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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Government Minister: Decriminalisation of TV Licence Evasion Will Happen

A Government Minister has reportedly told the Sunday Express that decriminalisation of TV licence fee evasion will happen.

The move comes just a few days after the BBC confirmed it will renege on its charter agreement by removing the universal over-75 TV licence concession.

As the legislation currently stands, it is a criminal offence for a person to install or use a television receiver in a property without a valid TV licence. Additionally, from 1st September 2016, it is an offence to download or record BBC on-demand programmes in a property without a valid TV licence. The maximum penalty for the offence is £1,000 fine, but sentencing guidelines mean anyone convicted is rarely fined more than about £200.

The BBC relies heavily on the threat of criminal conviction to coerce people into paying the £157.50 annual fee, irrespective of their legal need to do so.

The Corporation estimates that it will lose £1 billion over five years if that threat is lifted from TV licence fee evaders.

During the Conservatives' general election campaign the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, spoke of his ambition to reshape the future funding and governance of the BBC.

"At this stage we are not planning to get rid of all licence fees, though I am certainly looking at it", the Prime Minister said.

"But you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense in the long term given the way other media organisations manage to fund themselves.

"The system of funding out of effectively a general tax bears reflection. How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels."

Barely a week into the job, the newly installed Government announced that a consultation would take place on decriminalising TV licence fee evasion. The consultation ran for eight weeks from the start of February. According to reports it received in excess of 100,000 responses - including our own, which we shall publish in a future article - demonstrating the strength of public opinion about the TV licence fee. The consultation closed on 1st April 2020 and its findings will be reported later this year.

At the start of June, two months after the closure of the consultation, Glasgow University history undergraduate James Yucel captured the public imagination by started his own campaign to decriminalise TV licence fee evasion, somewhat after the horse had already bolted.

Even so, the DefundTheBBC campaign has snowballed and attracted widespread support across several social and conventional media channels. It is doing a tremendous job of heightening the public's awareness of the political bias, corruption and profligacy of the BBC.

Andrea Jenkyns, Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, told the Sunday Express: "Arguably the single biggest threat to the BBC is not it going back on its word about the licence fee, but rather its own internal bias. The BBC is meant to be an impartial organisation, but despite this, even figures that we consider faces of the BBC acknowledge this is not the case.

"The BBC's handling of recent events has only served to reinforce this further. Who can remember a time where the majority of a question time panel voted to leave the EU, despite the majority of the British people voting to do so? Who can forget the openly biased attack launched by Emily Maitlis against the Government on Newsnight a few weeks ago?"

A BBC spokesperson said: "Decriminalisation of the licence fee could cost the BBC up to £1 billion over five years and have a big impact on programmes and services. The vast majority of people pay the licence fee voluntarily, but as a universal service we need an enforcement system with appropriate sanctions otherwise it is unfair to those who do pay. A detailed Government-commissioned review (the Perry Review of 2015) has already found the current system is the fairest and most effective."

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Maryon Jeane said...

"As the legislation currently stands, it is a criminal offence for a person to install or use a television receiver in a property without a valid TV licence"

This is incorrect!

TV Licensing's (Capital's/BBc's) own statement is:

"Section 363 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to install or use a television receiver to watch or record any television programmes as they're being shown on television without a TV Licence."

That is correct. You can install receiving equipment without having a licence; it's the use of that equipment for the purposes of either watching 'live' broadcasts (programmes broadcast approximately at the time they are happening) and/or watching 'catch up' programmes on the BBC iPlayer) which requires a licence.

Admin said...

Thanks for dropping by again Maryon Jeane.

We stand by the comment you quoted.

"Television receiver" is very strictly defined in law. A device is NOT a television receiver UNLESS it is used to watch or record television programmes as they are shown, so by referring to a "television receiver" we are referring to the situation of watching or recording television programmes without explicitly stating it.

Regulation 9(1) of the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 defines a television receiver as "any device installed or used for the purposes of receiving (whether by wireless telegraphy or otherwise:
(a) any television programme service; or
(b) an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC;
whether or not the apparatus is installed or used for any other purpose."

Admin said...

If you refer to section 363 you will see it makes no mention at all of "watch or record any television programmes as they're being shown on television". TV Licensing have added that bit on their website to make it easier for people to understand what a "television receiver" actually means.
All section 363 does say - as we did - is that a television receiver must not be installed or used unless its installation or use is authorised by a licence.