Thursday, 1 October 2009

TV Licence Warning

I have always though that, notwithstanding the fact that it's compulsory, compared with a Sky or Cable TV subscription the BBC Licence Fee is grea value for money. But now they are taking the piss.

I recently had a letter from them at my place of work. One of those "we notice you don't have a licence, tell us why not" type letters. I didn't even bother reading it properly, just returned it stating none was required - after all there is no tv on the premises.  After sending the reply I re-read the letter, it would appear that anyone with a laptop or pc with an internet connection now requires a licence as the BBC has now made it's content available live online. At home your existing licence would cover it, but apparently not at work.

How can this be fair? Both my laptop and PC at work are several years old and at the time they were purchased would have had to have used a separate TV tuner to show any programmes. Why should I now have to pay a licence fee just because the BBC have  chosen to make some of their content available online? No-one asked me if I wished to make use of such a service. Surely it is not beyond the realms of their technical wizards to come up with a sign in system where you enter the serial number of your current licence as a password before their content can be viewed.

An acquaintance told me that he had a similar letter at a restaurant he ran, coincidentally  within days of watching a live soccer match via his mobile (don't ask me how that works, I've no idea). It could of course have been a customers mobile that was being used without his knowledge but that didn't deter them from their enquiries. In that case it was conceded that the mobile was a battery operated device covered by his home licence. I don't ever recall watching any live BBC at work, (I-Player yes) possibly PMQs once or twice but no idea if that comes under the BBC banner or not. if it does, maybe that triggers off their investigation

Despite me returning the letter stating I don't need one, I received a reply which includes the following - "We'd therefore appreciate your help when one of our TV Licensing Officers  visits you shortly."  Almost sinister and threatening in it's tone.  I can't help but read it  in a "Ve haft vays ov making you talk" voice.

It seems that just as Channel Four decides to drop Big Brother, he is now alive and well and residing a the BBC.

(Hopefully this post can't be traced to my address, otherwise this could be the last you ever hear from me )


  1. Er, I think you'll find that it's the TV Licencing Agency that you have a problem with - not the BBC.

    The BBC get the money from the licence fee, but they are not responsible for collecting it.

    I agree that demanding a licence for computer is ridiculous - but I really don't think it would ever go to court. Oh, and if it's a laptop then just unplug it... it's now a battery-powered device, and is therefore covered by your home licence.

  2. Ok, seems "TV Licensing" are a little closer to the BBC than I thought.

    Interestingly, the FAQ section clearly states that if you watch *live* broadcasts online, then you do need a licence - but if you only watch content *after* it's been broadcast (and this includes watching last night's TV on BBC iPlayer) then you do not need a licence.

  3. Trouble is, if you have a tv set but tell them it's only ever used to watch dvds or as a computer monitor you still need a licence as it can still receive programmes. The Q&A does state that you only need a licence for a computer if you watch live programmes. But how do you prove that you've never watched them online , what's to stop them using the same argument that it can still receive. And how car they impose a licence on something that didn't even have the ability to receive when it was purchased, and can only do so now due to changes that we made by the way the BBC distributes it's programmes.
    It's a bit like saying you need a fishing licence for walking along a riverbank minding your own business just in case a trout jumps out of the water and lands in your pocket*. Well, maybe not quite like that, but you get my gist.

    *Wurzel does not condone poaching.

  4. I always thought that it depended what hardware was in your PC. If it had a TV tuner card and the PC is capable of showing TV live, as it is broadcast, you need a licence.

    I do agree that the TV Licencing Authorities are Draconian though and the TV Licence too expensive...


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.