BBC Pirate
The BBC Pirates
Avast ye scurvy dogs! Ye can watch any channel ye like, so long as ye pay us first.

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TV licensing history





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Do Not Pass Go

The TV licence has existed for nearly 90 years and this goes some way to explain why it is seemingly tolerated. Licence fee collection is outsourced, administered by more than 2000 staff. “Enforcement Officer” are sent out to investigate and interview all those without a valid licence. Payment collectors are known for their bullish approach, often seeking entry into an household to determine if there is illegal television reception. If entry to a household is blocked and there are reasonable grounds of said offence, an applications for a search warrant is made. Bonuses are paid for catching licence evaders which has lead in several cases of forged confessions. There is also the issue of entrapment, where letters are sent “signed for” in order to obtain people’s names and signatures.

Beyond this, information is captured and cross referenced from various sources, some of these include:

  • Customer names and addresses are passed from retailers for every appliance sold with a built-in television tuner. This includes the sales of computers and mobile phones where appropriate.

  • Access to government records such as the Criminal Records Bureau and Department of Work and Pensions.

  • Regular updates of the Postal Address File from the Post Office.

Not buying a licence leads to many letters which, under any other circumstance, would be construed as harassment. They can not be avoided as letters are typically marked with a mix of surname and / or “The Occupier”; a convenient method of circumventing rules of the Mail Preference Service. This also leads to many personal visits to your home until you prove your innocence, despite this being a matter of criminal law. If you continue to live without television, even if you have proved your innocence, they will usually be back within six months (officially two years).

The companies that administer TV licensing have access to the DVLA database (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). Various scenarios have been tabled such as wheel-clamping television licence dodgers.

Copyright © 2011 - 2016 Mark Ford