Threatening letters from TV Licensing

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  • edited 6 January 2021 at 6:23PM
    CornucopiaCornucopia Forumite
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    edited 6 January 2021 at 6:23PM
    From my POV the possibilities are split between those about the law/rights and those that are about a political choice over the future of the BBC (and public service broadcasting generally).

    Pursuit of either is legitimate, but the latter has a probable response that the BBC must remain publicly-funded for various practical and ideological reasons.   The former, though, has no defence for the BBC - the best it can say is that it enforces in questionable ways because it feels there is no alternative, and it is somehow dismissive and/or ignorant of legal principles in a way that is indefensible. 

    I like the idea of locking down iPlayer, though.  

    The elephant in the room is that I get the distinct impression that many MPs and other public figures are wary of the BBC, to such an extent that no one wants to be involved in questioning their enforcement processes or the questionable assumptions behind them.
    ex Board Guide

  • edited 7 January 2021 at 8:06PM
    CornucopiaCornucopia Forumite
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    edited 7 January 2021 at 8:06PM
    One of the weaknesses of the very fragmented objections and complaints about TVL that are seen in social media is that there is rarely a coherent explanation of the way things ought to be.   In that vein, here are my thoughts:-

    - Honesty and transparency in communications - all TVL communications directed at the Public or large anonymous subsets should be completely transparent.   That includes finding a suitable form of words to accurately and unambiguously describe the requirements for holding a TV Licence.  The use of the term "Live" is unhelpful, and I can't see any way in which it could be reformed to be clear rather than confusing.

    - A rational tone and frequency for TVL letters - differentiating properly between direct information that is relevant to specific, known individuals and the generality of mass communications.   There should be no threats and no subterfuge in general mass communications.   They can include a dispassionate statement of the legal requirement for a TV Licence.     If TVL choose to reference PACE, then a summary of PACE rights (or information about where to find them) should also be stated.

    - If TVL are able to form reasonable suspicion of an offence taking place (that is more than simply statistical observation), then it can begin more forthright communication with an individual and/or their household.   Even in that instance, there must be access to an accurate set of information about rights and communication should not contradict or undermine those rights.    Reasonable suspicion cannot be based solely on the legitimate non-compliance of a household.

    - There should never be any suggestion that citizens are under legal or official pressure to comply with TVL's wishes unless those wishes are explicitly backed by legislation (which is not presently the case).    There should be no use of vagueness, ambiguity, manipulative or theatrical language, or artificial process detail in order to encourage the Public to believe that they are required to co-operate when they are not.   If TVL wishes to describe co-operation in terms of helpfulness that is acceptable.

    - Cessation of elements of enforcement should not be contigent on the co-operation of the Public, nor should it be implied or stated that they are contigent.   The circumstances under which letters or visits will potentially happen should be clear, and should be set into the context of relevant rights.   If there is a valid legal option for public non-cooperation then this should be clearly made available.

    - Householders' doorsteps are not a suitable venue for formal Interview under Caution and TVL should make suitable arrangements to address this.   At the same time, it should ensure that interviewees have a reasonable ability to access their rights during interview, including having legal support if they require it.   The circumstances of TVL interviews must not be used to undermine interviewees' access to their rights by virtue of inconvenience or otherwise.

    - Paper forms are no longer a suitable Record of Interview.   They should be replaced as soon as possible with audio recording. 

    - It is no longer acceptable for TVL to conduct official business at/in citizens' homes without recourse to language support.   In the first instance, TVL operatives should be provided with multi-lingual flash cards so as to communicate more effectively with people for whom English is not their first language.

    - There should never be any suggestion or implication that the Public are required to prove their innocence - not for any reason, including the engineering of TVL's own processes to create such a requirement.
    ex Board Guide

  • edited 9 January 2021 at 5:12PM
    CornucopiaCornucopia Forumite
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    edited 9 January 2021 at 5:12PM
    To illustrate the above, the mass mailing from TV Licensing for January 2021 is shown below, and these are the issues with it:-

    - The title is a fake "computer code" designed to create a false impression of some kind of progress of the householder's possibly lawful unlicensed status.
    - It's probably not true that the "code" is used to target homes. 
    - There is no real sense that a visit from TV Licensing is "required".   It is merely something that they wish to do.
    - There are no county or town enforcement teams.   TVL Field Workers in England and Wales work in small mobile reporting groups. 
    - The use of the term "live TV programmes" is ambiguous, and the overall form of words is poorly written, losing necessary accuracy. 
    - "Enforcement Officers" have no special authority, and the term "officer" is meaningless in this context.  
    - TVL do not usually acquire physical evidence of evasion.  Instead they seek a confession statement in questionable circumstances.
    - If they interview you under caution, that brings a raft of rights, including legal advice, and the right to decline to be interviewed but these are not mentioned.
    - There is no obligation to give TV Licensing information about yourself or your household - not to "stop this visit" or otherwise.  They should not be trying to coerce information in this way.
    - There is no requirement to "act", "now" or otherwise if you are not breaking the law.





    ex Board Guide

  • Mickey666Mickey666 Forumite
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    It's an absolute disgrace!
    Imagine the outcry if the police sent out letters like this to addresses where there no records of an occupier having a gun licence!
  • CornucopiaCornucopia Forumite
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    It was a "good" letter to break down because a lot of the basic issues are there in black and white, and blue.

    It's sad that a once great institution has stooped this low to harass the Public over a basic, legitimate right not to have a TV Licence if one isn't required. 
    ex Board Guide

  • happybaggerhappybagger Forumite
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    Not had a license at my address for 20 years, with the biased coverage on BBC news of coronavirus when I've visited my parents I'm glad I don't contribute, but just to say that the cycle of about 10 different threatograms starts again every four months or so. Quite funny really.

    Once had a delivery guy knock the door, hand over a letter "this is for you", addressed the occupier, and leave.

    It was another "we're watching you" letter.

    Hilarious. Last time I had a TV, we hadn't even had the digital switchover!
  • NewnoelNewnoel Forumite
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    One of my main concerns with the TV tax is that it is used solely to fund the BBC. In some other countries, a portion is used to support public service broadcasting in media other than just the main state TV provider.

    The TV tax has helped kill off local media outlets by funding dominant BBC regional stations.

    Time to axe the tax
  • freefrom_2freefrom_2 Forumite
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    tesuhoha said:
    My husband and I stopped watching TV a long time ago as we found it very biased and there was nothing either of us wanted to watch. We decided to cancel our TV license after we realised it was about 6 months since we put the TV on. We both have laptops and neither of us watch any live TV. I watch series and films sometimes on Netflix and Amazon Prime which I pay for. We read books, use the internet etc.

    We cancelled our Virgin TV box to save money and I decided to go through the proper channels to cancel the licence. I filled out the NoTV form as we didn't want any trouble from TV Licensing. I received an email from them thanking me for confirming we don't need a licence and a couple of months later I received a refund from them.

    Since then we have received a series of threatening letters from TV Licensing each one more unpleasant than the last and we have also had a visit from an enforcement officer. I was out at the time but my husband just said to him that we didn't need a licence and shut the door. We have just had another letter from them threatening another visit and a £1,000 fine. Its as if I hadn't filled out the NoTV form at all and in fact the letter suggests that I do that if I don't need a license but what is the point of doing it again. I was so put out that I checked the email to make sure that I had informed them, which I found to be correct. It also says not to ignore the letter as it won't go away, which I find infuriating as I dealt with it properly from the start.

    My husband has said not to get into any kind of discussion with these people as they try to trick you but we are both 70 and law abiding and as the license was in my name its me they are threatening with a fine. I can really do without this. I have paid for the licence for 50 years but if there is nothing we want to watch anymore surely we have the right to cancel it without having to endure threats and people turning up at our house unannounced. I'm not sure if or who I should contact about this as I still have the email as proof I cancelled. Any advice would be much appreciated.
    tesuhoha said:
    My husband and I stopped watching TV a long time ago as we found it very biased and there was nothing either of us wanted to watch. We decided to cancel our TV license after we realised it was about 6 months since we put the TV on. We both have laptops and neither of us watch any live TV. I watch series and films sometimes on Netflix and Amazon Prime which I pay for. We read books, use the internet etc.

    We cancelled our Virgin TV box to save money and I decided to go through the proper channels to cancel the licence. I filled out the NoTV form as we didn't want any trouble from TV Licensing. I received an email from them thanking me for confirming we don't need a licence and a couple of months later I received a refund from them.

    Since then we have received a series of threatening letters from TV Licensing each one more unpleasant than the last and we have also had a visit from an enforcement officer. I was out at the time but my husband just said to him that we didn't need a licence and shut the door. We have just had another letter from them threatening another visit and a £1,000 fine. Its as if I hadn't filled out the NoTV form at all and in fact the letter suggests that I do that if I don't need a license but what is the point of doing it again. I was so put out that I checked the email to make sure that I had informed them, which I found to be correct. It also says not to ignore the letter as it won't go away, which I find infuriating as I dealt with it properly from the start.

    My husband has said not to get into any kind of discussion with these people as they try to trick you but we are both 70 and law abiding and as the license was in my name its me they are threatening with a fine. I can really do without this. I have paid for the licence for 50 years but if there is nothing we want to watch anymore surely we have the right to cancel it without having to endure threats and people turning up at our house unannounced. I'm not sure if or who I should contact about this as I still have the email as proof I cancelled. Any advice would be much appreciated.
    tesuhoha said:
    My husband and I stopped watching TV a long time ago as we found it very biased and there was nothing either of us wanted to watch. We decided to cancel our TV license after we realised it was about 6 months since we put the TV on. We both have laptops and neither of us watch any live TV. I watch series and films sometimes on Netflix and Amazon Prime which I pay for. We read books, use the internet etc.

    We cancelled our Virgin TV box to save money and I decided to go through the proper channels to cancel the licence. I filled out the NoTV form as we didn't want any trouble from TV Licensing. I received an email from them thanking me for confirming we don't need a licence and a couple of months later I received a refund from them.

    Since then we have received a series of threatening letters from TV Licensing each one more unpleasant than the last and we have also had a visit from an enforcement officer. I was out at the time but my husband just said to him that we didn't need a licence and shut the door. We have just had another letter from them threatening another visit and a £1,000 fine. Its as if I hadn't filled out the NoTV form at all and in fact the letter suggests that I do that if I don't need a license but what is the point of doing it again. I was so put out that I checked the email to make sure that I had informed them, which I found to be correct. It also says not to ignore the letter as it won't go away, which I find infuriating as I dealt with it properly from the start.

    My husband has said not to get into any kind of discussion with these people as they try to trick you but we are both 70 and law abiding and as the license was in my name its me they are threatening with a fine. I can really do without this. I have paid for the licence for 50 years but if there is nothing we want to watch anymore surely we have the right to cancel it without having to endure threats and people turning up at our house unannounced. I'm not sure if or who I should contact about this as I still have the email as proof I cancelled. Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Its so sad that we now believe that we are born into bondage to specific companies.  WE DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN ANYTHING to say we do not want to by a product from a company.  The power the BBC presume to have is outstanding, they think they are the law and intimidate us for NOT purchasing their services of ENTERTAINMENT.   Imagine if the local window cleaner requested a letter every year to NOT wash your windows and if you did not sign the form then he would clean your windows and charge you for it, then take you to court for using his services as you did not opt out.  like it is his right to charge you unless you OPT OUT of your legal obligation to pay by default of birth.   LUDICROUS. 
  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    Now and again the letters I get actually say that they have scheduled a visit to my address.  Never seen them turn up though.  I wonder if there is a way to find out if they actually have scheduled a visit or tell them off for lying.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
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