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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 15 September 2012

TV Licensing Letters: Focusing Beyond the Print

A quick Google on "TV Licensing harassment" leaves little doubt that their routine letters, dubbed threatograms for their menacing tone, are a major source of complaint.

Watchkeeper has helpfully dissected the wording of one of TV Licensing's threatograms. He explains what TV Licensing say and translates it to what they actually mean:

January 2012

Dear Sir/Madam,
They don't know who you are. Keep it that way.

As you have not responded to our letters
It has been confirmed in Parliament that you are under no obligation whatsoever to co-operate with the BBC or anyone acting under the  "TV Licensing" trademark.

"Yet"? They're suggesting you should contact them. Don't. To repeat, you're under no obligation.

you have left us no alternative
They're trying to blame you for the predicament they're in, and you're bringing down upon your own head what happens next. If you keep schtum, nothing will happen next.

but to proceed with the final stages of our investigation.
Since you never knew anything about the previous stages of their investigation, you can safely ignore this. It's all bluff and bluster.

An Officer
No, not an officer but a commission-earning salesman.

has been scheduled to visit [address of recipient] to find out if TV is being watched or recorded illegally.
He can only find out if you tell him. Detection, if it works at all, is governed by RIPA and, in the BBC's own words, "is difficult to deploy". Anyone knocking on your door will not have a detector. Keep the door closed.

The Officer may visit your property any day of the week, morning or evening.
As noted above, not an officer but a salesman - a salesman with all the authority of the milkman or double glazing salesman. Whenever he calls, "morning or evening", you are under no obligation to co-operate. Keep the door closed.

The information below explains the procedure. You may refer to it during a visit from the Officer.
This pompous wording, similar to what you read on the cover of a GCSE exam paper ("You may use a calculator"), is designed to make you think this is an authoritative letter. It isn't. It's a fishing exercise trying to find out who you are and what you're doing in the privacy of your own home.

Yours faithfully,
John Hales
London South West & Sussex Enforcement Division
A fictional "division" designed to make you think TV Licensing has a similar command structure to a law enforcement agency like the police. It doesn't. Collect enough of these letters and you'll see that "John Hales" has many titles and works in many areas.

What you need to know about the enforcement process
No, you don't need to know it. You're having no part in it. Remember, you do not have to co-operate.
  • We can apply to court for a search warrant to gain access to your property.
    Indeed they can - as a last resort (and I mean REALLY last resort) IF they have any evidence of your illegal TV watching habits. Since you are legally licence-free and don't watch live broadcasts they have no evidence to submit. Of course, the court is under no obligation to grant a search warrant no matter how hard Capita applies for one.
  • An Officer can take your statement under caution,
    The salesman can only take your statement if you give one to him. Remember, the caution begins "You do not have to say anything ..." It's sound advice. Don't say anything, just close the door with a cheery smile. Incidentally, the caution does not confer the right to remain silent - you have that already. It's a reminder that you have the right to remain silent. Again, it is your RIGHT to remain silent.
  • in compliance with the Police and Criminal  Evidence Act 1984 or Scottish criminal law.
    1984, eh? Doesn't THAT say a lot! Here's a real give-away that has me in hysterics every time I read it. "John Hales" doesn't even know where you live! You may live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and "John Hales" has no idea which. The computer-generated letter (for that is what it is - untouched by human hand) must cover all bases.
  • Anything you say to the Officer may be used as evidence in court.
    Anything you say to the salesman may be used as evidence. That being the case, it's fairly easy to see that if you don't say anything then no evidence can be produced. It's kind of them to point this out.
  • You risk a fine of up to £1,000, in addition to legal costs.
    No, you're under no risk whatsoever. You're not watching live TV so don't need a licence.
  • lf your property needs a TV Licence, you will still need to buy one.
    Yet another give-away. "IF your property needs a TV Licence". They haven't a clue whether you need a licence or not, yet they are producing all this bluff and bluster. Let them continue in their ignorance.
A reminder of the law
It is illegal to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV without a TV Licence - no matter what device you use.
Which means, of course, you can watch anything and everything other than live TV to your heart's content and save yourself £145.50 every year. [Edit: Please note that a change in the legislation since this post was written now means that a TV licence is required for any property where equipment is used to watch or download BBC on-demand programmes via the iPlayer. Read more here].

You can still do one of the following:
  • Buy a TV Licence at [web address redacted] or by calling [phone number redacted]. A colour licence costs £145.50.
    The main purpose of this form letter - they want you to buy a licence. But you don't need one. You don't watch live TV.
  • Let us know you don't need one at [web address redacted] or by calling [phone number redacted]. We may visit to confirm this.
    Again, you are under no obligation to co-operate. Many people will tell you from personal experience that it does no good anyway. The BBC will not believe you. They want to get their mucky size 11s into your house to have a snoop around. Are you going to let them?


Mellish T Allsop said...

Great translation work, Sir. Many, many thanks to you.
Btw, anyone know John Hales' home address? I've a hunch he may be regularly ogling a photo of my missus (as featured in the readers' wives section of a certain adult publication last month) without having made the minimum 5 quid donation to Childline which we feel her body parts fully merit. Stand by for an intrusive day-or-night visit from Mr & Mrs Allsop (Slough Division), Hales, you cad!

Anonymous said...

I have not had a TV for many years. I have been subjected to a series of threatening letters . The last one was vague and did not actually say i was being taken to court but told me what to expect in court. It was vague but the word court was used 6 times in a short letter. I am sick and tired of threatening letters from TV licensing.I phone and asked them to explain the letter I was told it was a standard letter.

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Anon. By coincidence we have just written about the letter you mention.

Read our article here:

Daddy Rat said...

Dear Admin...I have just read the new threatogram page and am in hysterics. You have elegantly translated the content of TV threatening letters and I am chuffed to bits by the red wording contributed by Watchkeeper, who in my opinion deserves a gold medal. This is yet ANOTHER wonderful piece of content and all these culminating experiences of this FANTASTIC website are making my experience here a highly joyous one. Thank You SO very much for all your deeply informative submissions. This is Fabulous stuff and I am in no doubt that the TV salespeople will be reeling at the education we are getting from this site.

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Daddy Rat.
He's a wise old bean is Watchkeeper. He keeps his own blog if you'd care to visit, but he sadly doesn't write very often: Watchkeeper's Log

Anonymous said...

thanks for your post. I get letters every month signed by 'John Hales' . The previous one said there would be a visit on 14th Aug. I got extra biscuits in.. There was lots i wanted to say to the 'officer' over cups of tea..

Of course, no show..

Anonymous said...

Please correct this:

"Which means, of course, you can watch anything and everything other than live TV - including catch-up TV like the BBC's own iPlayer"

A licence IS needed to watch the BBC's iplayer.

Admin said...

Happy to update this post, but obviously it was written four years before the introduction of the new iPlayer legislation.

Unknown said...

I have told these people not to visit my property or face the consequences

Anonymous said...

Yes today I had a letter signed by Mr Hales along the lines, I quote 'Will you be in on 21st March re No Licence ( I happen to be 83 and currently hold a 'new free over 75 TV licence ) another interesting fact mentioned is a figure of 9,463 addresses per day being visited by his officers. I am suitable impressed ahem!!!

Anonymous said...

These lot have a number of different spellings of my address, but have demand letters for various versions. I have a valid TV licence. How do I get them for the harassment from Mr John Hales?