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February 5, 2011 / davebirss

Saying goodbye to my Licence fee

I got a red letter in the post today. It was a demand for me to pay £145.50 to the UK TV Licensing authority. I’ve always been a license payer. Admittedly, I was usually late in paying it, but I paid it nonetheless. As a former BBC radio broadcaster I felt it was hypocritical not to.

But this year I’m not paying. And I’m pretty excited about it.

You see, the license is for people who “watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV” – and it’s this last bit that isn’t done in my home. Neither I nor my girlfriend nor my daughter watch TV as it is being aired. Yes, we watch television. We consume a lot of content on the iPlayer, rent TV series on DVD and use other online methods of watching programmes – but that’s not what the license is for.

And that kind of baffles me.

I’ve admitted that we consume a lot of BBC content but the license states that we’re not liable to pay for it. And I’m sure there’s an increasing number of people like me in the country. Is this another situation where the system is lagging behind behaviour change? Am I just a strange freak who is out of line with the rest of the world?

Whatever the reason, I’m happy. In fact, I’m £145.50 happier than I was yesterday. So I’m going to treat myself by watching something on the iPlayer.

For free.


Leave a Comment
  1. Yasmin Selena Butt / Feb 5 2011 9:16 am

    : ) Your post tickles me, as my best friend Steve took this route about five years ago. He’s had friendly cups of tea with the TV guys who visit who don’t understand why he doesn’t have a licence, who leave bemused and perplexed.. He’s collected the red letters have no contingency for people like him who own a huge TV but don’t have an aerial plugged in anywhere. And it’s freed up a lot more time in his life, the TV he owns comes preloaded with iplayer, you tube and a load of stuff. Tis plenty for Mr Brown along with his DVD collection.

    I think Internet content will become moderated like premium content of the broadsheets in the future to be honest as more and more twig the lesser need for the licence…

  2. Charles Frith / Feb 5 2011 12:56 pm

    I don’t possess a TV and my attempts with iplayer abroad have been fruitless so my question is does the BBC produce better quality?

  3. TV Licensing Blog / Feb 5 2011 1:39 pm

    Good luck, but you’re probably in for a rough ride.

    The simpleton mentality of your former Beeb bosses, acting as the Licensing Authority, is that no-one can exist without receiving live TV signals. They assume all non-payers, however genuine, are licence-fee evaders. Consequently they target them with intimidatory and accusatory mailings, doorstep visits and even unsolicited telephone calls.

    Your usage sounds perfectly legal to me, but they can make even the most innocent of set-ups incriminating. Capita, who enforce the licence fee on the Beeb’s behalf, operate an incentive scheme where their Visiting Officers receive bonuses for scaring people into buying licences, whether or not they need them.

    I suggest you read my blog carefully to see what lies ahead and to prepare yourself for their next action.

  4. Melanie Seasons / Feb 7 2011 9:36 am

    We thought about not paying our license because we don’t really watch live TV either, but after much debate, we forked over the £145 because we still like what it stands for (and the radio is always on in the kitchen!). Perhaps it’s a bit silly, but splitting it with my flatmates 3 ways, I was ok with it!

  5. DonkeyCum / Feb 12 2011 8:36 am

    The point of real liberation is to get rid of the TV all together and take a step to switching off La Société du Spectacle.

  6. Victoria / Feb 15 2011 1:35 pm

    I got one of those little red letters too. I don’t own a TV (mainly because I think they are eyesores, even the flat screen ones) Receiving threats only makes me more pleased *not* to pay them for a service I don’t receive. Like you, I only watch digital programming when I want to, not when the networks decide to air a show. There are more of us on-demand viewers in the UK than TVL would like to think. I get news and entertainment on my terms *and* it’s for free.

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