of the individuals named to take action to support any employees whose privacy is breached without their consent."

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Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The Tab: Promoting Inaccurate TV Licensing Information

One of the UK's leading youth news sites recently published an article about the TV licence and Netflix.

According to yesterday's article on The Tab: "In short, no. You don't need to have a TV licence to watch Netflix. It's because you're not watching live TV and therefore you do not need a TV licence for it."

Okay so far, but the same article goes on to say: "But if you are using other catch-up websites like BBC iPlayer, 4OD, or ITV catch up, you need to have a TV licence, because those websites have the ability to show live programmes."

That statement is incorrect.

Whilst it is true that watching or downloading BBC on-demand programmes via the iPlayer now requires a TV licence, it is definitely not true that a TV licence is needed to use any other on-demand website. The fact that many on-demand services give the option of accessing live TV programmes is totally irrelevant - it is the act of receiving those programmes that is licensable, not the mere ability to do so.

In an example that will totally blow the mind of some people, it is perfectly legal to have a TV set in the corner of your front room, aerial plugged in, as long as you don't use it to receive TV programmes without a valid TV licence (not that we would recommend such a course of action, as TV Licensing would undoubtedly try to stitch up anyone in that situation).

In The Tab's defence, this is a matter of TV licence legislation that is widely misunderstood. Because such a misunderstanding plays to TV Licensing's advantage, it is quite happy for inaccurate information to propagate across the web and rarely attempts to clarify the situation.

To avoid unnecessary repetition, we would direct readers to the following articles for more information:
- Taking a TV Licence Fee Holiday
- TV Licence Evasion: The Rudd Defence
- Student Guide to TV Licensing Rules

We would also invite anyone seeking a general overview of current TV Licensing legislation and enforcement to visit our Quick Guide page.

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Saturday, 26 October 2019

Ofcom: Young Viewers Abandoning the BBC in Droves

Less than half of 16 to 24 year olds admitted to watching BBC television channels in the past week, according to research conducted by broadcast regulator Ofcom.

The average time young people are spending with the BBC per day across TV, radio and online - 1 hour 12 minutes - is also down on the previous year, and is around half that spent by the average viewer - 2 hours 33 minutes.

Many more young viewers are tuning into streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which do not legally require a TV licence. At the same time the number of younger BBC iPlayer users has fallen to an all time low. The average length of time young people spend visiting the BBC website has fallen from 2 minutes 43 seconds per day to around 2 minutes per day.

The figures were published in Ofcom's Second BBC Annual Report, which was published last week.

The report also criticised a lack of transparency in the way the Corporation handles editorial complaints. It raised concerns that the BBC is failing to engage younger audience members with its news and current affairs output.

It called on the BBC to "broaden its appeal of it news" which is seen by some as "representing a white, middle-class and London-centric point of view that is not relevant to their lives".

In the report, which covers performance between April 2018 and March 2019, Ofcom found that the BBC is "serving viewers and listeners well through the breadth and quality of its programmes" and "satisfaction remains high."

But the regulator said there is an "absence of a clearly articulated and transparent plan" to address concerns, making it "difficult for us to judge how much progress is being made and whether these steps will be far-reaching enough to deliver substantive progress for audiences in these key areas."

Sharon White, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said: "The BBC is still a vital, valued part of British culture. But we're concerned that a new generation is tuning out of its services.

"So the BBC must set out bolder plans to connect with younger viewers and listeners. We also want the BBC to broaden the appeal of its news, which some viewers and listeners feel isn't relevant to their lives.

"And the BBC must find ways to be more distinctive online, where our research shows younger people are passing it by."

A BBC spokesman said: "We welcome Ofcom's recognition that audience satisfaction remains high and that the BBC continues to deliver for British audiences by producing high quality, distinctive and creative content as well as the most trusted and accurate news.

"The BBC has a clear plan in place to meet the needs of younger and diverse audiences, outlined in this year's annual plan.

"It is focused on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds and BBC News Online. All three have grown strongly in the last year. So our plan is clearly working. But we want to do even more for young and diverse audiences, and we will set out our next steps in our upcoming annual plan."

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