IS THE UK's TV LICENSING AGENCY JUST PLAIN EVIL?
The United Kingdom is rather unique in having a compulsory television license requirement for every adult with TV receiving equipment. This is to fund the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) whether this is watched or not. The TV Licensing Agency is tasked to collect the fee, but as Datalite UK Ltd discovered they assume that every business has a TV, and effectively treats does that don't as criminals!
Some organisations are inefficient, some are over bureaucratic, but in the United Kingdom the TV Licensing is concluded to be just plain evil. As this article highlights, this agency assumes every address is using a television and if their records shows there is no TV harasses potentially innocent persons to the point of using language that treats them as criminals without checking their facts first. This article shows a solution for dealing with this.
Any business in the United Kingdom starting up or changing premises will be aware of the potentially hostile environment forced to operate from. The various government diktats compliance requirements (including Health & Safety, Equality & Diversity, HM Revenue & Customs etc.) are bad enough; but some private companies also provide plenty of potential grief.
Previous articles by Datalite UK Ltd have recorded adverse experiences with British Gas and British Telecom. British Gas was a rather comical experience of being aggressively chased to pay a gas bill when the business never had a gas supply; British Telecom was a saga of poor customer service. However, TV Licensing are just plain evil. As this article discusses, TV Licensing aggressively chase innocent persons and businesses, misrepresenting the law and displaying behaviour that can be described as criminal harassment.
For the benefit of overseas readers, the television viewing position is rather unique in the United Kingdom. Every person/household who uses a television is required by law to purchase a TV License. This is to fund the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the origins to this license are steeped in history. There is an argument that such a system can fund broadcasting of quality programs that would not necessarily be catered using a commercial model. The snag is that nowadays there is an abundance of quality commercial programming choices – but a non BBC viewer still needs to pay a license. A further problem is that it can be argued that the BBC has evolved into a distinctly left wing politically bias; anti military, politically correct, pro Climate Change. It advertises most of its posts in the left wing newspaper ‘The Guardian’ and even a recent BBC controller’s admitted the corporation is too left wing.
However, all this is irrelevant to Datalite. Operating from business premises there is no television on site, staff work to serve customers not watch television!
Datalite moved into retail shop premises (Datalite, 89-90 High Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 2SZ) in early 2009; by Spring TV Licencing were inundating the company with various ‘official warnings’. The tone of these was an absolute disgrace. The warnings contain wordings saying that there will be a full investigation of the address. Mentioning it is criminal offence to watch TV without a license, also threatening a hefty fine and court appearance, and that a statement will be taken in compliance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). Information supplied to this atrocious agency that Datalite were in fact not using any television receiving equipment appeared unable to circumvent the numerous ‘official warnings’ that the premises were unlicensed.
In fact one of their later reminders was worded ‘you are hereby notified that we have authorised officers from our Enforcement Division to visit your premises and interview you under caution’! Talk about being presumed guilty before the fact, and of course this is absolutely disgraceful and deceptive conduct, akin to unauthorised impersonation of police officials and procedures to harass and threaten individuals without a shred of proof of guilt for any offence. One can only imagine the distress receipt of such nonsense could cause to vulnerable and sensitive people.
However, the only one breaking any laws was in fact TV Licensing. In the author’s firm view TV Licensing acts unlawfully by misrepresenting the de facto legal position and consequently harassing individuals and organisations without establishing whether or not they use a television, by their continual unjustified ‘official warnings. This in a way is good news, as they are so clearly falling foul of the law, this means they are quite easy to deal with a carefully worded letter such as the one presented below.
Anyone reading this that has similarly been harassed by TV Licensing and are not using TV receiving equipment is free to use the following words as a suggested letter. These are aimed for business use, but may be adapted for a home case. The author therefore relaxes copyright for use of the letter format below.
SAMPLE LETTER TO TV LICENSING:
I refer to your letter XXXXXX
dated XXX. I have no TV at my business address, and neither are live TV
broadcasts received. I have no need of a TV licence as the premises is my
business shop, and am not breaking the law, and yet I have received continual
letters and threats from your company. Furthermore it is noted that these
letters appear to deliberately misrepresent the de facto legal position.
Unfortunately you seem to accept only two categories of people - TV licence payers or TV licence dodgers. It is not illegal for a business not to use or own a TV. Receiving continual threats by letter, threats of visits, and actual visits quite clearly constitutes harassment. Whilst I am sympathetic to your position of desiring to ensure that all TV owners are licensed, your company's own agenda give you no right either legally or morally to harass my staff, me, or my business.
Your visiting officers will not call at my business address. This letter denotes prior written and legal warning that any such visit will constitute trespass and harassment. Normally there is an assumed right of entry to the front door(s) of a property. However this is denied to your employees, since any such act will evidently constitute harassment since prior warning has been given.
Your company will not send me any threatening letters or any other correspondence; you will not visit my property, neither will you visit my home (for which I already have a TV licence). You may, of course, reply to this letter. Although I have nothing to hide, I resent your intrusion and harassment into my life.
I suggest that you use one of your detector vans which you claim can easily detect TV use. This will furnish you with the proof of my innocence that you seem to desire without your company resorting to the illegal and immoral principle of continual harassment to my business, staff, and myself.
You have now been informed that any such visit or usual threatening letter, or threats of visits, constitute harassment. You will immediately cease. You may, of course, reply to this letter. You will kindly acknowledge in your reply that you have noted/understood the contents of this letter.
Since I have already informed you that I have no legal requirement for a TV licence for my business shop, then sending round one of your 'enforcers' evidently serves no other purpose than to intimidate and harass innocent persons.
Please be aware that if you decide to disregard this letter, and continue to harass me, my staff, or waste anymore time for my business I will instigate legal action and possible criminal proceedings against your company.
END OF LETTER FORMAT
There is little legally TV Licensing can do about such a stance other than comply, which in Datalite’s case was confirmed by letter. They did try and ‘reserve the right to send reminders in the future, which in a follow up letter from Datalite was highlighted will be deemed to be harassment. Nevertheless in over a year the company has had no further correspondence from TV Licensing - problem solved!