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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.

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Saturday, 25 February 2012

TV Licensing Postal Costs

The BBC has come under much criticism recently for the way it squanders money pursuing pointless matters.

The BBC Trust, who govern the Corporation, has also been critical of menacing tone of TV Licensing correspondence sent to unlicensed addresses, quite a number of which have no need at all for a TV licence. Despite the Trust's reservations the BBC, who act as the statutory Licensing Authority, has failed to moderate the wording of its routine letters, dubbed threatograms, which are being distributed at a more alarming and costly rate than ever.

Using the Freedom of Information Act we asked the BBC just how expensive it was for TV Licensing to produce and distribute their famous red-daubed letters. True to form, as with almost half the FOIA requests they receive, the BBC managed to avoid answering most of our query. Having successfully challenged the BBC several times on their lackadaisical and unlawful attitude to handling FOIA requests we are in no doubt they are wrong to withhold information yet again. On this occasion we see no point in pursuing the matter, because the information they did reveal was useful anyway. Incidentally their response was later that the 20 working day statutory time frame imposed by the Act.

We asked the BBC to provide answers to the following:

1. The number of standard TV Licensing mailings (e.g. routine "threatograms") sent to unlicensed properties annually from 2008 to date.
2. The total cost of producing and sending the letters mentioned in Q1 above. Please give a break down of the printing and distribution costs annually from 2008 to date.
3. The number of TV Licensing mailings sent to unlicensed properties via a premium mail service (e.g. recorded, special delivery or similar) annually from 2008 to date. I trust you will apply common sense when interpreting the meaning of a "premium mail service".
4. The total cost of producing and sending the letters mentioned in Q3 above. Please give a break down of the printing and distribution costs annually from 2008 to date.

The BBC confirmed it had sent the following number of letters to unlicensed properties:

Financial year 2008/2009 - 21,537,844
Financial year 2009/2010 - 21,705,070
Financial year 2010/2011 - 20,521,697
Financial year 2011/2012 (to January) - 20,953,513

Assuming an even frequency of monthly distribution, based on the 2011/2012 (to January) figures provided, it can be seen that TV Licensing are likely to have sent out around 27 million routine letters by the end of the 2011/12 financial year. This represents an increase of around 28% on the previous year.

The BBC refused to divulge printing and sorting costs, as the information may have been prejudicial to the commercial interests of their contractors dealing with those matters. However, they did confirm that the average postal cost of each routine letter was as follows:

Financial year 2008/2009 - £0.1462
Financial year 2009/2010 - £0.15548
Financial year 2010/2011 - £0.15567
Financial year 2011/2012 (to January) - £0.18383

A little bit of number crunching and it can be seen that the total postal costs for routine letters sent were:

Financial year 2008/2009 - 21,537,844 x £0.1462 = £3,148,832.79
Financial year 2009/2010 - 21,705,070 x £0.15548 = £3,374,704.28
Financial year 2010/2011 - 20,521,697 x £0.15567 = £3,194,612.57
Financial year 2011/2012 (to January) - 20,953,513 = £0.18383 = £3,851,884.29
Financial year 2011/2012 - 27,000,000 (est.) x £0.18383 = £4,963,410.00 (est.)

Remember that these are postal costs only and do not include the cost of printing, folding and sorting before the letters enter the Royal Mail system. These total production and distribution costs are likely to be around double the values given above.

It's worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of these letters are being sent to properties that do not need a TV licence, most of which have confirmed that fact to TV Licensing. TV Licensing's belligerent attitude to no-TV declarations, insisting they perform invasive confirmatory visits despite having no legal authority to do so, is costing the BBC millions of pounds in wasted postage alone.

The full text of our request and the BBC's partial response can be found here.


SylvieDM said...

My Father died 2 yrs ago and obviously we cancelled his TV License direct debit. From that moment until his house was sold 2 years later there were 9 bullying letters from the licensing people and apparently 2 people called to check out that fact that he really was dead and we weren't just lying about it!
By the time of the 2nd visit the house was empty and obviously so and yet they still left a note saying they had called to check his TV licence and were disappointed not to have got access.
After my 5th letter to them explaining the situation I GOT A VISIT FROM THEM!!!!!
A officious pillock with a bullying manner and a clip board turned up at my front door questioning whether or not I had a license in spite of the fact that I pay by DD.
He asked to see my license or proof of payment but I refused so he made a phone call to someone and then he asked if my Father (and mentioned him by name)lived with me because I had written to say my Father no longer needed a TV licence!
He actually had the stupidity to ask why Dad no longer needed one!!!
I said because they have a group license in the cemetary and shut the door.
I havent been troubled again

Admin said...

Thank you for your comment Sylvie and we're sorry to hear about your father.

Sadly your story is far from unique. We regularly hear stories of how reluctant TV Licensing are to believe no-TV declarations and how little compassion they show when they have been notified of the death of a licence holder.

As your story once again illustrates, it is pointless trying to help TV Licensing by explaining your circumstances to them. You are not legally obliged to tell them anything and if you do you're inevitably wasting your breath.

TV Licensing really are cold hearted, money grabbing scum.

Admin said...

This article, as featured in today's The Sun newspaper: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4172233/BBC-blows-13m-on-TV-licence-threat-letters.html

I'm pretty chuffed with that. Shame they forgot to mention us!