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Saturday 17 August 2013

TV Licence Summons: What To Do?

TV Licence Summons

Imagine that you awake one morning to find a brown envelope on your doormat, which contains a summons to the Magistrates' Court for the offence of using a TV receiver without a licence.

[Note: Since this article was written, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 now allows for TV licence cases to be dealt with by a single Justice. The information given below still holds true, but a summons (referred to as a Requisition under the new legislation) will only be issued when the case is being dealt with by the full Magistrates' Court instead of under the single Justice arrangements]

Would you know how to proceed in those circumstances?

In today's article we shall explain the general process for anyone living in England or Wales finding them self in that unnerving situation. The legal process in Scotland is slightly different, because virtually all TV licence evasion cases are dealt with by way of fiscal fines.

Before we start a quick disclaimer that, in common with the vast majority of TV Licensing's Court Presenters, we are not lawyers, however, over the years we have accumulated considerable knowledge and experience of how TV Licensing handles its prosecution cases.

It is true to say that since starting this blog we have reviewed and observed literally hundreds of TV Licensing cases. We have also offered winning advice to several defendants, including Tony who we blogged about only a few weeks ago.

1. TV Licensing Lay Information Before the Court.
It is an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act 2003 for a person to use or install (e.g. have connected/tuned ready for use) a TV receiver in a property that is not covered by a valid TV licence. It is a summary offence, which means it can only be dealt with by the Magistrates' Court in the first instance.

Since 1st September 2016 it is also an offence for a person to watch or download BBC iPlayer on-demand programmes in a property that is not covered by a valid TV licence.

In order for the Magistrates to issue a summons TV Licensing must lay information before the court that an offence has been committed. This basically means they tell the court they have evidence to charge the accused (hereafter referred to as the "defendant") with an offence, although the court will not actually review or test any evidence at this stage. There is nothing to say that the evidence laid before the court will withstand closer scrutiny.

2. Summons Issued.
After information is laid the court will issue a summons, which is effectively an invitation asking the defendant to respond to the charges in person.

The defendant normally receives the following documents with the summons:
  • Statement of Facts: This is a short summary of the information TV Licensing laid before the court (e.g. "between 1st January 2014 and 10th January 2014 it is claimed that the defendent used a colour television receiver without a valid TV licence, contrary to section 363 of the Communications Act 2003").
  • Plea Form: The defendant can complete this to indicate whether they plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Statement of Means: The defendant completes this form with details of their income and outgoings, which the court uses to assess the level of any financial penalty it imposes.
  • TVL178 Record of Interview form: Usually a copy of the famous TVL178 Record of Interview (self-incrimination) form is included. The defendant should closely examine this form and compare it with the copy they should have received when TV Licensing visited the property. See our earlier post for more information on this document.
  • Proof by Written Statement: This is a statement by the TV Licensing visiting officer, which will be tendered in evidence unless the defendant pleads not guilty and asks for the goon to appear as a witness in person.
Under section 127 of the Magistrates' Court Act 1980 the court can only issue a summons if the prosecution lays information within 6 months of the commission of the alleged offence. If TV Licensing take longer than that the case cannot proceed.

If the defendant fails to respond to summons the case will be heard by the Magistrates in their absence and they will be found guilty by default. The majority of TV licence cases end this way, with the court making judgments against defendants that fail to respond to summons. For this reason it is very important that the defendant responds to summons.

3. Response to Summons.
This is where strategy comes into play, as the defendant will have to weigh up the most appropriate way to respond given their circumstances.

If, having thoroughly considered the circumstances, the defendant believes they've been caught "bang to rights", then the best option is to plead guilty from the outset. A defendant choosing this option does not have to attend court and the case will usually be dealt with in their absence. The court will convict them solely on the basis of their guilty plea and will not consider any other evidence, however weak, that TV Licensing may have presented.

If, on the other hand, the defendant wishes to challenge TV Licensing's representation of the facts, then they should plead not guilty. A defendant choosing this option does not have to attend the initial hearing, but will obviously need to attend for trial at a later date. If the case gets as far as trial then the defence will have the opportunity to test the quality of TV Licensing's evidence, which might be enough to discourage them from proceeding with the case. For whatever reason, TV Licensing are sometimes very reluctant to have their evidence and witnesses tested in court.

There may be circumstances where a guilty defendant takes the strategic option of pleading not guilty. That might seem a strange suggestion, but there are two possible advantages to the defendant by doing this:
  • TV Licensing may well make procedural errors, which result in the case being dismissed or the Magistrates ruling in the defendant's favour.
  • TV Licensing, who are known to take shortcuts, may decide to withdraw the case instead of risking closer scrutiny of their evidence at trial.
4. Pleading Guilty.
If the defendant decides to plead guilty then it is best to do so early, as the court will give a discount on the penalty they impose. The defendant has the option of attending the hearing, but most choose to have the case heard in their absence.

The court will usually impose a financial penalty on the guilty defendant. The starting point for any fine is determined from the defendant's completed Statement of Means form, but the Magistrates can vary this to take into account any mitigating or aggravating factors. The Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines give details of the current recommended fine levels. In addition to the fine, the defendant will normally have to pay TV Licensing's prosecution costs (currently around £120) and the Victim Surcharge (the greater of £20 or 10% of any fine imposed). We are pleased to report that the latest edition of the Sentencing Guidelines now recommends a conditional discharge for offences of low culpability and harm (e.g. a person who accidentally receives TV programmes without a licence for a short period of time).

5. Pleading Not Guilty.
Whenever possible we would encourage the defendant to plead not guilty, thereby forcing TV Licensing to prove their case. It is only by challenging TV Licensing's evidence or procedures that the defendant has any chance of winning their case.

A defendant who pleads not guilty is entitled to review all of TV Licensing's prosecution evidence prior to trial. A written request for the evidence should be made via the court as soon as the defendant has formally entered a not guilty plea. If the court applies standard directions then TV Licensing will have 28 days to disclose its evidence to the defence. If they fail to make disclosure in accordance with the court's directions the case will be dismissed.

Prior to the trial TV Licensing may inform the defendant of their intention to submit "Proof by Written Evidence", which will be the visiting officer's (goon's) account of how they gathered information for the TVL178 Record of Interview form. The defendant can object to such a request within 7 days of receiving notice. We suggest that it is preferable to have all of TV Licensing's witnesses attend to give evidence in person, because this allows the defence the chance to cross-examine them.

The court will ask the defence whether they wish to call any witnesses at the trial. Notwithstanding the fact they may already be appearing for the prosecution, it is a good idea to call the goon who completed the TVL178 Record of Interview form, as the success of TV Licensing's case invariably hinges on whatever they have written. The defence should call any other reliable witnesses whose evidence casts into doubt TV Licensing's case.

We should mention that TV Licensing will attempt to ascertain the basis of any not guilty plea, so that their Court Presenter can be better prepared when the case comes to trial. The defendant should not explain their reasons for pleading not guilty to TV Licensing.

6. Examining TV Licensing's Evidence.
Once TV Licensing's evidence has been disclosed it should be carefully examined for any factual inaccuracies or contradictions that could weaken their case. If problems are found the defence has two main options - they can either get straight on the phone and challenge TV Licensing before trial or keep quiet and challenge them during the trial. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options.

If the defence challenges TV Licensing on the quality of their evidence before trial then there is a chance they will withdraw the case before it gets that far. The downside of challenging before trial is that the defence has shown their hand and TV Licensing may be able to mitigate the evidential weaknesses that have just been drawn to their attention. Alternatively, if the defence waits until trial it is less likely TV Licensing will be able to rebuff any weaknesses that are drawn to their attention, which is likely to weaken their case.

7. The Trial.
If the case gets as far as trial, then the hearing will proceed as follows:
  • Prosecution opening speech: TV Licensing will summarise their case against the defendant.
  • Prosecution witnesses: TV Licensing will call and examine their witnesses.
  • Cross-examination of prosecution witnesses: The defence will have the opportunity to cross-examine TV Licensing's witnesses.
  • Prosecution re-examination of its witnesses: TV Licensing will have the opportunity to clarify any points from its own witnesses that may have arises during the defence's cross-examination.
  • Submission of no case to answer: The defence has the option of submitting there is no case to answer at this stage (e.g. the prosecution has failed to submit sufficient evidence to prove their case). In the unlikely event that the Magistrates agree the case will be dismissed and the defence can ask for costs to be awarded in its favour.
  • Defendant's evidence: The defendant can choose to give evidence from the witness box. They do not have to, but the court may take into account their failure to do so when determining their guilt or innocence.
  • Expert witnesses: If applicable. Unlike other witnesses who can only deal in fact, expert witnesses can be called upon to give opinion on matters within their technical expertise.
  • Character witnesses: If applicable, character witnesses can be called to support the defendant's good standing. If a character witness is called then TV Licensing has the right to impugn the defendant's supposed good character by mentioning any previous convictions they might have.
  • Defence witnesses: The defence will call and examine their witnesses.
  • Cross-examination of defence witnesses: TV Licensing will have the opportunity to cross-examine the defence witnesses.
  • Defence re-examination of its witnesses: The defence will have the opportunity to clarify any points from its own witnesses that may have arisen during TV Licensing's cross-examination.
  • Defence closing speech: The defence will summarise its key arguments, highlighting any evidence that supports a not guilty verdict.
  • The decision: The Magistrates will retire to weigh up the evidence and consider their decision. After a normally short deliberation they will return to the courtroom and announce their decision. If a not guilty verdict is returned the defence should ask the court to award costs in its favour. If a guilty verdict is returned then the defence will have the opportunity for mitigation before sentence is passed. The sentence is likely to be a slightly steeper fine that if the defendant had pleaded guilty from the outset. The defendant will also have to pay TV Licensing's costs, which will be more expensive having gone to trial.
If the defendant is found guilty at trial then they will almost certainly be ordered to pay a fine, TV Licensing's prosecution costs (which will be greater than if they'd pleaded guilty) and the Victim Surcharge.

If it all goes terribly wrong and the defendant is found guilty there is still the option of appealing the Magistrates' decision. The defendant needs to act quickly as there is only a short time to lodge an appeal.

To conclude, let us leave you with the heartening statistic that less than half of those people TV Licensing catch evading the licence-fee are actually convicted. With a little bit of research and preparation it really is possible to mount a very credible defence.

We hope that you've found the information in this article useful. If you require any further advice please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.

Edit (17/8/13): We should probably mention the unusual situation where a defendant does not receive their summons, so is completely unaware they are facing prosecution and are convicted without their knowledge. In these circumstances the defendant should make a Statutory Declaration (see form on Resources page), which is effectively a sworn statement denying all knowledge of the case. The completed Declaration should then be submitted to the court, which should then overturn the conviction. If there is sufficient time, TV Licensing may re-issue the summons for a second attempt at prosecution.

Edit (17/6/16): Following the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, it is now possible for TV licence cases to be dealt with by a single Justice. Please see this article for further information.


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Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Ray. You are correct that any defendant pleading not guilty and subsequently being found guilty at trial would definitely receive a larger fine. In our opinion there will be some defendants, gambling sorts, who would be prepared to risk an extra £100 or so in order to try their luck. As mentioned TV Licensing are incredibly bad with procedure - there is every chance they'd screw up somewhere along the way!

33_hertz said...

Great info, as always!
Once again, thanks for your efforts on behalf of us non-telly watching bods.

Unknown said...

poolThank you so much for the info, I am in the unusual suitation of never having receiving the summons as it was sent to my old student address, 3 months after moving out! I know nothing of it until today, after many phone calls I now have to go and make the Declaration at the court. I still am unsure as to what I am being fined for as the TV licience people say I don't owe anything?? I'm worried sick so am off to the CAB tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Sally. There is absolutely nothing to worry about! I've seen Statutory Declarations in action. You apply to the court that you want to make one and why. You then have to turn up at an allotted time at the court, usually when the other TV Licence cases are being dealt with. You simply stand in front of the magistrates and tell them that you didn't know about the case at all. They will warn you that if it is found out you are telling porkie pies, you'll be in big trouble. you then sign a form and go home. That's it. Your conviction will be overturned and then it's up to TV licencing to decide what to do next.

laura said...

Good evening, I'm hoping someone can help. I purchased a tv license on line at end of Feb this year (I also have an email to prove so as I renewed online). At beginning of march I rang them and asked them to changed to direct debit date as it wasn't convenient. Now, as best I remember, the guy on the phone confirmed he'd cancelled my direct debit and advised a new one would be reinstated for the requested date. A little down the line, a tv licensing officer was at my door advising me I didn't have a license. I explained I did and explained I'd renewed online and then asked them to change the date. She advised that there was no license at the address so I completed her form and set up a new one. I should mention at this point, 3 days after moving into my property they knocked at my door. I hadn't even had the chance to get one in my name at the time. So because this was a second visit I received a court summons. I pleaded not guilty and the trial is set for this thursday morning. I submitted my emaul proof along with a covering letter explaining the first and second visits. I admitted in my letter I was guilty of not checking my online bank statements for every single direct debit from my account but that it surely couldn't be held against me. I am now starting to doubt myself and the phone call I had and can't be sure if they guy said he'd set a new one back up. Should I change my plea to guilty? If anyone could offer any help or advice I'd be eternally greatful. I am very nervous about thursday morning. Laura

deen27 said...

Regarding the 180 days rule for filling the case, what happens if one made statutory declaration and the TV licence sent another summon but within 180 days since the statutory declaration but outside 180 days since when the alleged offence tool place?

Anonymous said...

I very recently received a letter form Marstons group threatening Baliff action and 'legally' entering my home as I had apparently been charged with the offence of not owning a TV licence in July of this year. Although it is true I do not own a TV licence (as I do not have an aerial plugged into my television and only watch pre-paid services such as Netflix), I have also never received a court summons or been ever offered some line of defence. I have lived in this property some 2 months before the alleged 'sentencing' was made..is this legal procedure?

Admin said...

You need to contact the court and explain the situation to them. You may be able to make a Statutory Declaration, which is an official declaration that you did not know about the proceedings. The court will usually overturn any penalty imposed in those circumstances.

As I said, you're best bet is to ring up the court and speak to someone about it.

Matthew Saward said...

I Had a door step officer turn upin august 2013, explaining i didnt have a tv licence, i explained i thought i had cos i paid for the year in advance and never received a renewal document stating it had to be renewed before a certain date. He accepted this cautioned me at my door step and said as long as i kept up with my Licence nothing futrher would happen, i received a summons this morning stating the persuing this mattter cos i hadnt kept up with a v licence, I have confirmed with tv licence I have in fact ggot a valid licence and have had since the doorstep office set one up for me. I have pleaded not guilty as I fell the agreement from the doorstep officer hasnt been breached and i have kept up with a licence, im curious can the persue if youve already been given a caution for the offence

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Matthew.

Yes, they can prosecute you for the offence if you were cautioned. Indeed, they would actually struggle to collect evidence to prosecute you if you were not under caution.

I'm not fully understanding what you're saying. The goon who visited you in August was not empowered to make any deals with you, so anything he said wasn't binding.

It boils down to whether you were watching TV without a licence back in August. Irrespective of whether they sent you a reminder or not, if you continued to watch TV programmes after your previous licence had expired then you have committed an offence.

It sounds to me as if you may have said too much to the goon back in August (like "Ooh, I thought I was covered to watch TV"), which is why they're now after you.

It's not fair and it's not honest, but that's the way TV Licensing does business. Best of luck with whatever happens.

Anonymous said...

Goon came to my doorstep on aug 2013 to say I didn't have a valid licence and conducted an interview me without telling all the facts. Truth is I moved from previous address which I had valid licence for over 2 years and paid always direct debit. As I moved to this new address in March 2013, i have been calling tv licence to change my licence over to my new address, cause I couldn't change it online. This was back in March, April etc and every time they said we can't do it. So the goon came in aug I said. I told him that I endlessly called to change my valid licence to my new address. He tricked me to sign the form, because I have no knowledge of this kind of scam. To cut to the point after the left I called to say my initial licence expired, and send me card payment because the new house was temporary accommodation so I could leave anytime. The next thing I hear from them is court summons. Do I have not guilty plea case or not? Thanks

Admin said...

Hello again Anon.

If you were watching TV without a valid licence for the property in question (e.g. you said you had a licence for elsewhere) then technically you have committed an offence. There's not really much doubt about that, so there's little point in pleading not guilty. If you did plead not guilty, the court would find you guilty anyway because technically you are.

From what you've said you made every effort to transfer your old licence to your current address and were lulled into signing the confession form by the goon. These are mitigating factors in your case. If you plead guilty and explain the circumstances to the Magistrates in person you will receive a much lesser penalty.

That would be my advice based on what you've told me, although it is ultimately your decision to weigh up the options.

Ian Streeter said...

I seperated from my wife a year ago yet remained paying most of the bills. I stopped paying TV licence but my wife was not aware that this was unpaid. As a consequence she received a visit from a TV licence operator in August. She did not realise she did not have a licence. After some 4 months of processing, she is paying an agreed weekly amount (using a TV Licence Payment Card) to address the TV licence starting in December which she is up to date with. Despite this, she was mortified to receive a summons last week. She has never been in trouble before and this one was my fault. Despite these mitigating circumstances, how should she plea, will she have to attend the hearing (she is petrified of this) and will she receive a fine?
We would appreciate some advice.

Admin said...

Hello Ian and thanks for your question.

You were paying the TV licence, but stopped paying when you separated from your wife. As a result the TV licence expired, unbeknown to your wife.

My advice is that your wife should plead guilty, because technically she is. TV licence evasion is an absolute offence, which means she either did it (e.g. watched TV programmes without a valid licence) or didn't. There's no grey area as far as the law is concerned.

I would also suggest that she attends the hearing in person and explains the circumstances to the Magistrates. They will give a much more lenient penalty if she admits guilt early and offers mitigation in person.

She can still expect a fine of around half her weekly income, plus costs of £60-90, plus the £20 victim surcharge.

Some other sites, who give out soundbites rather than sound advice, would recommend fighting TVL all the way, but that would be pointless as there is no doubt that she watched TV without a valid licence.

Ian Streeter said...

Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...


I have a problem. I stayed at my cousins flat for two weeks in summer with my wife while she stayed at her brothers (she was doing me a favour). I answered the door and it was a tv license man. I gave him details about myself (name, date of birth, occupation) but not details about my niece nor details of my address abroad. I live in Spain full time; I was on holiday. The tv license man gave me a payment card because he said there was no license at this property. Now my cousins has received a summons in my name. The letter was open when it came and I think it's her problem because she is the one who didn't pay the licence after all. She said she has purchased a license in full and will ignore the summons. What is the best thing for her to do and myself. Mainly I am asking for her benefit.

Anonymous said...


I have received a summoms as I got a caution for not having a valid tv license, which I did no about but at the time I was due maternity pay from my employer but they advised I was not entitled to this i had to contact the job centre plus, I didn not recieve any money for over 3 months so I could not pay this what shall I do?

Admin said...

Your information is incomplete Melanie, so I'm reading between the lines.

If you've been summoned, failed to attend court, and have been fined in your absence, then your debt is to the court. You need to contact the court to make arrangements to pay it.

If you do not pay the court money you owe, then it will almost certainly increase in value and they may (if a collection order was made, which it probably was) attempt to seize property to cover the outstanding amount.

Anonymous said...

My daughter(in a rented student accommodation) has just recieved a summons for non payment of tv licence- However in her lease all bills are covered including TV licence. She told this to the inspector who knocked at their door and he said he'd sought it out, but he needed a name. Hence she has now been summonsed. Other than pleading not guilty- how should she proceed?

Admin said...

Thanks for your message Anon.

I'm afraid you may not like my response.

As far as the law is concerned, regardless of any agreement your daughter had with her landlord, if she answered the door and admitted to watching TV without a licence then the buck stops with her. Anyone who tells you different is being disingenuous.

If she has admitted the offence (watching TV programme services without TV licence), as it sounds like she has, then there is little point in pleading not guilty as the court will find against her anyway.

I would suggest she pleads guilty, but elects to attend court in person to explain the circumstances. If she shows the Magistrates the written agreement with the landlord then they should adopt a more sympathetic approach.

Apologies that my response cannot be more positive, but it's only fair to give you a legally correct opinion.

yetty said...

In September 2013, I was living temporarily with an Uncle, and a Tv licence man pressed the bell and asked of my uncle I said he was asleep.
Then the officer asked if we had a tv licence. I said I dont know. He asked if I was living there, I said yes, then he asked if he could come in to inspect the tv, I said No, because I'm not the owner of the house and I cant just let in a stranger. Then he asked me to sign and I said no because as far as i was concerned I was just answering question on behalf of the owner of the house. The only details I gave him was my name.
I was surprised to receive a court summon this morning, I've only spent less than a year in the Uk. what should I do?

Oscar Pennington said...

I require some advice...

I completed purchase of a house last November. However, I only had a chance to move my belongings into a property last week. A goon turned up today saying there was no license on record for the property. Not knowing fully about the situation, I felt pressured to give an interview.

He asked me in the interview if a TV was installed and I told him it had been installed last week and switched on to make sure it was working. That was the last time it was used. He did not ask me about the aerial being plugged in, but has circled this on the form. He also did not ask me if he could come in and inspect the set, but has written "no" on the form, indicating that I refused this, when in reality I was not asked.

He has told me to sign the form at the time, which I did because I felt pressurised. Of course, I should have checked it, but I was being warned that I could be prosecuted and I felt urged to comply ASAP and it's only now that he's gone that I have fully read through it and I disagree with what has been written on there.

What advice could you give in this situation?

(Also worth noting is that I am out of the country between May and November of this year, working offshore)

Admin said...

Hello Oscar, thanks for your message.

By telling the goon that a TV set was installed and tested to see if it works, you have unwittingly confessed to using it without a licence.

TVL may decide to prosecute, but if you buy a licence immediately then they may give you a second chance.

The only have 6-months to pursue any charges against you, so I would suggest buying a licence and then cancelling 6-months down the line.

Sam said...


I have just received a summons to court this morning through the post for not having a tv license between 18/09/13 to 26/09/13 (1 week). I moved into the property on the 18th and the GOON came to the property on the 25th so i had been living there for a week. The GOON first asked for the previous tenant when my flatmate opened the door and when we said we just moved in he barged his way in anyway. He asked me if I had a tv, which I do (to play my xbox), but i told him I do not watch tv, only BBC iplayer. I said I did not think I required a tv license but his intimidating manner and the threat that I would go to court made me buy one there and then on the spot. He took my card, put it into his machine and I entered my pin. However I received no documentation of a confirmed licence and the money was not taken out of my account. As I don't watch tv anyway, I emailed tv licensing to say that I didn't need one because i don't watch tv and they confirmed this.

I'm incredibly frustrated as I do not watch tv and because of some intimidating GOON who seemed dodgy from the moment he walked in, forced me to sign the interview notes and even made me buy a license when I didn't want or need one (that's how intimidating he was)- even though the payment process didn't go through anyway (which i didn't realise until December). I had received no warning letters giving me the opportunity to buy a license as I would have responded to those saying i didn't need one.

Is it common for someone who has moved into a property, literally within a week, to have some GOON forcing their way into your property, accusing you of watching tv, demanding you buy one, and then send you to court anyway? I want to plead not guilty as in my heart I know I was not breaking the law - I feel like I have been conned. What would be the typical fine for 'allegedlly' not having a tv license for a week? And will it mean I get a criminal record? I am so worried as I work with young and vulnerable people as part of my job which requires an enhanced CRB and I am worried something like this will destroy my career - all because of a threatening man accusing me of something I have not done. I admit I was naive in that I shouldn't have let him in but I didn't know that at the time.

One more thing to add, I have found a warning letter that was sent to the previous tenant (the tenant who the GOON asked for in the first place) saying that his tv license had expired so the GOON was coming to see him but decided to just con me whilst he was here.

Any advice would be really helpful? I have never been in trouble in my life and this feels like a total miscarriage of justice. thank you

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Sam.

We're sorry to hear about your predicament. TV Licensing goon visits are very much a matter of chance affair. It sounds like you've just been unlucky that one happened to visit the week after you moved in.

TV Licensing goons have no automatic rights of entry, so he should not have pushed his way in as you describe. It is a sad reflection of the way TV Licensing does business, that we often hear tales about their aggressive sales patter.

First off, you might be wondering why you have only heard from TV Licensing now. They often stretch out the initial prosecution process, because it gives them an advantage over anyone they intend to prosecute. In theory TV Licensing has to inform the court within 6 months of the alleged offence being committed. In practice they like to leave it as late as possible, so that the alleged offender has forgotten exactly what happened and has less chance to prepare a defence.

When the goon visited back in September, did you receive a copy of the TVL178 form he (should have) completed? If you signed the form you may have unwittingly admitted to receiving TV programmes without a licence. They sometimes use the ploy "sign here just to confirm I visited", but really they are asking you to sign a confession. If that is the case then realistically the chances aren't good for you.

If you have unwittingly signed the TVL178 then your only chance is to plead not guilty. The court will then set a trial date for you to appear in person and present your defence.

It is sometimes worth phoning TV Licensing's prosecution team, telling them that their goon made up a pack of lies and that you're prepared to swear that in court, in the hope that TV Licensing will drop the case. Sometimes they do drop the case in those circumstances.

Whatever you decide to do, please keep us informed.

If you have any more information you'd like us to comment on (the scanned TVL178 would be great) then please do contact us by email (see sidebar).

Anonymous said...

Hi,in letting a room,few days ago an agent from tv licence was at my door,he told me that i don t have licence and i must let him in.i didn t wanted on the bigging because i didn t knowed my rights.at the end i told him that i should let him in.after a story with frets i letter him in .tv was off,but he asked me to turn on.in almost all questions i answered with i don t know because really i didn t knowed that i must pay.when i rented this room was with all bills included.he writes this,that all bills included,and he putted me to sign.again i didn t wanted and again started with his stories and again he made me sign....i spoken later with landlord and he bought next day licence,saying that he forgot because he is traveling.i will still be fined?

Admin said...

You might still be prosecuted Anon, as by signing the form you have admitted to receiving TV programmes without a licence. From what you've said, it sounds like you actually were watching TV without a licence, so you are guilty.
They could decide to prosecute any time within 6-months of the offence taking place, so your fate might not be decided for several months. Only if you don't hear anything for 6-months can you be sure they aren't going to prosecute.

Unknown said...

Hi I've received a court summons and. Completely baffled yes I had a man come round and as I told him I had a direct debit set up turns out it wasn't coming out though my bank never informed me of this so I set up a payment etc with the man he told me once I'd done this that was that all sorted no problems at all I wouldn't have to go to prison I was safe so why have I now received this the form attached has everything said at the meeting but does not have the fact I've set up payment with them on there what am I suppost to do I have two children to look after pay for etc I'm paying it and why am I being treated like some serial killer on trial all over a tv I feel like throwing the thing out the window I have no clue what to do

Admin said...

Thanks for your message Kirsty. If you were watching TV programmes without a licence, which it sounds like you were, then regardless of the circumstances you have committed an offence.

We recommend you respond to summons and say you'll be pleading guilty in person. Once at court tell them exactly what you've told us and they'll take it into consideration. They will still have to punish you (that's the law), but it'll be much more lenient than it normally would (probably a fine of less than £50).

Whatever you do, do not ignore the summons. If you do that the court will adopt a firmer stance.

Unknown said...

Hi, new to this by the way...
So on 15th Oct 2013 i got abushed by the TVL goons and was made to sign up for a TVL which i was to pay weekly...but bein a student i hhave very little money to eat never mind pay TVL! so fell behind on payments in December 2013, i then received a letter in March 2014 to attend court on April which is next week....any advice on what to?? also they spelled my name wrong on the summons letter, does this matter?? Thanks

Admin said...

Thanks for your message Glen.

In all honesty, your best bet is a bit of damage limitation now.

It will be very difficult to convince the court that you don't need a TV licence, if you've previously agreed to pay for one.

I would attend court, plead guilty, sound apologetic and accept whatever they give you.

Once that's done make sure you're legally licence free by not receiving any TV programmes and don't ever speak to TV Licensing again. The only reason you're in the shit you are now is because you naively trusted them previously.

TV Licensing are duplicitous scum. They are lower than a snake's belly and cannot be trusted. In future say nothing to them and ignore all their correspondence.

Anonymous said...

I had made two payments on my direct debit for my tv license but my third payment failed, so I met the tv license man in my shipping centre and explained to him, to which he responded that he will come around and reshedule my payments, unfortunately a different tv license agent came and I explained that I have a license but need to reset up my payment, she then told me they had canx my license and I need to buy a new one, I was surprised and I asked what happens to the money I have paid, she responded it has gone down the drain and that I will have to buy a new one, I agreed and paid a new one from that date, she then asked me to sign that she had visited , which I did only to get a summon three months later.i ve pleaded not guilty and sent details of my old license which to me was valid until I was told by them that its been cancelled.i am going to court and have requested that they also let the agent come as well.where do I stand with this, I have always had a license at this address

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment.

Unless you have a good paper trail (proof of date you cancelled previous licence, proof of when new licence purchased, proof you didn't watch TV during the time in between) then it will boil down to your word against theirs.

Even if it does boil down to your word against theirs, you have a good chance if you actually plead not guilty and force them to prove their case against you. Quite often, when the circumstances are a bit suspect, TV Licensing will actually drop the case before it gets to trial.

In your position I would actually plead not guilty and insist that the TV Licensing goons concerned appear at the trial. Once in the witness box one would hope they'd give an accurate account of things.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was visited by tvl in November shortly after moving in to my property. I hadn't got round to buying a tv license at that point but was watching a colour tv. I told their man I had been watching and gave some of my personal details but I refused to answer some his other questions and didn't sign the form.

I subsequently bought a license and agreed to pay in installments. Unfortunately because of circumstances I couldn't keep the payments up. i made one payment of £11.90. I received a court summons on Friday. Should i plead guilty? Presumably because I bought a license, that in itself is an admission of my guilt? thanks in advance.

Unknown said...

I have just advised a friend with her defense on a case against TV license and prosecutions simply withdrew the case before the hearing. There are several flaws on how TV licensing builds a case. I am happy to help anyone who needs help regarding defending your TV license court summons/case.Drop me an email on ashrafahmed307@gmail.com All the best!

Unknown said...

Hi Anonymous,

Hope you are. I believe I can help, inbox me the summons letter and I'll guide you from there.

All the best!

polfop said...

I was visited by a TV license representative. They claimed I needed a license. To be clear I don't watch TV but do own a Virgin Media box. Shortly afterwards I received a letter stating if I purchased a license I could avoid prosecution. I purchased the license and paid by DD. After 2 months I rang to cancel the license. Shortly afterwards I received a court summons. Having complied with their request I thought I would have avoided prosecution - are they able to do this?

Admin said...

Hello polfop.

If you didn't need a TV licence (because you didn't receive TV programmes), then why did you buy one?

That is the argument TV Licensing will use in court. They will also show the court the TVL178 form, that you signed when the goon visited, that confirms the same (but they probably said "sign here, just to confirm we visited").

TV Licensing stitch up thousands of people like this. Sadly, there's a good chance you'll end up the same way.

Please see our advice above about pleading not guilty, but it won't be easy to avoid the fact that you bought a licence and signed their form.

Grace said...

Hello, first off I would just like to say how fantastic this site is and how relieving it is to know that there are others out there who are experiencing similar difficulties.

My name is Grace and in June 2013 as I was leaving my property I was approached by a 'GOON' who asked for my details and whether I had a valid license. I had only had my tv for a matter of weeks and as it was my first time living away from my parental home, I was unsure about had to set up the license and how serious it can get. At the time I was on a zero-houred contract and barely earnt £400pcm so tv licensing wasn't a bill that I prioritised.

The GOON cautioned me and set up a direct debit for future payments. I then received a letter in the post saying that I would not be prosecuted at this time so long as I keep up my payments. In July I contacted the company to inform them that I was leaving the property and to therefore cancel any future payments. The man on the phone that it was all sorted and that my account was closed.

In April 2014 I received a very vague Further steps notice at my new address stating that I had to pay £310 in court fines to Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham. It was only after I rang the court that they mentioned what the fine was for. I was told I had two options; Pay the fine or go to court. I had 10 days from when the letter was sent to make my decision (which included the 4-day bank holiday weekend). The person on the phone also informed me that the £310 fine was the outcome of the court case I had on 5/12/13. (That was the first I had heard of it). They said it had gotten this far because I had been ignoring their letters. The letters being to ones they sent to my previous address after I had informed them that I was moving. When I mentioned that I had set up a direct debit they said I was being prosecuted because I did not keep up my payments. I did not make any more payments because I had moved into an address which was covered by a tv license. The lady on the phone told m this was irrelevant and that I would have to go to court to prove this.

Because I believed I was up to date with any payments I chose to go to court and sign a statutory declaration to say that I knew nothing of the original court case etc. The magistrate told me that all previous fines and convictions were now wiped and it was up to the tv folk to re-open the case, which they did the next working day. I have now been summoned to attend court in a different town in June and I must attend.

When I got home, my sister pointed out that the date on the declaration was incorrect (It said I had know about the case since 18th March not 18th April) So I now have to go back to court again to sign another declaration.

My new summons says I am to attend court on the 16th April 2014 (which had passed). Apparently this is a typo and my actual court date is 16th June.

I have spoken with citizens advice and they said they do not deal with this sort of stuff but they would be able to help me manage any debt i incur from this. They advised me to call local solicitors to see if they can offer any legal aid but the likelihood is that it will prove rather expensive.

I am looking for some guidance mainly to see how to plead, what will happen etc. I have never been in any kind of trouble and feel like a lost lamb. This is causing me a lot of stress and grief and I feel like I am not getting the advice I need and will have to find hundreds of pounds from somewhere to pay for a solicitor.

Do I have a leg to stand on?

Thank you in advance

Anonymous said...

Hello need some help I was giving a fine by courts for tv licence lost my letter which I found today and realised that I was to pay in full to courts by 5th may 2014 I have not got the money to pay but I am going in tomorrow to pay 20 pound and ask for an extension what could happen as its a late payment? Any help is appreciated

Admin said...

Hello Grace and thanks for your email. TV Licensing is thoroughly dishonest and you should not have spoken to their goon at all. It is a sad fact that you probably provided the goon with all the information they needed to prosecute. You may have unwittingly signed the goon's confession paperwork on the promise it was just a formality.

It is worth pleading not guilty in this case, as it sounds like you didn't need a licence. You can represent yourself at court.

If you're able to scan the docs you've got we'd like to see them. Our email addy is in the sidebar.

Anonymous said...

Hi this is a query, my partner has received a su, mons letter as a guy came roumd whem I wasnt in to say we didnt have a license my partner said he did not live wih me as we have kids together and was looking after them. The gentlemen then told him to sogn it anyway and it cpuld be transfered in to my name, I paid it for a while on a card and my imcome dropped due to maternity. They came roind again and transferd it back to me which I will pay at the end of the monh nut now they want my partner to go court over payments missed. As we both didnt pay we bothnr guilty I would pay the bill when I get my monthly wage, why are they just chasing him and what should we do cant we have the licence in a duel name?

Anonymous said...

We have received a court summons. how/why? My missus cannot speak English properly, and apparently was asked a series of questions, which she answered, however according to the letter from the 'Statement of Facts' from TV people, the declaration was not signed. This was probably because she did not know what she was signing for. Anyway, she told them we watch tv, yet, we dont have a tv arial or sky. but we have an internet tv with nexflix and youtube.
Anyway, She does not want to go court. Also, the name on the letter is wrong, it has my name, but says 'Mrs'. I need to know what I can do, as she does not want to go court and we dont need to pay. Please help.

Anonymous said...

I answered the door at my partners home while he was out. The TV people set up for me yo pay TV license even though on the caution thing i told her it was my partner's property and he wasn't home. She told me to turn the TV on and that's when she cautioned me. I was sent a summons at my partners and assumed it was a mistake seeing as its his property and his responsibility, anyway heard nothing more and today a bailiff called for me at my partner's i wasn't there and he told them i didn't live there. How can u find out which court to contact to clear this matter up and pay the fine issued to me? Although i feel cheated as i don't even live there. Thanks for any help just not sure what to do. Oh and bailiff didn't leave any info with my partner just said he's going back yo court to trace me.

claire said...

Today my partner has received a letter for me from marsdon saying i owe £650 and they have authority to change locks and take my things...... however i don't live there so can they really do this? I still have no idea which court dealt with this matter but i would prefer to pay the court direct.

karen gautier said...

This morning I went to the magistrate court I was given a fine I've been fighting the tv licensing for over six years I've been trying to get the concession as im blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other they now say you have to be blind despite the back of the licence saying otherwise im a carer my husband is a pensioner we cannot afford five pounds a week I am prepared to go to prison as I told the magistrates today

Anonymous said...

Hi there, a week ago i moved out of my family home into my first home. My TV license was on my list of things to do but i hadn't had the chance to go on and purchase it yet. A TV licensing officer came round yesterday and i explained i had just moved in and it was on my list of things to do. He was very understanding, i paid for it in full on the spot. I filled out a form and made me sign it at the bottom. Do you think i will get a summoning letter or will they understand that i have only been here a week? He mentioned that because i paid it there and then, that i was covered for the month (which will cover the duration i have been living there) so surely they cant take it any further as i have now paid for it?

Unknown said...

Good Morning.
I am now without a TV license. I do not watch live TV streams from anywhere in the world.
My question is this:
When my children, aged 9 and 11 come to stay at my house at the weekend, can I legally allow them to watch live TV on their nexus 7 tablets using my internet connection? (They have a TV license for their mums house where they usually live).

Admin said...

Hello Andy. Thanks for your comment.
In the situation you describe, your children would be covered watch TV programmes on an unplugged device.
Please be aware that TV Licensing goons, who are incentivised to sell licences, would not give such a candid answer.

Admin said...

Hello Anon (before Andy). Thanks for your comment.
In all honesty you might still get a summons.
The way the law is, an offence is committed the moment a TV receiver is used without a valid licence. The fact you just moved in makes no difference.
TV Licensing goons SHOULD NOT attempt to make deals on the doorstep. They are not in a position to say to anyone "you'll not be prosecuted".

Admin said...

Hello Karen and thanks for your comment. Unfortunately the licence rules are quite archaic and you need to be severely sight-impaired or blind in both eyes to receive the 50% discount on the licence fee. Being blind in one eye and partially-sighted in the other would not qualify a person for the discount.
Yes, we agree that it is totally wrong.

Jessica said...

Hi Admin,

I usually get visits from the Tv Licensing goons but i never open the door for them. however my sister did and gave them her details and was giving a payment card, she doesn't live in my house she only came visiting and i'm still upset with her that she was that naive. anyway i received a letter from them in her name saying she may be fined. if they eventually take it to court who is liable me or her?.

Admin said...

Hi Jessica,

If it goes that far, which is by no means certain, then it is your sister they are after.

JS said...

will a TV licensing fine show up on a CRB check?...Im a nurse and would hate to loose my job because i forgot to renew my license

Admin said...

TV licence offences are non-recordable, which means they don't get logged on the police system and *shouldn't* be disclosed during a DBS check. That's our understanding, although we can't guarantee it.
Even if it did come out, do you suppose any half-decent employer is going to sack someone for a minor triviality like TV licence evasion?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I recently received summons for not having a tv licence back in 2012. That year I started to study and could not afford paying the bill so my partner who lived at the same address applied and paid for the tv licence when my one expired. Unfortunatelly there was some sort of misunderstanding and I told the tv licence goon on my doorstep that I dont have tv licence (most likely could not prove that we have one as the confirmation was at my partner's email).I am planning to plead not guilty but not sure if I should get some sort of representation when going to trial??? I have never been in this sort of situation and dont even know where to start. Another thing, the summons has been sent to me by tv licence people and has my old address on it. I am worried that if I sign it and send it to court all other paperwork will go to my old address which I have no access to. Can I ask court to issue new summons with correct details on it?? Thank you


Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Ingrida.

2012 was a long time ago. Are you sure TV Licensing started proceedings within 6-months of the alleged offence? If not, then the case can't go any further.

If you wish to change the details on the summons you should probably contact TV Licensing's prosecution team and they will (happily) sort it out. They're considerate like that!

Anonymous said...

hi i just received a summons in the post today for not having a T.v licence . the offence suppose to of took place between the 07/03/2014 to the 08/04/2014 , How do they know if you was watching tv between those times when i had a visit from one of them on the 07/04/2014 ,he read me my rights an after that i told him to hang on a minute because i had to step away from the door because my daughter was getting into mischief ,i use netflix to what stuff or iplayer which is to me not watchin direct tv do i plead guilty or not guilty?

Anonymous said...

Help. I live in France but own a house in the uk. My tv license expired last October. I month after I moved here. In dec I purchased an online license so we could watch telly when we where home for Xmas. I cancelled dd upon my return to france. My student son was staying at the house when officer visited. We had no license. My son only uses tv to play games. I have written and written to tv licensing but to no avail. Latest letter says he has been issued with a summons and he has to attend court in oct. 1) it's my house, I pay all bills so why is he responsible?
2) no summons has been received by my so
3) he doesn't watch telly - if I tell you he is studying maths at oxford uni and thinks watching telly is a waste of time.......
4) help!! Panicking

Thx karen

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Karen.

I understand that your son does not watch TV programmes, but it sounds like he has made the mistake of "being helpful" to TV Licensing by answering their questions and thus incriminating himself. TV Licensing goons can trick even the sharpest of interviewees into saying the wrong thing, which is where your son appears to have gone wrong. It is always best to say nothing and close the door.

As your son was an adult occupant of the property at the time of TV Licensing's visit, they can choose to prosecute him for any alleged offence. The fact you pay the bills is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

Our advice would be to contact TV Licensing and get as much information as you can about the case they have against your son. Ask for a copy of the completed TVL178 Record of Interview form.

If you're able to get more information, and email it to us, we may be able to advise you further.

zerogreen said...


I was contacted recently by pal of mine to inform me that I had a summons to court for no tv licence, I do remember a tv guy calling to the door when I stayed at his property whilst looking for residence, I was happy to set up a licence for while I stayed there and did just that. around 3 weeks later I moved on, its only for my pal collecting mail that I even know of this! what should I do now?

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment zerogreen.

In all honesty, if you were stopping at your friends house for several weeks then TV Licensing (and court) would form the reasonable opinion that you were residing there. If you're an adult residing in an unlicensed property where TV programmes are received, then you are liable to prosecution. It sounds like that is the situation in your case.

Unless you can get your mate to take the wrap then this could be something that you have to just accept and get on with.

Sorry not to have a more positive message, but that's my opinion having read your comment.

Anonymous said...


I have had to move house twice in the last two years following the sudden death of my fiance at the end of 2012. I have struggled to get back on my feet again and have failed to make payments on a direct debit for my tv licence. In march this year I was visited by a tv licensing officer and at the time, since it was on the day of my birthday and I had friends round, I was under the influence of a fair amount of wine. I annoyed to using a tv etc. and I agreed to set up a direct debit with him. This direct debit has again gone unpaid due to the four weekly nature of my income and the lack of funds in the collection date. I have now received a summons for court. My question is this: Can I buy a tv licence outright and have them drop the court summons? I no longer use a tv Ariel having succumbed to Netflix instead but I don't need the hassle and worry of a court case and any ensuing fines etc. after everything else, thus I would rather pay the license fee. Week they do this and what would I say? I'm also unhappy about being interviewed whilst under the influence but. "hey ho" I guess on that one.

Thank you in anticipation,


Admin said...

Thanks for your comments Mark. We are sorry to hear the sad news about your fiance.

I am afraid that the opinion we're going to give may not be what you want to hear: It is unlikely TV Licensing will withdraw the charges, even if you were to buy a TV licence outright.

Quite often if someone lapses on their DD payment, TV Licensing will give them a chance to correct their mistake without penalty. In your case it sounds as if they have given you that one chance, but you have again lapsed on the payments.

In all honesty they won't give you a third chance, so it's pretty certain they will take it to court.

Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply. In which case would it then be foolish to purchase a license now as mitigation since I don't watch tv, or would this still work in my favour come the outcome?

Again, thank you.

Admin said...

I can't give a definite answer on that. If you require a licence you should buy one. If the Capita Court Presenter tells the court that you now have a licence, it may work in your favour.

Anonymous said...

received summons due to no tv licence for one day 2/4/14, single mom of 2 children and on benefits what should I do?

Chris said...

I received a letter stating that I had fallen behind with my payments, which is true, in the middle of August. It stated that my license would be cancelled so I paid the amount a few days later. Four or five days after I paid I received a summons that was dated about three weeks prior to the date on the final reminder letter. How can they have issued the summons before they gave me a final reminder? Also my date of birth is wrong on the summons document, is that any use?

Admin said...

Hello Chris,

If you fell behind in your payments, then there was a period when you were not covered by a valid TV licence, so yes they can issue a summons. The fact they didn't remind you about falling behind is not really relevant I'm afraid - it doesn't change the fact that you did fall behind, so therefore weren't covered.

They're bastards you know. They haven't got much compassion.

In your situation the best bet is probably to appear in court in person, plead guilty (because technically you are) and explain the situation as you have done to me. The court will probably be more lenient if you explain it was a genuine oversight on your part, which you corrected as soon as you became aware of it.

Seahorse Queen said...

Hi hope you can help.
Today opened the door to TVL woman.she had my name as I'd registered online some time ago (around a year) that I didn't need one. She asked toi come in but I refused, she said that was fine, and she'd just mark me down s "refused entry" on her hand held gimick. I didn't receive a caution or sign anything. She said I could expect visits every 4-6 weeks. I'm now worried this will go straight to court. Tempted to buy a license out of sheer fear as I have no intention of ever letting them in. However, if I buy one now - won't it be seen as an admission of guilt?

Admin said...

Hello Seahorse Queen.

Unless you now need a TV licence, which I don't think you do, then don't buy one.

If you've just told the TV Licensing goon "no, you can't come in" then you haven't done anything wrong. They get that message, often in far more colourful language, every single day of the week.

You should not be worried about receiving a summons, because they can't possibly have any evidence against you.

Simply keep ignoring them.

Daddy Rat said...

I would like to begin by thanking the people that run this site. As mentioned in an earlier post in the name of Grace - this site is fantastic and I have already learned so much with regard to the duplicity employed by the abhorrent TV licensing authorities which has helped me enormously in preparation for my own litigation which now appears to be forthcoming. I can't thank this site enough and want to let all the wonderful people who are responsible for composing the content that they are doing an amazing and wonderful job. Thank You all so much!!!

Admin said...

That's very kind Daddy Rat and you're very welcome.

Please do tell other people about our blog if you think it might also help them.

Thank you for your continued support.

Daddy Rat said...

I moved into my new rented property on 13th March of this year. I am in bereavement for my beloved wife and needed some time to rest and adjust to life on my own. Shortly after moving in I received my first letter from the TV licensing authorities. I found the style and content of the literature to be inflammatory and so decided to ignore it. Soon afterwards a second letter came and I decided to do the same as they had already caused me upset by the inappropriate correspondence they had sent me the first time. A third letter then arrived informing me that they had authorised a visit to my property which may come during the morning or the evening on an unspecified visit. Their assumption appears to be based on their own misguided self authorisation and not on any legal framework which will grant them automatic right of entry. Indeed, although I am the tenant and have a legally binding agreement - the ignorance and arrogance of the TV licensing authority do not seem to have given this adequate consideration. Becoming increasingly inflamed by their correspondence, which by its very nature is designed to cause alarm and distress which is unlawful under harassment laws - I decided to ignore them once again. Hence, the fourth letter now informs me that a court date will be set. All of this has been born from my refusal to participate in their annoying little game of stimulus/response. I have signed no documentation. I have had no contact with anyone visiting my property and yet they instigate a prosecution against me with no evidence of the one point of law they need to successfully mount a case against me - this being that I have been watching TV programmes as they are being broadcast. Such disgraceful behaviour is beneath contempt and I am dearly looking forward to my court appearance where I will (thanx to the advice given on this AMAZING site) ask to be armed with the evidence they have against me. I believe it should be unlawful for this prosecution to be initiated and shall be writing to the new director of the BBC Trust and the Office of The Attorney General to alert them as to the practices of threats and intimidation being employed by the TV licensing authorities in order that yet another layer of complaint can be added to their already blemished record of ill treatment towards members of the British public. The prosecution’s case will rest solely on one singular point of law - as mentioned above. In litigation, as many here will be aware - there is prosecution AND defence. Now then, English law provides a platform for both sides to contend against each other. I find this marvellously exciting as it will provide me with an opportunity to question and destroy the prosecution’s case against me. My defence is simple. Times have changed. Legislation has not. It is apparent that the BBC would like the license fee to also cover the shiny new (7 yr old) BBCi player - but to their frustration and resentment - legislators have not agreed to this until after the 2015 General Election. So, what do we have here? A frustrated corporation desperate for cash to pay their so called highly talented "stars" exhorbitant salaries while the rest of us struggle to put food on the table - who despite knowing that legislation only covers watching live broadcasts - STILL construct their method of acquiring income based upon threats and intimidation. This is a corporation running scared and who can only resort to such antiquated methods of extortion because the law won't support them in any other respect. What does this mean? It means that I can watch any TV programme I wish - at a time of MY convenience - not theirs - for free - whilst the BBC corporation must shoulder the cost of all their productions that I decide to watch whilst they are impotent to do anything about it. Amusing no? I think so, which is why I am so looking forward to my court date as it will be better than a day out at the beach. I’ll take a packed lunch and a cream cake for good measure.

Daddy Rat said...

And whilst I am on the subject of talent - I do not think that the likes of Graham Norton, Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathan Ross are worth their weight in salt – never mind 7 figure salaries which the BBC themselves have refused to publish. I find it deeply hypocritical that the TV licensing authorities wish to extract funds from the British public whilst the BBC refuses to declare the salaries to whom those same funds are being allocated. Are these people for real? Yes, unfortunately, this would appear to be the case. On the subject of funding, I did not read or hear of any refunds being given to license fee payers dating back to the seventies to compensate for the apathetic will to investigate claims against the now late Jimmy Saville for violations amounting to sexual abuse. The same arrogant corporation also appeared to distant itself from similar claims made against Dave Lee Travis - Stuart Hall - Chris Denning and Rolf Harris. Is the license fee payer expected to contribute to a corporation that refuses to acknowledge, let alone investigate such serious claims of misconduct? May I remind members of the public, and the British Broadcasting Corporation that it was license fee payers who paid these people's wages. Surely it should be considered unlawful to contribute to such atrocious and unacceptable activity - yet the TV licensing authorities appear to be blissfully ignorant of this - which is why I would feel perfectly within my rights to ask the TV inspectors that knock on my door if they are on the sex offenders register. After all, I am perfectly entitled to know where my money is being spent...aren't I? The current model for acquiring revenue for the BBC has gone past its sell by date and is in need of review. With UKIP making serious headway in British politics - do not be surprised if the legislation to renew the Royal charter is repealed altogether, as I have been informed by a senior member of the party that the current model is unsustainable. The BBC then, needs to find other ways to fund its lavish and extravagant lifestyle such as that enjoyed by the presenters aforementioned in order to survive. Will they be able to achieve this? Well, in order to answer that question, we need to quickly pop across the pond to our American counterparts and in the words of President Obama - "Yes we can". So why don't they? Because the current model - supported by members of the public who are intimidated and threatened with court action provides a very comfortable living for BBC executives who will do anything to maintain the status quo.. In the words of Douglas Carswell recent defector from Conservatives to UKIP – “We need change”. The time of reckoning has come. Daddy Rat draws his proverbial sword and offers those who threaten to infringe upon his freedom the opportunity to engage in conflict as I will demonstrate quite clearly to these people...how the hunter... becomes the hunted...and....if a prison sentence is all they have in their armoury against me, I openly declare that in the current economic downturn - I could do with a holiday anyway. Wish me luck won’t you? Oh and please say a little prayer for my beloved wife – She was Mummy Rat... and like me – was a strong advocate of fighting authoritarian regimes like the BBC and TV licensing inspectorate who are so deeply enamelled by their own arrogance they have forgotten the merits of courtesy and respect.

Jim said...

Hi - today a goon caught me by surprise on my doorstep (I never normally open the door to anyone). My last license expired in April. I told the goon I am a professional musician (true) and that I'd been away for five months in the US on tour (I was actually in the US from March 31 - June 2 and then again from July 5 - August 16). He accepted what I said and said he could issue me a new license from today (Sept 1). I paid in full. Now I'm concerned my house wasn't licensed from April to Sept 1 and I'll get prosecuted. I'm worried about a prosecution as I have a US work visa that when I renew will ask about criminal convictions. To be refused a work visa for the US because of TVL would really piss me off. Is it worth phoning TVL and trying to get the new license back-dated to when the old one expired?

Tapan said...

Hello all,`the TV goon contacted me today and unfortunately i didnt read this blog before so made a few mistakes. Heres What happened

My tv licence expired in may 2014 as wasnt able to renew it because i wanted to stop watching tv as the contract with virgin was too expensive. I phoned virgin to cancel my tv contract and they asked me to pay 300 pounds cancellation fee which obviously i dinnt want to pay. But i stopped watching tv but didnt disconnect it with the virgin box

TV goon shows up and tells me that he is here to renew my tv licence .

He asked me name and i gave him

He asked other details like phone number and address and NI Number and i gave him

Then i had a closer look at the form and to my surprise it was a scary prosecution agree something form and he asks me to sign it. I said well you came here to renew my licence then why do i need to sign it, he said its an offence and blah blah. I said wait a minute, let me call my elder brother and ask for advise and i called him but was speaking in my language so he wouldnt understand. I was talking to him in my kitchen and this goon suddenly hands over the copy of unsigned form to my wife and left.

I want to know will i face criminal prosecution i mean is there any way out by talking to them because i have never broken any law before, i am simply afraid to do it, I had tv licence for 5 years and always paid £145 upfront all the time, its only this time i messed up i guess.

can anything be done here because i dont want a criminal record on my name, i mean is their a way of paying the fine they ask for without having criminal record under my name?

Please help me

Anonymous said...

I have just received a summons and I am intending on pleading Guilty. I have been burying my head for a long time with debts I have and in fact do feel like a hypercrit as I am usually sensible and make sure I give out advice about bills and what not, I know awful right. So this had got me very upset and I feel utterly stupid and yes this evening my plan is to attempt to get things back on track-ish! However, as I know I deserve.. I am very scared at the fine(s) I know I am going to get and how I would pay them depending on how much they are, any advice? I also do not want and am really unable to attend... Thanks for reading!

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment.

The fine depends on your level of income. Full details available in the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines (Google).

If you are on benefits you can expect a fine of well under £100; if you are in employment it will probably be somewhere between £100-150 for a first offence. TV Licensing normally claim costs at the rate of £120, which you will also have to pay, plus the victim surcharge at 10% of the fine value (£20 minimum).

You will be asked to fill in a statement of means form, which the court will use to evaluate your personal finances when deciding the fine.

If you are likely to struggle paying, it is important that you make the court aware. The court will agree payment terms that take your situation into account.

I know you said you didn't want to attend court, however, it will look better if you do and quite often you receive a more lenient penalty if you appear in person.

haw said...

I received this letter but I was away on my vacations of 4 weeks. No I have another letter asking me to pay a sum of £300+. What shall I do?

Admin said...

Hello Haw.

If you genuinely didn't know about the court hearings, then you need to contact the court and explain matters. They should allow you to make a Statutory Declaration 0 this means you swear on oath, under penalty of perjury, that you were totally unaware of any court action against you. That will then wipe the record clean, but TV Licensing will have the option of reopening the case if they want to.

As I said - you must speak to the court.

haw said...

Thanks, I accept that I am guilty of not paying the TV Licence but fine of £200 is too much especially when I was not aware of the summon.

Regarding speaking to the court do I need to just call them on the numbers available on the letters or send them details in the original letter I received from them?

Thanks again for your quick response.

Admin said...

Call the court on the number on their headed letter. As the matter has been dealt with, albeit without your knowledge, it is now out of the hands of TV Licensing and you must deal with the court directly.

If you explain things they will point you in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you can help.A tv license man turned up at my door in April I admitted I didnt have a license and he set up a direct debit there and then. In May I received a letter to say I wouldnt be prosecuted then on 20th Sept I have a court summons. The summons is dated 18th August. Can they do this after getting a letter to say they wouldnt.

Admin said...

Sadly, yes they can.

You haven't said as much, but I'm guessing that when the goon visited in April he/she found you were watching a TV without a licence. Maybe you admitted that by signing their TVL178 Record of Interview form?

TV Licensing sometimes say that they won't prosecute, but they are not always true to their word. Legally speaking they cannot be held to their word not to prosecute either.

In future it's best not to communicate with TV Licensing at all. Be cautious of answering the door to strangers and be careful of what you say. If a TV Licensing goon turns up simply close the door on them.

Anonymous said...

Hi...really need help with this one please.

Back in April...I had a visit from a goon. The TV was on ..my daughter was watching cbeebies. I explained that we had only been in the property a week or so....he said no problem ...Sign this form...which I now know to be a TVL178.. And we can send you a payment card in the post so you can pay weekly...and that was that...or so I thought. Since then I got a job...and had to work away for a long time....forgetting about the weekly card thing....tho this may be irrelevant. Then this past Friday...I received a text message saying I had failed to pay my fine and that further action would be taken. I called the number today and found out that when the goon had visited...he had also put forward a summons...which I genuinely knew nothing about until today...and must now pay £340!!! Hugely shocked to any the least. This amount nor the summons was mentioned on the numerous times I spoke to TVLicensing over the phone in the weeks after the visit. Like I said...I genuinely knew nothing about this....the goon had blatantly lied and conned his way in to my home to get info. Any ideas on what I can do? Is the statutory declaration the best option for me? I still have some cash outstanding on the license fee...not sure exactly how much, but I can catch up on that a lot easier than the crippling fine they want me to pay. Thank you in advance for your much needed help.

Anonymous said...

...also...I found out that the given date of the summons was 2nd April. If I give the statutory dec....and the date goes past the 2nd October(ish) will the 180 day rule thing apply to anything in my case? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?


so it would seem that most of the people on here hve nothing to worry bout i on the other hand am of to court tommorow about owing £1200 to the tv licence people and i am scared out of my mind that i am going to get the worst possible outcome. tht being said i am willing to plead guilty nd pay of the money as fast as i can the problem is i have missed multiple court dates and am only just getting my life on track from years in the benefits wilderness is there any light at the end of the tunnel


apologies for an accidental double post

Anonymous said...

i received a summons today, is there anyway a payment plan can be put into actio instead of going through the courts?

Anonymous said...

I received a summons this morning. Although I had a DD for my licence and had kept up regular payments for over a year, in the past few months I have lapsed due to recent financial difficulty. Is there any way to pay for the licence outright now and also pay any backdated payments and avoid this going to court?

Anonymous said...

Hi, my wife was visited by the TV officer today as we have not got a license. This was a genuine oversight. My license was expired in April and i paid by quarterly direct debit. I then changed my bank account and transfered all my direct debits but missed off the tv licence. The license was in my name. My wife told the officer this and that shr dorsnt deal with the finances or deal with the tv licence. The officer cautioned her and then interviewed her which I feel is a bit unfair to say the least. It is a genuine over sight and can prove tge dates I changed my direct debits. How do I stand? Who will be prosecuted me or my wife? The officer told my wife that she would be finned between 1k and 5k

Admin said...

Hello Anon and thanks for your post.

I'm sorry to say that TV Licensing has the advantage in your case. They will be able to choose how they play it. Oversight or not, the fact you were watching TV unlicensed is sufficient for them to prosecute.

As it goes they have a policy whereby they don't always prosecute someone for a first-time offence. The fact you have promptly bought a licence might be enough for them to give you another chance, but they are not obliged to. If they give you a second chance it is important that you keep up with your DD payments for as long as you need a licence. If your payments lapse again then they definitely would prosecute.

If you decide in the future not to watch TV programmes, you should let TV Licensing know that you no longer legally need a TV licence BEFORE you cancel the DD.

Suppose they do go down the prosecution route: You could try telling them that you didn't need a licence, but they're unlikely to believe you as you rushed out and bought one anyway.

TV Licensing would normally prosecute the person subject to the TVL178 Record of Interview form (your wife), but they have a policy whereby the spouse of the interviewee can accept liability instead.

Let's hope they decide not to pursue the case this time.

Anonymous said...


I have just received a court summons for non payment of tv licence as missed a payment in August but I received a letter after saying they would take double payment in cot which they did at the first of this month nearly 76 pounds so that would cover the last payment so y have I today received a summons. I tried to call them but surprise surprise they don't work on a Saturday could you pleSe advise me on this as I will be calling first thing on Monday

Kind regards

Admin said...

Hello Kelly. Thanks for your comment.

By missing a payment, even if you have now made up the difference, there was a period of time when your licence was invalid. They will assume you were watching unlicensed and could still take further action.

If they have previously thrown you a lifeline, e.g. this is not the first time your payments have lapsed, then they are more likely to prosecute.

They tend not to prosecute first time offenders, as long as they keep up with subsequent payments.

Best thing to do is get them on the phone and talk to them about it.

Anonymous said...

I had a tv person turn up on my doorstep last year when I was heavily pregnant, my mum was paying my tv licence at that time (weekly) and had somehow gone a couple of weeks behind with the payments (which neither of us realised) anyway, ghe person who came to the door said I needed to make an immediate payment (which I wasnt able to do)he said the only way around it was to set up a quarterly direct debit starting the following month to give me time to get the money together. That was fine and I made the payment. Fast forward to about a month ago, unbeknown to me I had missed a direct debit payment. Another tv licence person turned up and I made the same arrangement. I somehow managed to miss thepayment, they wrote to me and said they would try to take the money again on 29th Oct so I thought everything was fine as long as I maxe sure I had paid it by then/the money was availabke for the direct debit. The following day I recieved a court summons, it is being heard in court on the 27th Oct - 2 days BEFORE they are asking the payment to be made by. Is this right? I have tried to ring them but the department I need to speak to is never available and I have been told they will ring me back but never have. I am a single parent with a young baby and I'm really worried about this. What do you think I should do?

Thanks in advance

Unknown said...

If you receive a letter of summons and TV licence caution letter is unsigned ( only signed by the enforcement officer) the name is incorrect and no date of birth and most of information in wrong.
What advice can you offer ?
Thank you in advance

Admin said...

Hello Jemma,

If the actual summons letter (from the court) is totally wrong, our advice would be to return it to the court with "not known at this address" written on it.

If the actual summons letter has the correct details on it, you should not ignore it. In that case we suggest contacting TV Licensing's prosecution team and telling them that you've received paperwork full of mistakes and omissions. Tell them that the paperwork is so bad that you look forward to seeing them in court.

In all likelihood they'll probably drop the case at that stage, as they really want to avoid being shown up in court.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the advice
Contacted them and explained and the said write the court.
This summons has incorrect spelling of name and is has a list of errors and is unsigned .
Only the enforcement office has signed it .
I will write to the court and ask for the enforcement officer to attend to give evidence and if they wish to take someone in my household to court to send a summons with correct name.
Is this the best way to move forward.
Many thanks

Admin said...

Hello Jemma,

I would contact the court and explain the situation. In your previous comment you said the "name was incorrect", but in this comment you have said it has "incorrect spelling of name". Those situations are different. A minor spelling mistake (e.g. "Gemma" instead of "Jemma") does not make the summons invalid.

Please do take it up with the court, as they are the only ones who can advise for definite.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your reply.
I fully understand what you are saying.
Apologies if it was made unclear. Yes it is a spelling error, along with a list of errors.

I will take it up with the court.

Anonymous said...

I moved into my property recently man came to the door claiming he had some documentation for me when I answered he announced he was from TV licensing and stood in my doorway preventing me from closing the door (I am a single mother at home with new baby and from what I've read it is a common tactic to try and intimidate women). Anyway TV was on and goon left a payment scheme card but I refused to sign for it then I receive a letter from TV licensing with my 'payment plan'. My question is can they enforce me to pay for this payment plan as I never signed agreement for it and can they prosecute me if I don't pay it. I wasn't cautioned and never signed anything.

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Anon.

Reading between the lines, and I could be mistaken, but it sounds as if you might actually need a TV licence. A TV licence is required for any property where equipment is used to receive (e.g. watch or record) programmes on any TV channel.

Now I've got the legal disclaimer out of the way, I shall address your specific point.

It is extremely unlikely, although I'm reluctant to say impossible, that you would ever be prosecuted on the word of a goon who didn't complete a prosecution statement (TVL178) during the visit.

It is more likely that the goon will note down his observations and TV Licensing will increase their interest in your property. Ultimately, if they think they have sufficient evidence, that could lead to a search warrant visit, although these are also very rare.

In your shoes I would prepare for further visits. Next time there's a knock at the door, be sure to identify visitors before telling them anything. If identified as from TV Licensing, close the door immediately.

It's also a sensible precaution to mute the TV before answering the door to anyone.

Silvia said...

I have received this morning a letter from the court. A man came to my flat on 21st of May 2014 asking me many questions on TV licence. I have one and it has been bought once I moved to this place one year ago.
I never had before a tv and I moved to London 4 years ago.
I didn't buy a tv licence as I am with Sky and I thought I didn't need one.
So I think i will plead guilty but I was wondering if it would be better to do it by post or in person.
Do you know how much could be the maximum fine? Do you think it would be better to contact them directly tomorrow and pay for the licence?
Any help would be much appreciated.

kathy said...

Same as me how did this pan out

Saeed said...

HI ,

My wife received a court summons under her name and a TV Caution letter with only name , mobile phone number and signed by her but no date of birth or other information .

We don't watch live TV , we connect to the internet to watch a channels speaks our language .

Can I choose plead not guilty in the court summons and avoid fine ?

please advice many thanks for your help

Unknown said...

Hello, I have also fell victim to the TV licensing goons.
I have paid my license in full for years, however in Jan 2014 I attempted and thought it was paid however said goons showed up sat my door during the world cup...Kind of hard to hide the TV...I went online after I received the questionnaire and signed, made the payment but apparently it didn't go through...The email confirmation says to click to view your license...Bottom line, received my summons the other day...Based on everyones's stories, it sounds like I should plead guilty. I have since bought the license again and am current but I still have this court date looming...I have several questions...Is it worth going to court? Do you have to fill out your financial income paperwork? Is this reported to your employer? Should I send a copy of the now paid license with the paperwork? Any more info or help would be great...

Admin said...

Hello Scott and thanks for your comment.

Based on what you've said, you probably should plead guilty. TV licence evasion is known as an absolute offence, which means you either received TV programmes without a licence or you didn't. It sounds like you did, even though it was a genuine oversight, so it would be pointless to plead not guilty.

If you select the option where you plead guilty in person, you will be able to put your side of the story across to the Magistrates. They should look favorably on your attendance, remorse and the fact you now have a licence.

We're informed that some people attending court have been able to reach an agreement with TV Licensing on the day. It is worth speaking to the TV Licensing Court Presenter, offering to pay an admin fee and seeing if they give you the benefit of the doubt and pull the case at the last minute. They sometimes do that.

Whatever you decide, we wish you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I need some advice rather quickly I think...

I got a court letter summoning me for the charge of watching TV without a licence and that I had signed a so called "Admittance Form". Now on the day in question 4th of Feb this year, a Gentleman did come round to knock on my door and, being 87 years old and a widow and somewhat intimidated by him, I let him inside. He then started to ask me all sorts of questions about how long I had had a TV for and I replied I had had one for forty seven years. Now I do indeed have a television but it is not used for watching these live broadcasts or whatever it is called these days but just watch videos and those movie disk things that my daughter and son-in-law buy me from time to time.

After nearly an hour asking me questions and poking around the back of my tv set, he then demanded that I sign a form which I wanted to read. When I went to get my reading glasses with which I need as I have weak eyes for small writing. When I was coming back from the kitchen where I had left them, I was baking a cake for my granddaughter, I tripped and broke them. The gentleman did help me up, but then pushed me into the seat and waved the forms around under my face. I am afraid to say that I was very shook up from the fall and very intimidated by the person who did not give me their name - although I think he looked slightly Indian - and just signed where he jabbed his rather dirty finger nail.

As quick as old Hitler ever was, he jumped up said something very fast I did not understand and walked out my house. I was so upset that I rang my daughter and she told me about this website where I could ask for help and you'd be able to help me. At my time of life, I don't think I'd last very long in a prison and I'm most sure that I do not need a licence or documents just to own a TV set for watching videos and those disk things.

I do hope you could find it in yourselves to help me rather quickly

Kindest Regards


Admin said...

Hello Phyllis.

As you're 87 years old you are entitled to a free TV licence anyway, so TV Licensing are unlikely to pursue the prosecution. Ring up their prosecution people at Darwen, phone number will be on the paperwork somewhere, and explain the situation.

We're pretty sure they'll drop the case as soon as you inform them of your age.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Just to let you know the Phyllis posting above was a friendly joke from your Arch-Nemesis "Crapita". We got a little bored in the office in Derby so we decided to have a little fun!

Best Wishes on taking us down

Steve Hudson, "Crapita" Derby

Anonymous said...

Hi ive currently recieved a summons from the courtn is there anyway i coulf phone up and take out a licence npw? or isit to late? thanks

Thomas said...


I am posting on behalf of my friend. She gas failed to pay for her TV licence for around 4-6 weeks. She has just had a baby and is also a mother to 2 other older children. She currently lives on around £40 a week as she pays other bills. I know and also she recognises that this us all her fault and her own doing. However she is paying bills off. Anyway she received a court summons and does not know what to do. She is extremely worried that she will end up in prison. If she has only stopped paying the TV licence for 4-6 weeks can she really be punished? Any advice would be helpful. Sharon

Admin said...

Sounds like she's fallen behind with payments by Direct Debit or payment card. Has she previously been given a warning by them?

As a summons has now been issued, her only hope is to contact TV Licensing's prosecution team in Darwen and appeal to their human nature.

The odds are not good.

Anonymous said...

Hello help! Goon came tonight and asked for my partner (wasn't in) said our direct debit must have failed and did I want to set it back up. I apologised to him and said I wasn't aware of this but I would happily correct it. He asked my name and I gave it, he then started to read my rights. I stopped him and said he had misled me and told,him I would not continue until I had spoken to my partner. He said he booked me for a callback. I have not signed anything. I told him I would need to check bank statements. Will I now receive summons? I want to ring tv licence up but I'm worried they will prosecute if I admit fault.

Unknown said...

Hi I recently received a letter to b summond to court for falling behind with my tv licence.would I have to attend even.if I try to make payment beforehand?

Anonymous said...

Hi Need urgent advice. I live in Scotland and my son's mum live in Birmingham. I do not remember ever speaking to a TV licence person at her address but got the shock of receiving a letter from bailiffs demanding unpaid fine plus costs related to TV licence. I did a statutory declaration and succeeded and managed to get case re-listed at Warwick Magistrates Court in October. However Warwick Magistrates Court have now found me guilty based on the fact that they did not receive my plea forms and advised an appeal at the Crown court. The case is now due to be heard at Warwick Crown Court end of January 2015. I am absolutely innocent and got nothing to do with address stated as my address. Where do I stand?

Admin said...

Hello Anon.
You've had a run of misfortune, so we can't really give you any solid advice other than to attend the Crown Court and tell them what you've told us.

Unknown said...

Hi there,
I have recieved a summons accusing me of using a telivision reciever without a licence.
When TV licensing visited, he asked at the door "do you want me to do it here" I said yes and he has stated I said no when he asked if he could enter.
I told him I have a TV with freeview built in, but I don't watch TV (I simply don't.) I explained that my computer games were plugged in. He has stated that the airiel was plugged in and that I admitted to recieving channels 1 to 5. He did not caution me but has stated that he did. He did not warn of prosecution or ask if theres anything else I wanted to say, but hes ticked no. He also stated that I first started using the TV without a licence 4 months ago...that's when I stopped watching TV.
I declared the property as not requiring a licence last month as I dont watch TV, and I am now being accused of watching TV? Ive had no home visits and they can't possibly have any proof because I don't watch TV... any advice on what to do? I would like to plead not guilty because I'm not, but I'm gonna get fined/jailed? This is a complete outrage and I'm being completely bullied, surely there's laws against this?

Any help woild be greatly appreciated, I'm at my wits end! Thanks :)

Eddie said...

Dear Admin and everyone,

I have received summons at my door today after the goon visited my flat back in August.

I didn't give the goon my real name on his visit hence the summon isn't on my name.

Can you please advise if I should plea guilty or not in this case.

Thank you very much in advance.


Unknown said...

I have recieved a summons, never spoke to goon, but has my name on summons, incorrect date of birth and not my signature, but looks like someone else in shared rented accomodation signed and used my name. I admit I do not have a licience, but is this summons valid, should retun as guily or not?

Admin said...

If it's not your signature and you never saw a goon, then they can't have any evidence against you personally and you should plead not guilty.

Be sure to say on the plead form "have never been interviewed by TV Licensing and that is not my signature, but a crude forgery".

Be prepared to go to court and say that (or at least make them think you are) and then they'll probably drop the case. If it does go to court they will look very stupid.

Unknown said...

How would I manage the fact that I don't actualy have a licience?

Admin said...

You don't legally need a TV licence, do you? I mean you don't use any equipment to receive TV programmes at the same time as they are broadcast.

Unknown said...

Yes. Have a tv and do watch it live

Chris W said...

My wife received a summons notice for unpaid licence between August and September last year, this was purely my fault as I pay the house bills but the question is the actual licence is in my name only and when the bloke came out to the property he took all my wife's details as I was at work but took my bank details to set up arrangements. How do we plead the case as it should be in my name not my wife's

Clinton said...

Hi today my wife received a court summons via the post for her to attend on the 23 February at 10.30 am. She got the summons after We went about a year without a TV licence after I cancelled the direct debit due to wanting to watch on demand TV and downloading program content, so we could avoid the TV licence fee, we continued to watch on demand and download via our sky box which we pay for on a monthly basis, so we were receiving a transmission from sky but for the purposes I've stated of on demand and downloading. But on September the 24th last year we received a visit from the TV licensing during this visit my wife spoke to them on the door step and did not let them in, we had our 5 year old daughter in doors and our baby aged 2 months, I held our baby whilst my wife spoke to them as the baby was upset as she wanted a feed but due to her being breast fed she had to wait for my wife to come back in. This oblivious was not nice for my wife to here our baby cry for her but she could not come to her aid causing my wife to be under extra strain during the interview. They asked her does she live here, she said yes, they guy heard the kids and said you must have a TV you've got kids my wife replied yes, but said no to having a licence. They cautioned her and next asked "do you understand" my wife said yes. Next they asked whether they could come in to inspect the set, my wife said no as it was not a good time , the baby was still crying and we had our 5 year old present to, it wouldn't of been fair on them. They asked if the TV was on my wife said no the man asked again but the other guy who was standing there said she just said no. they did not here any TV or test any channels. next my wife incriminated herself by not fully understanding the question partly due to her having dyslexia and the baby was still crying, she was in a rush to get into the baby, the guy asked when did you last use the set for watching live TV programmes here? My wife replied "Today" She thought the question they were asking was when did she last watch the TV, she did not understand that live TV meant a program that was currently being broadcast at the time of watching. she did not know that the programmes we watched on demand and downloaded did not count as live TV. She told them she owned the set and her package was sky. My wife not knowing this agreed to a monthly direct debit of which I changed to a quarterly at a later date, we currently have a valid TV licence. What should she plead I believe she not guilty but I am worried the courts will fine her a larger amount if found guilty, we don't have much money as we are on disability benefits due to me having Epilepsy and asperser’s Syndrome meaning I also can't afford a solicitor and legal aid doesn't cover this matter. I don't want my wife to get a criminal conviction for something she did not do. I have no way of proving that we were only watching on demand and downloaded content.

glittersniffer said...

I received a court summons a couple of weeks ago and was hoping for a bit of advice. Two goons came to my door last September and I told them my name but I didn't let them in and I didn't sign their form. They are saying that they 'heard TV at door' and that's their evidence. My word against theirs. I've pleaded not guilty and I'm waiting on another date to be set. Is there anything I could use as evidence that I don't watch live TV? Like pictures of the cut aerial? Or is it only them who can submit evidence to prove my supposed guilt? I can't afford legal help so I'll be in court on my own. Any advice will be great thanks

Admin said...

Hello glittersniffer.

It sounds like it will come down to your word against theirs. Remember that a TV licence is only needed if you watch "live" broadcast TV programmes. That being the case, you could say that the goons heard a DVD and you never watch any TV programmes. If all they've said is "we heard TV", then it would be difficult for them to refute your claim. If, on the otherhand, they say "we heard The One Show at 7 pm", then they have a stronger case.

Please do read through our full ebook for more advice.

Best of luck and please let us know how it goes.

Clinton said...

Hi today my wife received a court summons via the post for her to attend on the 23 February at 10.30 am. She got the summons after We went about a year without a TV licence after I cancelled the direct debit due to wanting to watch on demand TV and downloading program content, so we could avoid the TV licence fee, we continued to watch on demand and download via our sky box which we pay for on a monthly basis, so we were receiving a transmission from sky but for the purposes I've stated of on demand and downloading. But on September the 24th last year we received a visit from the TV licensing during this visit my wife spoke to them on the door step and did not let them in, we had our 5 year old daughter in doors and our baby aged 2 months, I held our baby whilst my wife spoke to them as the baby was upset as she wanted a feed but due to her being breast fed she had to wait for my wife to come back in. This oblivious was not nice for my wife to here our baby cry for her but she could not come to her aid causing my wife to be under extra strain during the interview. They asked her does she live here, she said yes, they guy heard the kids and said you must have a TV you've got kids my wife replied yes, but said no to having a licence. They cautioned her and next asked "do you understand" my wife said yes. Next they asked whether they could come in to inspect the set, my wife said no as it was not a good time , the baby was still crying and we had our 5 year old present to, it wouldn't of been fair on them. They asked if the TV was on my wife said no the man asked again but the other guy who was standing there said she just said no. they did not here any TV or test any channels. next my wife incriminated herself by not fully understanding the question partly due to her having dyslexia and the baby was still crying, she was in a rush to get into the baby, the guy asked when did you last use the set for watching live TV programmes here? My wife replied "Today" She thought the question they were asking was when did she last watch the TV, she did not understand that live TV meant a program that was currently being broadcast at the time of watching. she did not know that the programmes we watched on demand and downloaded did not count as live TV. She told them she owned the set and her package was sky. My wife not knowing this agreed to a monthly direct debit of which I changed to a quarterly at a later date, we currently have a valid TV licence. What should she plead I believe she not guilty but I am worried the courts will fine her a larger amount if found guilty, we don't have much money as we are on disability benefits due to me having Epilepsy and asperser’s Syndrome meaning I also can't afford a solicitor and legal aid doesn't cover this matter. I don't want my wife to get a criminal conviction for something she did not do. I have no way of proving that we were only watching on demand and downloaded content.

Admin said...

Hello Clinton and thanks for your message.

Sadly cases like yours are quite common. You don't receive TV programmes, therefore you don't need a licence. Unfortunately the fact your wife was lured into saying "I watched TV earlier today" could count against her.

You should plead not guilty, as you aren't. Make sure the court is aware of the circumstances - e.g. baby was upset, wife didn't understand as she was stressed/hurried/dyslexic. Perhaps the goon laid it on a bit thick and was intimidating.

If push comes to shove and you do need to attend court, just tell them what you've told me. The reason so many people are stitched up by TV Licensing is that they fail to attend court. By attending court, if the need arises, you are already in a better position to fend off TV Licensing.

Please read our free ebook for more info.

Best of luck and please let us know how it goes.

Clinton said...

Thank you for the reply in your opinion and from experience from what I've told you what chance does my wife stand because I don't want her to go through all the stress of court, just then to be found guilty even knowing she is 100% not guilty and then to be slapped with sky high fine.

Admin said...

Clinton, all I can say is that in my experience court is actually not such a daunting experience.

Everything is explained very clearly and if your wife pleads not guilty then she will have the chance to put her side of the story across and the court will listen. You don't need a TV licence, because you don't watch "live" TV programmes. The court will hear that.

I can also say that even if the worst happens and they decide your wife is guilty, then the fine won't be half as bad as you think.

It's your call, but I certainly wouldn't be admitting to something I hadn't done.

Clinton said...

Thank you for the advise and I will let you know how it goes.

jaisai said...

Hi Admin and everyone!
I am in a rather odd situation at the moment. BasicallyI did not know that we needed tv licence to watch TV in UK. My housemates and I are internaional students. We watched TV without licence for about 2 weeks since we moved in.

The goon then came to my house. I unknowingly gave them my name and date of birth. I was under the impression that he was trying to sell me TV licence so I refused to sign the form. When I foundout from him that we need TV licence to watch TV. We promised him we will not watch it anymore amd we will not need a licence. He assured us that this is ok. We have not turned on TV since.

Then the warning letter of prosecution came and my uousemate called them to get the declaration that we do not need TV. Again we are assured that this will be fine and we will not be bothered by them again.

However, now I just received a summon from the court. The problem is because the account of watching TV is under my name and foolishly the declaration is under my housemate's name. But we both live in the same address.
What do you think I should do? We are going to talk to CAB tomorrow but we are going to need all the advice we can get.
We appreciate any help you may be able to give us.
Thank you!

George said...

Hi Admin and everyone!
I share a house with another tenant, he lives in the first floor and I live in the ground floor. We share all bills, reception and garden but have two different TVs and a separate entrance inside the house, a door locking the corridor that brings you upstairs. In the contract we signed a year ago it says we can use the facilities of “GROUND FLOOR ONLY”, like this, in capitals. The one in charge of the TV license is our landlord.
Apparently he forgot to pay the tv license and we had a goon knocking at our door. He asked for the license and I failed to show it to him. At the time I didn’t even know it wasn’t paid. Naively I gave him my name and signed his “warning”, after he assured me it was only a warning. I asked my landlord to pay for the license and he did it the following day. Months later we received a warning asking to pay the tax but we knew it was paid (we had the document) so we did nothing thinking it was a mistake of them.
Weeks later came the brown envelope with the summon to court. It reads: “On 06/10/14 used a COLOUR television receiver without a licence at the above address…”. We called them and found out that the officer who came into the house, might have realized about the separation of the house and stated that we were two separate floors so we had to pay for two tv licenses. Because the payment did not specify about ground or first floor, it appeared in the system as not paid yet. The man on the phone said that once our landlord contacted them and paid the second tv license they would drop all charges against me. Which I’m not sure it means I’m not being taken to court any more, since as far as I know once you have been summoned, TV license can’t stop the prosecution.
Now our landlord came with the “perfect solution”. He has proposed me and my housemates, the ones we only share bills but live in separate flats, to sign a Joint Tenancy Agreement which will allow him to keep paying only one TV license and, always according to him, will end all my problems with the justice. I still haven’t read this agreement; he will send it to us during the weekend. I’m quite reluctant, since I’m not sure if it will reflect the real sharing conditions of the house, and given that I might attend court in a month I don’t think signing a document that can be contradictory with the statement “GROUND FLOOR ONLY” would be a good idea.
Any clues?

Anonymous said...

Hi! Firstly, what a relief to find your site!! Thankyou! I'm in a right pickle, I left my previous address fleeing domestic violence, sometime after I recived a letter at my new address saying I owed money for a court fine. I phoned and explained I hadn't recived a summoneds as I no longer lived there but would pay the fine as I didn't think I had any other option. This fine was coming out of my benefits. However it stopped as my new partner had started work and I forgt about it...Until last Thursday I had a baliff at my door demanding £870 or he was taking my belongings. My partner came home from work and managed to talk him down and was told we had until the 27th of this month to come up with the money. As you can imagine I've been frantic, my doctor has put me on medication for anxiety and its affected my whole family. Where am I going to get 900 from?? The thing is...I wasn't even aware of the summonds so disn't have a chance to defend myself, is there anything I can do?? Thanks in advance x

Admin said...

Hello Anon.
You need to contact the court and explain the situation.
As bailiffs are involved, it is a sign that the court is trying to enforce payment of the fine/costs etc.

Anonymous said...

Hope someone can advise. I have not had a tv license since 31st of Dec, my fault, I just simple forgot/treated it as a lower priority. I had a visit from a tv license officer, I told her I had sent a cheque in the post (which I did straight after) but admitted to having no paper tv license and watching tv. She gave the impression it isn't a problem and I shouldn't get a court summons. However having since read online about people getting summoned for not having a license for only a short period and dishonest officers added with the fact her form says I refused to allow her inside (she didn't ask) makes me think I will get a court summons. I admitted verbally to watching tv with no tv license but didn't sign her form. I was wondering does anyone know what the chance of a court summons are after an officers visit. I am weighing up whether to be proactive and contact tv licensing stating I have done wrong and not wanting to get the court involved or is it best to ignore it as most likely nothing will happen now i've sent a cheque. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Hey hope you can help I had a 'goon' come over in September 2014, I let them in, we were watching Netflix on the TV via the playstation as we always do. She said that I didn't have a valid license I said I didn't have one because I don't watch live TV and can't afford to pay for something I am not getting use out off. While conducting her interview she asked me to turn the TV on to the free view channels so she could write it on her form and stupidly I did because I thought if I didn't do as I asked I would be in more trouble for not cooperating, I explained to her that my understanding was that if I didn't watch live TV I didn't need a licence but she said I was wrong and I was told I needed a valid licence so I set up a direct debit. I received a court summons and went yesterday for the initial plea hearing to which I pleaded not guilty and now I have to go back in April, I just need a bit of advise as to what I can do next because naturally I don't want to pay
Many thanks

Admin said...

Hello Natasha and thanks for your comment.

By tuning into a Freeview channel, albeit at the goon's request, you have technically committed an offence.

It's a bit of a low trick by the goon. She set you up in order to trick you into committing the offence, which they are now prosecuting you for.

If I was in your shoes I would be ringing up TV Licensing prosecution team in Darwen to explain that you were set up by the goon in question. I would also make it quite clear that you're prepared to go to court and say the same thing.

They may well drop the case before it gets that far, but if they don't then you must make the effort to attend court in person and explain what happened. The court will listen to you.

Have you got a copy of the TVL178 form (you should have). Could you please email it to us, so we can look it over? E: tvlicensingblog (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks and best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've just received a court summons for using my tv without a licence between 8/9/2014-9/10/2014. I'm not making any excuses apart from there were other things that prioritised at the time,(I usually pay for it all in one to get it out the way) I had a visit from a rather friendly guy and I set up a payment plan with him, all good so I thought, until today! My query is that his witness statement is included with the summons, on it it says he made an error on the original paperwork being the time he read the caution and my answer that I had understood the caution being 'Yes' both of these not filled out on the form and left blank, this is because he didn't read me the caution plus my date of birth is wrong, I was purely on the understanding that he was round to set up a new direct debit and to see if I had a tv set up, if his details on the form are incorrect and also I wasn't read the caution is there anything i can do?
Thanks for any help :-)

Anonymous said...

A couple of questions:

I have a restored 1951 B&W bush TV22. It is only connected to a DVD player. There is no antenna/dish/cable to my property. I need no TV licence.

I have broadband to my PC but do not use it to watch live TV.

Q1) What evidence do the goons need to assume you are watching live TV? Presumably they must catch you in the act. Spying through a window may look like you're watching live TV. Does their evidence require them to see the TV receiving live programmes? Do they have the legal right (with a warrant) to come in, plug the antenna in and switch it on? If not, how can they force the owner to show it works?

Q2)Do TVL have the authority to either examine a PC or check with the ISP to ascertain if it has ever been used to watch live TV? Is "I don't use my broadband connection to watch live TV good" enough?

Incidentally, I understand a TV licence is required to watch live TV from ANY country, via satellite, the ionosphere or broadband. This seems madness...

Thanks. Your site is providing an in valuable service. Nick M

Admin said...

Hello Anon (Nick M) and thanks for your questions, which I shall address in turn.

1. They must either catch you in the act of receiving TV programmes without a valid TV licence OR have your admission that you have done so in order to prosecute.

As you seem aware already, TV Licensing has no automatic rights of entry to any property. We would discourage the occupier from allowing them entry voluntarily.

In rare circumstances, where TV Licensing considers it has credible evidence that an offence is being/has been committed, then it can apply for a search warrant.

The warrant only allows them to search for, examine and test TV receivers. A PC is not a TV receiver unless actually used for that purpose.

They could ask to examine a PC, but the only way that could prove an offence was being/had been committed is if it was actually streaming TV programmes at the time. Even if TV programmes could be seen in the browser history, that would not be proof that an offence was being/had been committed.

Their warrant does not allow them to remove equipment from the premises.

The ISPs do not provide TV Licensing with information, nor is TV Licensing entitled to ask for it.

How TV Licensing goes about obtaining warrants has been a regular source of discussion here, so can I suggest you search a bit. In short, all they need to do is convince a Magistrate/Judge that they are unlikely to gain voluntary access to the property and they have credible grounds to suspect an offence is being/has been committed there. Some Magistrates/Judges have higher standards than others.

In the past we know warrants have been granted on the basis that a goon "thinks he saw a TV set in use" or "heard TV programmes" and saw some external evidence on the property (e.g. a satellite dish or TV aerial in good condition).

Quite often their evidence is a farce.

Unknown said...


We my husband a summons today to go to court or plead guilty by post etc for the tv licence.
Wehad made one installment payment and being self employed etc we forgot the next one.
He promptly phoned them the nuber which was on the summons went straght to the T V Licence department, we paid it in full and they said they would quash the summons and did not need to do anything else, not send the plea of guilty form etc.
I am worried that some time down the line a baliff will come if we were told it would have been quashed.
Can they do this as the summons has been drawn up? It did not have a court embossed stamp either...
Any advice would be grateful!

Admin said...

Hello Maggie.

As long as you have it in writing that the charges have been withdrawn, then you should be okay. If you don't have it in writing, then you must get it in writing - you cannot trust anything TV Licensing says over the phone.

If you default on your payments again within the next 6 months they could still prosecute you for the same offence. It's not totally "struck out" at the moment.

Mholly said...

Hi - I've just received a summons today for next Monday at a court round 120 miles away. Given the timescale and also the fact that they have spelt my surname wrongly, is there anything I can do?
Thanks. Mike

Admin said...

Hello Mike and thanks for your comment.

I'm struggling to think of anywhere in England & Wales that is 60 miles away from the nearest TV Licensing court. I suppose if you were in Berwick Upon Tweed and had to appear at North Tyneside Magistrates', that would be around about 120 miles round trip.

It may be possible to get the case transferred to a court closer to home, but TV Licensing aren't obliged to do that. You will have to ring up their prosecution team and see if they are open to negotiation on the venue. Be sure to get anything they say in writing, as their spoken word is not good enough.

A minor spelling mistake in your surname does not invalidate the summons.

Anonymous said...

Hi, can anyone help. I had a visit today and the officer asked all the normal questions and I admitted I had a TV but as it was a holiday home it had not been in use and in fact we only arrived last night so the TV had not been used until he came in to the property and asked me to turn it on. When he turned up I was just on the way out to the car to unpack. In fact, when switched on it was not working as neither the TV or freeview box were on until I turned them on for him. I was quite on edge and felt uncomfortable and therefore answered questions and signed the TVL178 form without really checking but just realised it says on there that I first used the TV yesterday, and it was last used today. It had not been used since last August. I also had a licence from August to January this year but cancelled it as we could not rent out this holiday let property and we had only come to check it over but decided to have a few days away. I was also going to arrange one but as it was a last minute get away I was going to buy one today before using it but we do not have a computer here and there is no phone signal so would have done so when we were in an area with a signal (no excuse but fact).I am really worried of what will happen next and it also only says my name but my wife agrees it should also be her as she is responsible for paying the bills too. I offered to pay the full year immediately and he said we should go inside..and now I know why. He also said if I paid in full and because this is a second property then no further action will be taken. Should I highlight the incorrect usage information on the form or is it too late as I have signed it and can I change the name and if so how. Any help would be appreciated. KH

Admin said...

Hello KH and thanks for your comment.

What you don't say, but I'm assuming from your tone, is that you own the holiday property in question.

That being the case, if you turned on the TV set and received TV programmes in the goon's presence - even though he requested it - then you have committed an offence. It's not fair, but it's one of TV Licensing's tactics to get the occupier to self-incriminate like that.

As it stands, I think you'll just have to wait and see what happens. They may not prosecute, but if they decide to then your best bet is probably to admit the offence, but make sure your circumstances are clear.

Had it been someone else's holiday home, then you would have a much better chance of negotiating with TV Licensing and having them drop any charges.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks and unbelievable to catch people out like that. I thought about phoning as it caused a completely restless night worrying and cannot put up with 6 months of not knowing what will happen but I would definitely turn up to court. Does it do any good to call to find out what is happening or are they not particularly helpful? KH

Admin said...

Hello again KH.

I'm not sure where you got that 6-month comment from. If you've received a summons and they want you to appear in court next Monday, then you will know to outcome next Monday as well (unless you choose to plead not guilty, in which case it will be adjourned pending a trial date).

If you have any questions by all means phone then. Given that you're already facing prosecution, you can't really do any harm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I have not had a summons though and only had a visit and nit was said by paying in full would not result in prosecution but that seems to be a standard comment from many comments on here. Either way, hopefully I don't receive the summons and hence why I wasn't sure if there was any point in calling. On his visit he also arranged for my licence to be paid before the TVL form was signed so effectively means that the TV licence was in place when he asked me to turn the TV on for him. Is there any mileage in that argument do you think? Last question I promise. The 6 month comment came as I understood it could take 6 months to get a summons and they often leave it late so you forget what happened but I have detailed it anyway. KH

Admin said...

My apologies KH. I was getting you confused with an earlier commentator, who said he had received a summons to appear on Monday.

In your case the best option is to sit and wait to see what happens. As you're aware, it could be 5 months before you hear anything, so it is very important you keep a note of everything that happened during the goon's visit.

Anonymous said...

thanks very much for your time. will keep fingers crossed. Fantastically helpful site by the way.KH

Mholly said...

Hi - just thought I'd let you know of a victory! I told TVL that I had received the summons in a very short timeframe, given the summons was for this coming Monday but also that we had been told by the "gentleman" who visited us that if we paid the necessary, we wouldn't be prosecuted and that this was almost 6 months ago (5 1/2 to be exact.). He did some checks and came back to say the summons had been cancelled. Yaaay!!!
BTW - Cornwall to Weymouth is 120 miles one way!!! Hence my comment on how far I had to go if I did plead not guilty! What's wrong with Exeter or Plymouth for heaven's sake???
Great site and very helpful, thank you because without having read through all this I wouldn't have had a clue.

Admin said...

That's great news Mholly. As I said earlier, you need to get that in writing. As you received a summons, it means the case is in the court system - that being the case, you can't rely on informal word of mouth over the phone. At the very least they need to email you confirmation that the charges have been withdrawn.

I would appreciate if you got in touch with us via email (see sidebar). I'd like to share your full experiences and comments with my other readers, many of whom could face a similar situation.

Many thanks and well done on getting a result.

Anonymous said...

Hi, an officer called round to mine in Nov last year. I didn't hold a tv license as it was a new property and I had been told by a friend that a license wasn't needed for streaming/netflix etc During the 'interview' I was given the impression that I did need a license and could face charges if I fail to sign up. A week or so after I read up on what constituted an 'appropriate license' and cancelled mine as a result. The summons is for the 7 day period prior to the visit as I admitted t watching TV in that time. I was referring to online streaming. The distinction between catch up and live was never established and I mistakenly signed he form. Also, the ariel was attached to the TV even though it hadn't been used for that purpose.

I should also add that on the section of the signed form that asks 'May I come in and inspect the set' the officer has entered 'No'. How is this likely to be interpreted in court?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Hedy said...

if i plead guilty on summons , after that they can take me again to the court, even i do not watch any tv ? or i goon needs to come to my door again and i sign it ? i m going to the court 0n may of 2015, i will plead guilty because i signed the document that the goon gave to me to sign it. but i dont want pay anymore tv licence because i dont watch live tv, it is possible they send me agin to the court??

regards Hedy

Unknown said...

I hope someone can help me here. I don't need a licence as I watch on-demand. In January, a Capital guy was waiting at my door at about 7:30pm as I return from work (after a 3hour round trip). I informed him that I don't need a TV licence as I don't watch live TV. He wanted to come in but I offered for him to return at another time as 7:30pm is rather later and after just returning from work. At this point, I open my door, went in and shut the door.

I have since forgotten about it (and continue to watch iplayer, netflix etc) until I received a summon today (27/05/2015). There was a partly completed TV 178 form and unsigned by me, alleging that I watch color tv and should appear in court.

I intend to plead not guilty, of course, but any advise on what to include in my defense will be appreciated.

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Unknown.
In this case you are right to plead not guilty - it sounds like a clear case of a disgruntled goon fabricating evidence to hit his targets.
I'd be grateful if you could get in touch by email (also send a copy of the TVL178 with your details blanked out) if you can: tvlicensingblog (at) gmail (dot) com
TV Licensing regularly read this blog, so it's better to discuss strategy in private.
Please note that I won't be able to reply until this evening.

Anonymous said...

Hi I received summons for TV licence, ,over into property feb 2015 and TV licence man came round,this was fine and sent payment card to pay, no problem with this, end of March TV broke not replaced so declared require no TV licence and got e-mail to confirm, a few days later got letter to state behind on payments but thought account not updated yet so ignored, a few day ago received letter stating thar I an £62 in arrears and based on what I have so far covers me to 29/4/15 which to me they owe me a refund, rang TV licensing that even to explain declared required no TV and was that was fine there we be no further action then next day received summons.
Contacted legal department at TV licensing to be told the summons stand as I broke agreement from February 2015, stated surely me declaring no longer required filter through but she states summons stand the only way they will withdraw summons if I purchased a full TV licence and then declare it again to get refund. I intend to plead not guilty as I did everything I thought needed to be done, but after speaking to legal department I am now questioning decision, can someone advise me if I have a case if I plead not guilty

Anonymous said...

Hi i hope someone can help me. Few days ago a goon came to my house, i signed TVL form but told him i am not the owner of the house. i gave him the owner"s name and he wrote on that form that i am not responsable and the only responsable is the owner and to let him know about his visit when he comes home. I signed the form and he told me not to worry, what do you think about this?

Admin said...

Hello Anon, thanks for your comment.
Truthfully I think you could be in the shit.
It is only TVL policy that stops them from prosecuting visitors. Legally speaking they could do, so you're relying on the word of that goon. Goons regularly tell lies.
If they do proceed, you'll have a good defence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying so fast! But he wrote on that form that i'm not responsable, he also wrote the owner's name and he is the only one responsable. By the way i told him i live for few days at that address, and next day the owner paid his licence. I think they realized i told them the truth because that man paid his licence, told them i live for few days to that address so it's not hard to guess i was just a visitor.

Hedy said...

I need some advice please... I went to court and I payed the fine... Few days after they call me to ask if I need a TV licence, and I told them that I don't need! I trwow way all my receivers of my house! The question is if they come to knock my door what I suppose to do ???

Admin said...

Hello Hedy.
Ignore them.
If you've thrown away all your TV receivers, then TVL will look stupid if they try to pursue you (or stitch you up).

Hedy said...

So I shouldn't let them in to my house?? They know my details bcz I went to court before... U think they won't take me again to the court again bcz I didn't open the door for them? Or Giving my signature it's the relevant thing to persue me??

Patrick said...

Hi, firstly thank you for running such a great blog!

I used to pay my TV license back in 2014 but then stopped as I was no longer watching live TV, everything I watched was through the internet, like Netflix and Youtube (chromecast). Whilst I was away my wife opened the door and was intimidated into answering the questions of the goon, she told him:
1. We have a TV
2. She watched TV in the morning
3. It is an owned TV which has built in Freeview
It also states on the TVL178 "Yes, I dont know that the D/D is cancelled. I will pay online"

Obviously when I came back I was disappointed to see the TVL178 copy and that she had answered any of his questions, I told her that we do not need a TV license as we watch Youtube, Netflix and stuff we've downloaded, i ignored the letters and now received a summons. Based on the information on the TVL178 it seems slightly problematic as shes admitted to watching TV and having Freeview, my question is - would you advice she pleads guilty (and shes on benefits) or she goes to court and explains that she had misunderstood and that the TV has built in freeview but we watch through the internet only - how likely are they to believe these further details?


Admin said...

Hello Patrick and thanks for your comment and kind words.
Your wife is in a difficult position and she needs to weigh up the "guilty" or "not guilty" choice carefully.

As you know already, a TV licence is not needed for non-live content via Netflix, YouTube etc. Obviously as she's admitted to watching a Freeview TV then she's at a bit of a disadvantage to begin with, however, if I was in a similar position it would stick in my throat to plead guilty to an offence I hadn't committed. I would go down the not guilty route, but on the understanding that I might lose.

If she pleads not guilty she needs to make it quite clear what the true situation is (no live TV, just non-live catch-up) and explain how the goon's leading line of questioning led her into wrongly incriminating herself. Better still if she can say she was misled, scare or intimidated into signing the form.

If TV Licensing decide to pursue it (by no means certain) then they will undoubtedly want to make it look as if ownership/use of a Freeview TV set equals guilt. It doesn't. Nowadays it isn't even possible to buy a TV set that doesn't have Freeview built in. The mere ability to receive TV programmes is not an offence. Unless that set is actually used to receive TV programmes (e.g. you flick to a TV channel), then no offence is committed. If questioned further about the Freeview she can say that you listen to the radio on your TV set.

It's important to hold your nerve and sound authoritative in any dealings with TV Licensing. They will undoubtedly take it right to the wire and make it sound like she's got no chance.

Remember they're a bunch of lying bastards, who'd stiff their grannies for a few dishonest quid.

Anonymous said...

I have received a fine of £406 does the court accept payment arrangements

I cannot afford to pay all this in one go

Eleanor said...

Hi admin,

I'm so relieved to have come across a site offering such great advice about dreaded TV licensing - I'm really impressed by the information I've come across on here.

My predicament is a bit of a peculiar one, and I'm really hoping you can offer some views on what I should do and what my rights are. In brief, back in February, a friend of mine who has never lived at my property opened the door to a TV Licensing man / mega goon. My licence had expired at the end of December and I hadn't got round to renewing it (I know, that bit is definitely my fault). My friend tried to explain to the goon that she didn't live in my flat and refused when he asked if he could come in (it was 8pm on a Saturday night and I was having a party).

A few days later, I decided it was about time I renewed my licence, so I went online to do this and set up a direct debit....or so I thought. Since then, I've heard nothing from the TV Licensing folks, so had assumed everything was fine. Until last night, that is, when I opened a letter addressed to the aforementioned friend and found a court summons in her name. The letter was dated 6th July, but I had wanted to wait till I'd spoken to my friend before opening it. The court hearing is today, and I'm not able to attend. Yikes.

What puts me in an even more hairy position is that I've just gone through my bank statements for the past six months and it looks like I never did set up the direct debit (I really thought I had). I have been online now, though, and renewed the licence, which is backdated to when the last one expired.

Now I don't know what to do, and I can't find any information anywhere about who I should contact to explain the situation (and I've no idea if it would do any good anyway). I would argue that this whole case should be thrown out of the window, on the grounds that they were clearly targeting the wrong person (my friend did try to explain this to the goon at the time). Had they contacted me personally (TV Licensing has my name and my email address - I've received emails from them in the past), I would definitely have renewed the licence well before now. I didn't even know a case was being heard today until yesterday!

I'm also quite worried about what this means for my friend. Obviously I'm more to blame for not promptly renewing my previous licence when it expired. But her only crime was opening the door to the goon and telling him he couldn't come in to my flat. Surely you can't convict someone for that?!

Any advice you can offer me on what on earth I should do now would be hugely appreciated.

Thanks very much,


Lily of the valley said...

Dear Admin,
I need some advice please....

I have received a court summons recently accusing me of not owning a license!In the first case, we don't own a tv at all! We own laptops,ipad and a tablet. Secondly, we had a license on the given date( in my husband's name) but it had not yet been transferred to our new address.
I am new to this place and also I was resting at home during the final stages of my pregnancy due to Pre eclampsia. The TVLI sounded intimidating and spoke about a huge fine and asked me to sign the document as a record of the interview..... unfortunately I did! While shifting, we have misplaced our counter-foil which i am sure read differently! We do have an email proof of the license.
I want to plead not guilty; could you please guide?

Thank you

Admin said...

Hello Lily and thanks for your comment.

A TV licence is needed for those properties where any sort of equipment is installed or used for receiving TV programmes. This means you could be guilty of an offence if you watched TV programmes on your iPad (or whatever) when no licence was in force. It is worth contacting TV Licensing to explain your situation - e.g. you had simply forgotten to transfer the licence across to your new property. Technically speaking you may have committed an offence, but TV Licensing should only prosecute if it's in the public interest to do so. In your case, I'd say it isn't.

You will know if you have (technically) committed an offence. If you have, and it gets as far as court, then it's probably best to plead guilty. Make sure you explain things exactly as you have to me, then the court should be as lenient as it can be.

Best of luck whichever way it goes.

Admin said...

Hello Eleanor and thanks for your comment.
Yours is indeed a very strange case. As the summons is in your friend's name, then it is probably he/she that needs to be dealing with it. They need to contact the court and discuss the situation. The court might allow them to make a Statutory Declaration to the effect that they learnt about the summons late and therefore could not attend court.
I can't really offer any more advice than that. I wouldn't want to give you any duff information.

Lily of the valley said...

Thanks a lot and will keep you posted about any progress

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether you still have to pay for a TV licence if you are caught without one, get a summons and plead guilty, even if you get rid of the TV? Is there a need to buy one to cover the period where you didn't have one retrospectively? I suppose once you have been convicted of the crime, they can't convict you again, so there is no risk in not paying for a TV licence if you don't have a TV anymore.

Admin said...

No, you can't be ordered to retrospectively buy a TV licence for the period you were unlicensed. What often does happen, is that if you buy a new licence TV Licensing will backdate it so that you do end up paying for the unlicensed period. They can only do that if you buy a new licence though.

Jodders said...

I am returning to the UK later in the year having spent some years abroad.
When I return, I do not wish to watch any UK TV programs.
I do wish to watch RT news, which is broadcast from Moscow.
The current rules state that a license is required when watching or recording any live program, from wherever broadcast.
Does anyone have any information as to how one could appeal against this law, whereby the UK government is paid for a service is does not provide?

Admin said...

Hello Jodders.

You've spotted the idiocy of the current legislation. However, idiotic as it may be, appealing legislation is also very time-consuming and costly.

My advice would be to either pay for a TV licence, or don't get caught watching RT!

Anna said...

Hello Admin,

I was visited by a TVL agent last night who said my house was unlisted for a TV licence.
After me explaining I already had one (from August last year)and he investigated his system it transpired that my account had been 'cancelled' in January.
This was when i rearranged the quarterly payment date, so my DD was cancelled and another was set up - from which I have an email from TVL confirming my changes had been updated (with a reference number). However this had evidently not worked properly.
Obviously I was unaware of this as we don't check our DD's and just assume they go through.
I told the TVL agent this and opened another account, set up the quarterly payments and paid the first instalment.
He did say usually that would be enough but could not assure me that I wouldn't still be prosecuted. And that the decision was 'out of their hands'.
I would like to resolve this matter before any possible summons occurs but I am unsure as to whom I contact or whether I could 'nip it in the bud' beforehand.
I do have the email evidence, account details etc, but as it is out of their hands I dont know whether to still contact them, or another division.
My concern is that with this overlap there are still months that payments hadn't been made (unbeknownst to me) so even though I haven't done anything ethically wrong, they could still have grounds to fine me.
If you could help in any way it would be really appreciated.

Admin said...

Hello Anna and thanks for your comment.
You are correct that TV Licensing could still decide to prosecute you for unlicensed TV reception during that 6-month payment gap. It wouldn't be in the public interest to do that, given you made a genuine oversight, but they don't always take the just decision.
In all honesty it is probably best to sit and wait. Keep your papers safe in case they are actually needed. If you contact TV Licensing early, there is the real chance they will not have a clue what you're on about. Remember that they like to pad these things out for as long as possible, so it could be 2 or 3 months before the relevant paperwork for them to even consider a prosecution is in place.
If you do hear anything, then is your opportunity to act - you set up a DD in good faith, as demonstrated by your papertrail, but a cock-up at their end meant it didn't happen. They are responsible for the mistake, not you.

Anonymous said...

I had just woken up tv gentleman knocked the door he said he does not want to come in he said do i have a tv box i said yes but cant watch it i dont have a digital box it is old he said well when you do get a licence he said what do you like to watch i said eastenders he was speaking about his family and said just sign here to say i paid a visit. i scribbled signature and shut door( had to see to my children) 3 months later i have a summons?? he left me no documentation he was as nice as pie. but before i recieved this summons i got a tv licence 30/6/2015 and letter came week later for a hearing 21/8/15. I am pleading not guilty i did have a tv but at the time no digi box to allow it to work as soon as i got one i purchased a licence. please can i have your view on this

Admin said...

My view is that you've been stitched up.
You should have a copy of the TVL178 form, and I bet it says "admitted watching Eastenders". The fact you've signed it is not good, because you've basically admitted that everything the goon wrote (which you should have read carefully, but didn't) is accurate.
You have two main options:
1. Contact TV Licensing's prosecution team, tell them what you've told me, explain that you'll happily plead not guilty at court and tell them how you were stitched up. That might be enough to get them to drop the case.
2. Go to court, plead not guilty and tell them how you were tricked into a confession. Hopefully they'll believe you.
You will be in a better position if you have some witnesses that support the fact you didn't have any way of receiving digital TV programmes.
Good luck and fingers crossed!

Jeremy said...

Hi Admin,

In April we had a man come from TV licensing and I answered the door, I told him we have a Now TV Box and we'd have it for about 2 months and I think it has a subscription because my girlfriend and kids use it. He told me I needed a license and told me a load of other stuff and got me to sign the paper so I did. We got a thing in the post a few weeks later saying we hadn't paid the license and it was being transferred to a debt collector and my girlfriend questioned me about it I told her what I'd said. She said to me we didn't have a subscription they just use the catch-up stuff on the apps on the box.

She then rang up TV license but got me to confirm my details to them (I hate speaking to people) and explained to them that we didn't have a subscription and didn't watch live TV. They said that's fine and they'd take us off the list so we thought it was done with until today when I've received a summons to court. I suffer quite bad anxiety attacks and take diazepam and don't think I could go and stand in court and speak in all honesty the thought of it makes me feel uncomfortable. What should I do? Thank you.

Admin said...

Hello Jeremy,

You should have received a copy of the TVL178 Record of Interview form with your summons. Study the form carefully. If you have signed an admission (e.g. the form says you watched TV without a licence yesterday) then you will obviously have problems convincing the court otherwise.

If, as is often the case, the form is full of inaccuracies, then you should follow the advice given in this post:

Best of luck and please do let us know how things go.

Anonymous said...

By the way, when you appear in Magistrates' Court for TV-licensing cases, do you get a solicitor appointed to you or are you expected to defend yourself, or to arrange your own solicitor? Do you advise to try and hire a solicitor for such cases? I expect, it will cost more than a potential fine, but for some people, (e.g., immigrants) having a criminal record may be harmful.

Admin said...

No solicitor is appointed. You can't even ask for a word with the duty solicitor at the court anymore. The defendant would need to pay for their own solicitor, although we don't think it's always necessary. In our experience, having viewed a lot of these cases, the court clerk always explains the process very clearly to the defendant and the court listens carefully to anything the defendant has to say in mitigation (or defence if it goes to trial).

Anonymous said...

Hi guys
Great site.
I hope you appreciate The honesty which is that I will simply not pay for a tv licence
This simply because I don't need one and even if I did im not so sure I would pay anyway
1.the disgraceful way that bbc/Tvl.treat the majority with the ridiculous stance they take and they way they without shame harass the general public this alongside the shameless co-operation of the courts.
2,that the license fee versus price which is Deemed to match the actual output and quality on offer which in majority is substandard.
3.the absolute and deliberate pro Union bias in the Scottish independence referendum (Bbc a clue there )
4.river city ( ,,basically it's the bbc and its paltry justification off the fee by offering a Scottish version of eastenders )
5,Scotland's contribution is approxamtly 300 million with only around 170 million spent on programming in Scotland
6.gary linker and match of the day

Keep up the good work..

Unknown said...

I have a sky digi box and a satellite receiver built in freeview tv and cd player have just received letter addressed to the occupier that the property is not licensed as I don't watch live tv on the receiver (I watch live tv on my tablet)do I need a license
if I watch bbc iplayer am I in need of a license?

Admin said...

Hello Anthony.
- If you are receiving TV programmes on any device (e.g. your tablet), then your property should be covered by a valid TV licence.
- If you used a Sky/Freeview box solely as a mode for listening to the radio, then you do not technically require a TV licence. Anyone in this position would probably struggle to convince TV Licensing that they never received TV programmes.
- If you only watch non-live catch-up programmes, then you do not need a TV licence.

Badger said...

So pleased & relieved to have found your site. I'm now reassured that my original disgust of TV Licensing practise against those who choose not to own a TV or watch live broadcasts, has been justified.
Also, that there is a lively blog supporting we harassed individuals who are made to feel like criminals!

I am 67 and have never owned a TV and I don't watch live broadcasts. For countless years I have wearily objected to the affrontery of TVL expecting me to repeatedly explain why I don't need a licence. ALL their letters have been accusational and implied I have been trying to hide information and that I am guilty of some sort of deceitful activity! Therefore, I adopted a bloody-minded attitude from the beginning and decided to ignore the b------s. The latest spat has lasted five months when, after twelve increasingly threatening letters, I received the 'What to expect in court' bollocks on the reverse of which I see the misleading subterfuge goes on...." Remember; even if you do not own a TV, under the Communications Act 2003, you still need to be covered by a licence if you watch or record TV on any device...." Once again, they conveniently omit the proviso, only if you watch LIVE broadcasts or watch programmes as they are being shown !!
As I've had no visit to check my property for offending 'receiving apparatus', I guess my 'summons' appears to be for a refusal to reply to their letters. That will really stand up in court!

Even though the TVL are such pathetic muppets, I wonder how many misled folk are worried by these bully-boy tactics and are frightened into needlessly buying a licence?
This scare mongering is, I would have thought, verging on the illegal and must surely be considered as intimidation?!

Many thanks for your forum and keep up the good work of exposing the nasty tactics of TVL !!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Admin said...

Hello Tomas and thanks for leaving a comment.
I'm afraid he could try for a prosecution based on what you've said. The incriminating comments are "on standby" and "aerial plugged in". From what you've said that's not true, because the equipment was still boxed up.
He has contradicted himself by circling "no channels seen/heard" and "hasn't been used yet", so if they do try to prosecute it would be open to challenge quite easily.
My advice would be to write down everything that happened whilst you remember it. Sign and date it, get someone else to witness it as well. Keep it safe alongside the TVL178 in case you do get a summons in 5 months time.
I really hope you didn't sign the form confirming that it was "on standby" and "aerial plugged in".
If you'd like to discuss this further, please email us: tvlicensingblog (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...


i hope you can help me. Me and my husband were living in North London from feb 2014 to feb 2015. In one of the emails from our former landlord states that tv licence is included in the rent. Our landlord even sent us a screenshot of the payment he made online for tv licence. Until one day in dec 2014, goon came and interviewed my husband. On the form the goon wrote what my husband told, 'My landlord deals with it'. Then signed. Then we moved to Central London, paying our bills promptly including tv licence until Nov 21, we received a letter from Marston collecting money. He then called Marston and told them that this is the first time he received a notice. He was then told to talk to the Court in Central London where he has been advised to on Monday.

Now my question is, since my husband is not guilty of not paying tv licence since it was clearly stated on the email from the landlord that it us included in the rent, how big us his chance to get rid off this case? He can show this letter as a proof.
also the TVL form states that the goon did not enter to our property, but how come he encircled that we are watching tv though we weren't watching.
Another thing, this was the first letter he received regarding this so can he use the statutory declaration form?
lastly, will he get fired from his job because of this offence that he is not guilty of?

thank you and looking forward on your reply.

Admin said...

Hello Anon and thanks for your message.

There are two distinct points here that needed addressing:
(a) The fact that you were caught without a valid TV licence.
(b) The fact you were totally unaware that court action had been taken against you.

Addressing each of those points in turn:
(a) Unfortunately, the way the law views matters, you were the responsible adult present in the property at the time the offence was committed. This means you are liable for the offence, irrespective of the fact your landlord had said he was going to deal with it.
Let me give you an analogy - if I hop into a car and start driving because I've been told by my wife that she's sorted the insurance, and I get stopped by the police because I am not actually insured, then I am still guilty of the offence.
Of course the court would view the fact you'd been shafted by your landlord sympathetically, but if you received TV programmes without a valid TV licence then you would still technically be guilty.
It sounds like your landlord has failed to abide the terms of the tenancy agreement, so you could seek damages via the civil courts.
(b) If you were genuinely unaware of being subject to court action, then you should contact the court and make a Statutory Declaration. This involves making a sworn statement to the effect that you knew nothing about it. Having made this declaration the court should set aside your conviction and any penalty imposed. They would also notify TV Licensing, which might then (depending on time limits) have the option of restarting the prosecution process.

I hope that information helps.

Becca said...

Hi Admin,

Thanks for a great and really informative site helping to relieve some of the stress TVL cause. I hope you can give me some advice too.

On the 10th June an officer came to our address. I stated that I was pretty sure we had a valid licence and wanted to show the officer. He said not to worry, he would check on his tablet. He said it was all okay but he recorded ‘No’ on his TVL178 form. I was very unhappy and uncomfortable with how the interview was conducted and felt harassed and intimidated into signing the document even though I did not agree with the recorded information. I am really regretting this now - big lesson to learn - but I thought it wouldn’t amount to much as we had a valid license. I immediately checked my files for our licence and emailed a complaint to TV Licensing regarding the Visiting Officer and the incorrect information recorded. I stated that I had a valid TV licence due for renewal on 30th June and was therefore covered. I received a response to my complaint from Customer Relations apologising and stating they could see my TV licence was due to expire at the end of June (which I paid on time).

I then received a letter in the mail from TV Licensing stating as we were without a valid TV licence legal action may be taken. I emailed a second stronger complaint to TV Licensing regarding the letter and received a response again apologising and reassuring me that I hold a valid TV licence at my address and that my address was covered at the time of the Visiting Officer’s interview. They stated that my comments would be forwarded on to the department that sent the letter.

On the 4th November I received a summons stating I committed the offence of using a colour TV on 10th June 2015 without a TV licence. On the 10th of November I sent formal complaints to TV Licensing’s Operations Director and to the BBC Head of Revenue Management but have yet to hear anything from anyone. I have responded to the Summons with a not guilty plea (I don’t want to make things worse by ignoring this) and I included a supporting letter and copies of my proof of TV Licence purchase for the period in question and correspondence with TVL. The hearing is set for 30th November.

To make things worse I am heavily pregnant and finding this all very stressful. It just should never have escalated this far. Other than signing the TVL form without truly understanding the implications, this seems like a straight forward case. The majority of the evidence is surely in my favour. I just want the case to be dropped before I have to attend court (I understand I don’t have to attend the hearing on the 30th as I pleaded not guilty, but if things go ahead I will be given a date to attend). I had wondered whether I should call the prosecutor but don’t want to negatively impact my case.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.

Admin said...

Hello Becca and thanks for your message. It is a crying shame that TV Licensing is making your life difficult in what should a happy time waiting the birth of your little one.

TV Licensing is an utterly deplorable organisation - its hapless incompetence virtually defies belief. Even so, it's a bit unusual that TVL is still pursuing your case to court when you have proven your licensed status at the time of their visit. Are you sure that the licence you hold is actually a licence for the property where you were "caught" by the goon? What I mean is, is the address displayed on your licence the absolutely correct address of that property? If there is any discrepancy between the address on your licence and the true address of your property, then that could explain why TV Licensing still believes the property was unlicensed. Sorry to say that if the address on the licence is inaccurate, then technically you weren't actually covered by a TV licence at all. Even so, TV Licensing's prosecution team would probably abandon the case if it was a genuine error.

In your situation I would try to get in touch with TV Licensing's prosecution team in Darwen. Explain the situation again and see if they'll reconsider. If you've physical evidence of a TV licence, bearing the correct address, that expires at the end of June, then you can't possibly be guilty of committing an offence on 10th June. TV Licensing would be stupid to pursue matters in that situation.

If they refuse to budge then do be prepared to go to court. If you explain your circumstances to the court, then it should be prepared to grant an adjournment until you've given birth.

Hope this makes some sense and all turns out well. Please do keep us in the loop.

Becca said...

Hi Admin,

Thanks for your quick reply. Actually you are not the first to suggest an address issue and in fact we do live in a converted flat with common entrance. For that reason I am always careful to state First Floor Flat on all our postage and utilities etc. I just checked and the licence has the correct address. However, examining the TVL178 form again the goon didn’t write First Floor Flat, only the street address. The plot thickens…

I will try contacting the prosecution team (a bit nervous about this). Will they actually listen!? I am just astounded that they don’t check their records properly and my complaints, which TVL responses clearly acknowledged that there was a valid licence, have made no difference. But I guess if they get their money/commissions why would they care? Such a waist of judicial time too. This whole process has really been an eye opener. I had no idea how devious and evil the TVL are. The punishment so outweighs the crime! Outrageous.

Thank you for your kind support. I’ll let you know the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Hi Admin

I have received a summons to court for apparently not paying for my tv licence for one day ...i explained to the goon who came to my door that i did have a sky package but my tv had a big hole in it from a wi accident!! he asked me for some details as to which i gave him my info and told him i would be acquring a new tv in the near future and to which he made me fill out for a tv licence card and then he left.

Now down the line i have received these summons with a copy of what he wrote on his sheet and has nothing what i said on there plus the signature of where my name should have been isnt even my signature ....what should i do??? a quick reply would be greatfully appreciated as ive been summoned for the 9th of december thankyou.

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