The TV licensing stasi


There's a new billboard at the end of my road from the TV Licensing people. Printed over an aerial picture of the city are the words, "LONDON IS IN OUR DATABASE. EVADERS WILL PAY." My immediate reaction is not publishable on a family website. Just who the hell do these people think they are?

Of course, the complete illegitimacy of the licence fee itself makes the TV licensing authority's Gestapo tactics even harder to stomach. Personally, I can't see any justification for taxpayer-financed 'public service broadcasting' in an internet age, when people have vast amounts of media and information available to them at the click of a mouse. And even if I could, I'd have to say the BBC has long since ceased to provide it. Eastenders? Strictly Come Dancing? People may like this trash, sure, but we shouldn’t all be forced to foot the bill.

Anyway, via, here's some handy advice for people dealing with the BBC's stormtroopers:

People who work for TVL/BBC have no more right to enter private residences than people selling dusters.

Without entry, TVL/BBC have no sure means of knowing whether a house has equipment set up to receive broadcasts. That is why they rely on mass mailshots, declaring messages such as, "This is your final warning". They rely on householders' own reaction to these letters, and on self-incrimination during street visits. Without YOUR co-operation, TVL/BBC is impotent.

What about search warrants? Before a search warrant can be issued, TVL/BBC must satisfy the court that they have "reasonable grounds" for believing that broadcasts are being received at the unlicenced address. The simple absence of a licence does not constitute this, nor does the householder's refusal to communicate with TVL/BBC. To obtain a search warrant, TVL/BBC must offer the court positive evidence, such as seeing or hearing a television, or the householder's own admission. Without such evidence, TVL/BBC cannot apply for a search warrant, and without a search warrant, they cannot enter. So, they are back to square one.