Coming from a country haunted for decades by its totalitarian past, and being born at dawn on May 1st 1945, only a few hours after Hitler killed himself with a shot in his mouth, I have always had qualms with people telling me that Britain has become a police state. Even more so because I was so grateful for the sacrifice the British people made for my freedom, and because I eventually emigrated to this country.
However, having experienced what happens if you cut yourself off from the number one state propaganda outlet, you get the impression those people are right. I dared to cancel my TV Licence in March this year because I was so bored, and because I get all I want from the internet anyway.
Since then I keep getting scary letters from the TV Licensing Enforcement Division. Each of these letters assumes that I keep watching TV – they just don’t get it that there are people out there who think the value for money offered by the license fee is poor. Importantly, the letter indicates that equipment liable to pay the licence fee includes computers and mobile phones. Under the headline “Official Warning", suggestive of state action, the letter I received today went on:
Our Enforcement Officers have now been authorized to visit your address in Gloucester Place. This is because we have no record of a TV Licence at Your address and you haven’t responded to previous letters.
Indeed, I took the liberty not to bother with their previous letters and threw them away. The question emerges here: Does the state monopoly of the BBC really encompass all digital information gadgets such as mobile phones, blackberries and laptops? Thinking it through, surely that would mean they would be entitled to collect the licence fee worldwide from anyone who watches BBC broadcasts anywhere?