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.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2022

A Day in Court With TV Licensing

An interesting article about TV Licensing court hearings was published on the This Is Money website today.

TV licence evasion cases are dealt with via the Single Justice Procedure, which we have previously written about. Briefly, a defendant accused of TV licence evasion is sent a Single Justice Procedure Notice, which they are asked to respond to within 21 days. One of four things can then happen:

  • They could respond and admit the offence (e.g. plead guilty), asking for it to be dealt with in their absence. In this case the documentary evidence, which will include any mitigation offered by the defendant, will be considered by a single Justice of the Peace and they will pass sentence;
  • They could respond and admit the offence, asking to appear in person at court. In this case the defendant will appear in the Magistrates' Court and their case will be considered and sentenced by a bench of Magistrates;
  • The could deny the offence (e.g. plead not guilty). In this case a trial will be needed to determine the matter. The defendant will appear in the Magistrates' Court and their trial will be heard by a bench of Magistrates;
  • They fail to respond. In this case the documentary evidence, which will clearly only be the prosecution's version of events, will be considered by a single Justice of the Peace and they will pass sentence.

The overwhelming majority of cases are dealt with by a single Justice. Very few appear before a bench of Magistrates. Only a few Magistrates' Courts around the country, as mentioned in this previous article, actually deal with in-person TV licence cases. Stratford Magistrates' Court in east London is one such venue.

Journalist Fiona Parker writes about a visit to the TV licence court. Capita TV Licensing's Phil Carvill, who we have had previous dealings with, was the Court Presenter. It is worth remembering that Capita's Court Presenters are not legally qualified and nor do they need to be. Even so, they can prosecute TV licence cases as long as authorised to do so by the BBC and granted rights of audience by the court.

Carvill is a regular Capita TV Licensing poster boy, who features in the image below.

Janet Ellison was first up, having admitted receiving TV programmes without a TV licence, which is an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act 2003.

The 53-year-old, who stands with the aid of a crutch and looks terrified, was caught out when the Direct Debit payments on her TV licence failed.

"There were some missed payments but the bank didn't inform me of this. TV Licensing says they sent me letters, but I missed both of them," explains Janet, her voice breaking under the strain. 

"It's not that I don't want to pay, I have been paying it all along," she says as she wipes her cheeks under her face mask.

The Magistrates accept Janet has made a genuine mistake and give her a 6-month conditional discharge, meaning there is no further punishment as long as she keeps on the straight and narrow for the next 6 months.

They also order her to pay £22 victim surcharge, which the court is obliged to impose, and £120 prosecution costs, which there is some flexibility on.

TV licence evasion is an absolute (or strict liability) offence. This means that the offence is committed by the mere act of not having a TV licence when one is required, even if there is no dishonest intention. 

There is no public interest in prosecuting people like Janet, but Capita TV Licensing realises that her conviction is almost a "dead cert" given the circumstances. Every conviction, however meritless, can be added to TV Licensing's tally that they regularly trot out for deterrent purposes.

A glint in his eye, Carvill outlines the allegations against the next TV Licensing victim...

Read more here.

We would encourage all defendants to attend court. By appearing in person the defendant will at least have the opportunity to make their voice heard. Even if they're only attending to plead guilty, then at least they can still explain their personal circumstances and highlight any mitigating factors.

The presence of the defendant means the court will give the case more consideration than it would in their absence.

Experience shows that the courts look favourably on defendants pleading guilty from the outset (e.g. when responding the Single Justice Procedure Notice), who then appear in person to face their responsibilities.

Whenever possible we encourage a defendant to plead not guilty, thereby forcing TV Licensing to prove its case. An uncontested case will invariably go in TV Licensing's favour. It is only by challenging TV Licensing's evidence or procedures that the defendant has any chance of winning their case.

In some circumstances TV Licensing will be so concerned at the prospect of its evidence being tested, that it will actually withdraw the charges before the trial date. Make no bones about it, TV Licensing is a thoroughly dishonest and unscrupulous organisation. In some cases it will attempt to prosecute when it has no proper evidence of wrongdoing. We refer to these as speculative prosecution cases.

It's time to take the fight to TV Licensing. Stand up, make your voice heard and let the court listen.

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Saturday, 28 May 2022

BBC Wields Axe in Latest Round of Cost-Cutting Measures

The impoverished BBC - which can barely afford a pot to piss in, if you believe all its tales of woe - has announced its intention to close several television and radio channels.

The Government recently announced that the £159 TV licence fee will be frozen for the next two years, at a cost of around £285m to the BBC.

BBC Director General Tim Davie announced the Corporation's latest plan to "makes ends meet".

Speaking on Thursday, Davie said: "What we are laying out today is a £500m plan for the next few years. 

"This is made up of two things: £200m a year of cuts which are necessitated by the two-year licence fee freeze. This represents the majority of our £285m a year challenge by 2027/28. £50m of this £200m is already baked into our current budgets. The rest is delivered by stopping things and running the organisation better where we can.

"Then there’s a further £300m a year which is about moving money around the organisation and delivering additional commercial income. This means that we are not just cutting money everywhere but making choices where to invest."

Savings will be made by implementing the following changes:

  • The merger of the BBC News Channel and BBC World News, into a single news channel delivering both UK and international news;
  • The merger of BBC regional newsrooms and programmes:
    • two versions of BBC Look East - one broadcast from Cambridge, the other from Norwich - will be merged into a single programme from Norwich by the end of 2022;
    • two versions of BBC South Today - one broadcast from Oxford, the other from Southampton - will be merged into a single programme from Southampton by the end of 2022;
  • The removal of BBC Four as a linear channel, with on-demand content being shifted to the BBC iPlayer;
  • Moving several BBC World Service foreign-language programmes to an online only format;
  • The closure of childrens' channel CBBC;
  • The closure of BBC Radio 4 Extra;
  • The removal of BBC Radio 4 long wave, but other methods of output will be retained;
  • BBC Local Radio content being syndicated over a larger number of stations.

The Corporation expects the changes to result in 1,000 redundancies over the next few years.

With viewers abandoning traditional linear TV programmes in their droves Davie pledged to build a "digital first" BBC by "evolving faster" and "embracing changes" in the market.

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Saturday, 14 May 2022

BBC Waives Jubilee TV Licence Requirements

The BBC has announced that it will waive the requirement for people to have a TV licence to watch coverage of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

But, as always with the BBC, there's a catch.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, God willing, will become the first monarch in British history to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.

The Queen acceded her father, King George VI, when he died on 6th February 1952. Her Coronation was held in Westminster Abbey on 2nd June 1952.

A specially extended Bank Holiday weekend, running from Thursday 2nd June to Sunday 5th June 2022, has been set aside to mark the occasion of Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee.

The TV licence dispensation will apply over that long weekend, but only in certain very limited circumstances.

Those circumstances are described on the TV Licensing website as follows: "The dispensation will allow those celebrating by arranging events in town halls, community centres and streets across Britain, where TV is not usually watched, to screen the live programmes throughout the weekend without needing to purchase a licence. The dispensation will also apply to shops and events such as agricultural shows."

Crucially and significantly the dispensation does not apply to individuals wishing to watch coverage of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in an unlicensed private residential property.

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