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back to article Small biz told to sort TV licences for PCs

UK businesses are being warned that they need a TV licence if staff watch live TV broadcasts whether they do so on a TV or via their computers. TV Licensing is reminding firms that they need a licence if machines are plugged in - someone watching live broadcasts via a mobile or laptop is covered by their own home licence as long …

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IT Angle

BBC are saying...

BBC are saying:

"Employers who state they do not need a licence could be inspected without warning at any time"

BBC conveniently forget to say that TV licensing don't have a right of access without a warrant.

Back in uni days our hall warden told us all the staff new to refuse access to TV licensing, thereby giving us a few hours to stash the telly in the room of someone who did have a license, if indeed TV Licensing did come back with a warrant.

In the one event TV licensing appeared on campus, no warrant was forthcoming.

I'm not sure of all the facts but this is what the warded told us. Assuming it's legally correct, anyone feel like a Freedom of Information Act request to TV Licensing?

1.) How many warrants to access premises were applied for and

2.) How many were granted?

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

Just more evidence on how ridiculous this TV licence things is.

Seems to me the case that a national station is an asset isn't difficult to make so it is right it should exist. Almost everyone watches TV at some time of the year so one could save a lot of expense, and stop hassling folk & companies, by simply funding it out of general taxation. For those who never watch, their contribution will be small, and we all pay taxes for things we don't personally use, for the benefit of society anyway.

Agree a financial algorithm to work out what the ring-fenced budget should be, and just do it. But of course that is too obvious and sensible. Can't have that.

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Stop

Buffer

Doesn't the buffer on most players mean that the "live" news feeds are not actually live (i.e. not technically viewing a broadcast) but a few milliseconds old ? Is it possible to increase the buffer to say 10 seconds at an Enterprise level ? No TV licence required then...

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"required by law to inform the authority of the address of anyone buying or renting a telly."

Yes, but they don't care whether it's the correct address down at Comet or Currys.

This is why I keep getting license fee demands for someone who does not live, and never has, in my house.

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FAIL

... and we thought

they just matched a UK household database with their payment database.

Oh really...

I've got a TV licence, have done since I moved to current address 2 1/2 years ago. Every couple of months I get another 'Final Demand' style letter from the BBC. Yet no-one's come knocking on my door! I'm tempted not to renew the licence next time round.

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Big Brother

Never seen a detector van in real life

I ditched my Sky box and TV license almost two years ago and have yet to have a visitation by these fabled enforcers. Do they really exist?

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Grenade

Super Secrecy - not

Not one person has, as far as I am aware, ever been prosecuted using evidence from a detector van, nor has a search warrant been served on the basis of such evidence. If they had then the defence would be able to ask for details of how the technology works, and how that establishes proof. Just consider all the protests against wrongful conviction with speed cameras.

Of course the BBC refuses under the FOI act to give out details of the technology, the number of vans, the prosecution rate, or just about anything other than their own FUD.

I did however write to them telling them that I am withdrawing their implied right to access to my property (so they can't even come up the driveway) and to my surprise got a polite letter back from them for the first time ever.

Still, the sooner they remove the wretched licence and fund the beeb out of general taxation the better.

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Flame

TV licensing can suck my balls

Along with the PRS.

That is all.

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Flame

Riiiiggghhtt....

Ultra secret detector nonsense. My arse. Are the TV Licensing numpties really going to go to the effort of developing some super-secret technology, when a list of addresses from Royal Mail cross referenced with a list of addresses from their sinister database will equally well do the trick?

I don't think so.

I pay my TV tax once already thanks. I'll be buggered if I'm going to pay the tax to watch the same old rubbish somewhere other than my house. I can only watch one thing at a time -- why should I have to pay double/triple/whatever?

It always used to be that a license/tax was required for equipment 'capable of receiving a TV signal' (whether you actually had it hooked up or not was beside the point -- as long as it /could/ receive TV, you had to pay the tax). Has that now changed? What's their definition of a TV signal? My mobe is /capable/ of receiving TV (or so my operator keep telling me). Does that mean if I plug it in to charge it up at work, it suddenly becomes 'installed', and I have to pay the tax again?

How about the BBC stop paying Graham Norton such an obscene amount of money for the dross he turns out, and stop taxing the rest of us? Crazy, I know.

I'm fed up of being fiscally raped by the powers that be...

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Anonymous Coward

TV Licensing is waste of time

Why do they waste so much time and effort when Govt could simply add 0.000001% of whatever onto tax or NI and then do away with all of the TV licensing infrastructure ?. Surely it is simpler to have an all inclusive system for things such as TV Licensing, Car tax , Car Insurance and then save millions on the stacks of people needed to enforce those things individually ?. Could even allow those that dont have Cars, TV's etc to prove that they dont and then get set refund ?.

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Anonymous Coward

refusing access

I thought it was the law that they can gain access even if PC Plod has to wait outside.

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Thumb Up

Has TV Licensing been taking lesson from PRS

Of course if you visit the BBC Website which the whole world does you should pay your license fee.

'Its the way we are funded that makes us different'

No it because we produce quality programmes (mostly) and not the crap which ITV produce

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Anonymous Coward

Tempest certification

Read up on Tempest certification of equipment.

http://www.surasoft.com/articles/tempest.php

For the simplest signals, they can even see what your watching... stick to DVI over VGA and LCD over CRT and it's far more difficult.

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Alert

Detector Vans

Do Exist. but are useless for PC viewing! In fact the last set of six vans are probably too old to be on the road still!

however I do think that iPlayer should be account driven linked to the TV License and should work abroad and for foreign subscribers. however since TV licensing is a seperate institution to the BBC there are dataprotection issues between the BBC iplayer users and the TV licensing databases it'll probably never happen. which is STUPID!

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Anonymous Coward

re tempest certification

That won't help, it's not the RF flyback from the display that's used. That's all I can say, on pain of pain.

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Dont have tv but still treated like a crim

Got fed up of the letters so called them to tell them i have no tv.

"25% of people lie to us so you can understand that we wont just take your word for it, an enforcement officer will still come round".

Well since you refuse to make an appointment, and you call me a lier then you wont be coming in.

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Top Secret Technology - My Arse!

When I bought my house there was a lot of work to be done, and I didn't move in stright away. during the first two months I had three reminders about my TV licence, making all sorts of threats about what they would do if they discovered I had a telly.

TBH I just ignored them because I didn't have a telly in there. When I actually moved in I got my telly license the same day as a fourth threat came through the letter box.

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Bronze badge
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Isn't this an unfair trading practice?

By streaming live TV with no requirement for a login, the BBC have made any computer on the internet with suitable flash installed into a TV installation.

This means that technically, unless the end system specifically blocks live TV, it needs a TV license.

This is totally unfair. (Much the same as if a milkman decided to leave milk on all the doorsteps of a road without asking and demand payment.)

The BBC (and other channels too) should require authentication before they stream. This should be based on the TV license and and require a simple registration (ie to restrict that login to one ISP, to protect employers from liability).

It would make sense to use the same system to limit BBC catchup - perhaps treating the black and white license as a lite service (it would obviously not permit colour streaming) perhaps with a 5 hour weekly limit on downloads.)

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TVL = capita

Our TV died some years ago and we decided not to replace it - a see if we get more done without it sort of thing. Then the written threats and nasty phone calls started. We were going to get a new

TV but decided not to "Give in" to the intimidation. We have been without TV for nigh on 4 years now

and apart form the TVL threats we are doing without the crap quite niclely thank you.

Oh and as I pointed out to one local company who was paying 400UKP per year to TVL for company laptops that just happned to have TV tuners built in, *standalone* self powered devices do NOT need a licence. He contacted the BBC who apologised and told him his company did not need to pay the 400UKP per year to TVL - who still send his business threatening letters...

By the way you did not post up the pictures of the empty "TV detector" van someone thoughfully

parked in a local supermaket car park...

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@Buffer AC

> Is it possible to increase the buffer to say 10 seconds at an Enterprise level ? No TV licence required then...

Nope. Last time the rules were updated it was done so that the timing at the original server was what mattered, not at the client. Your enterprise level buffer is still receiving the broadcast in near enough real time and so needs a licence, just as a VHS recorder would even though no-one is watching it as it records.

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@RichyS

IIRC, the 'not being plugged in' thing is due to an exception that has always (well, for the last couple of decades anyway) existed, that receivers powered solely by an internal battery are exempt.

I believe this was put in to appease caravanners who could then be covered under their home licence when away from home.

Conveniently, a laptop (when not plugged in) falls under this definition, meaning it is covered under the exception.

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FAIL

Armed with bluster, spots and very little else

"Rumours that telly licensing's famous detector vans contain nothing more than a man, his sandwiches and a Thermos are strongly disputed on its website."

Dispute all they like, if they were anything more than a second-hand Transit with a bit of bent coat hanger on the roof (and a bloke with a thermos inside) we'd have had endless pictures of "busts" on late night ITV (or even peak time these days). Instead contracting out to breathless capitalists has reduced their most fearsome weapon to a spotty 20 year old with an aggressive manner (easy to deflect by telling him the facts of the law then ending the conversation with a big finger and a slammed door) and enough creepy, threatening mailshots to create a papier mache model of a small Himalayan mountain chain.

This would all be fine if their mighty database got its facts straight if they didn't unleash the youth and the equivalent of Nanga Parbat in paper to people who have always had a licence, but made the foolish error of buying a new telly. How very new Labour.

I strongly support the licence fee, but really despise being threatened for something I haven't done.

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Re: Riiiiggghhtt....

RichyS Posted Friday 2nd October 2009 10:50 GMT

"It always used to be that a license/tax was required for equipment 'capable of receiving a TV signal' (whether you actually had it hooked up or not was beside the point -- as long as it /could/ receive TV, you had to pay the tax). Has that now changed?"

It's been "actually used for receiving a TV signal at the time of broadcast" for some time - e.g. you can have one TV in your house for sole use with a Wii and not for actually watching broadcast TV, and you do not need a licence, even though it's technically capable of being used to watch TV.

From http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/information/index.jsp

"You must be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV."

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Bronze badge

Crapita

The beeb do not send out the threats. Look to CAPITA for that.

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@Aaron Jacobs

I've been that soldier - but took it all the way to court. When asked what evidence I was offering for my defence, I produced TV licences going back 10 years. At no point had anyone from TVL asked to see one, if they had I would have shown it.

In my case it seems to have been a cock up at the Post Office - although since we moved (and I told TVL that we had and continue to have a TVL...) because they have a slightly different approximation to my address than is on the licence, I get the letter and the licence in the same post each year (5 now).

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Silver badge

Not a waste of time

The argument for a separate TV licence is that, were the govt just to add 0.5% to the basic rate of tax* and 'promise' to pass the money on to the Beeb, they immediately have our semi-independent broadcaster by the short and curlies. Next time there's something they don't like on the Beeb, a quiet word from the Treasury will soon bring them to heel.

There's a far better case for simplifying National Insurance, which is no longer ring-fenced to pay for the NHS and OAP (if it ever was), and has simply become another way for the Chancellor to lie about 'not increasing income tax'.

* Which would be much fairer, linking the cost of the Beeb to ability to pay.

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FAIL

Top Secret Technology

Well, explains where all our licence money has gone, coz it sure ain't on quality programmes.

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Happy

Yes it is possible

To pick up signals radiated from a TV set.

Way back in the 60s I knocked up a small device with a hand held aerial. It could easily receive the radiation from the timebase circuitry in a tv from inside a car being driven along the street -- you could tell which room the set was in (the aerial was very directional) and you could tell which station was being viewed if you had a tv receiver with you to compare the timebase sync with. I was passenger in the car, not driving just in case anybody thinks I was using this thing whilst driving!

I knocked the thing up just to prove it was possible to those that said "na, it cannae be done"

Have never tried with a computer (none were around back then) so I don't know if such a device would pick up anything from a modern LCD type display -- maybe I should build another one to see if it's possible :-) .

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Anonymous Coward

Too agressive

Like Jacqui, I don't have a TV.

I don't answer demands for a licence as a friend, also without a TV did that, ticking the "No TV" box. Then he got even more frequent demands for money!

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Anonymous Coward

Knock-on-the-door-chappies do exist

Never had a TV. Had guys come round twice, I think. Told them to fuck off.

Btw, my girlfriend called the licensing office when iPlayer first came out to see if we needed a licence to watch it and they said it was only necessary for live stuff. Quite how anyone checks up on this I don't know.

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Silver badge

@hairy scary

The detector vans used to use the heterodyne frequencies to see what was being watched:

the received signal is mixed with another to generate a standard frequency for simple amplification. These all transmit at some small level easily detected using primitive electronics.

We have a TV license - we also get lots of final demands! Having lived in the US I'm more than happy to pay for a TV license. I do object to paying for stupid collection organisations who seem to think we should subsidise them by phoning in to correct their mistakes!

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

I don't believe that "next time there's something they don't like on the Beeb, a quiet word from the Treasury will soon bring them to heel.". All government needs to do is to ensure the legislation says that the finance algorithm shows this much required for any particular year; and can not be changed without an overwhelming majority voting to do so in parliament. That way it only gets changed if the reason is legitimate.

Besides if government has control then the same objection can be raised regarding the licence scheme. If the Beeb did something unpopular Government can presumably decide to reduce the licence cost to near zero and watch the Beep's income go into free-fall.

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Boffin

Detector Vans

Made by http://www.dbbroadcast.co.uk/

The real McCoy Features on the homepage!

if you see an TV Licensing advertising Van it is just that!

Oddly the Project to supply 6 Vans in 2003 has disappeard from the historic projects page... Hmm.. suspicious?

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Signals??

Surely a TV signal is one that is received through an antenna. So how do they get around the question of the internet (no signal as such?????).

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Silver badge

@AC 12:44

But if the BBC's revenue came out of taxation, they'd have to join the line at the Treasury every year and it would be all too easy for them to be told: "sorry, we need to build a new hospital/increase the pension/invade another country, so your share of the tax take has been cut". Of course any govt with a majority of 1 or more in the Commons could abolish the licence fee and tell the Beeb to raise the money commercially. I suggest that this would be highly unpopular and destroy one of the few areas in which it is still possible to take pride in being British*.

* Anyone who doubts the superiority of the BBC's programming should be made to watch nothing but RAI and Fox News for a year.

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Bronze badge

Solution

Why haven't the British people simply refused to vote for candidates for Member of Parliament of any political party that fails to include the abolition of the receiver license fees in its platform? Of course, the answer is that they would be effectively disenfranchising themselves, as neither of the two parties most likely to govern Britain, Labor and the Conservatives, has offered this... not even Margaret Thatcher herself considered abolishing this intrusive and vicious tax, but then that's perhaps because it is also regressive.

The BBC can be funded from general revenues (obtained from income tax, paid at higher rates by the wealthy) or it can run commercials, or both. People who prefer to watch Channel Four ought not to have to subsidize the BBC to a greater extent than those who do not watch television at all.

Or they could fund the BBC through an additional tax on gasoline, which produces carbon dioxide when burned.

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Pirate

ULTIMATE QUESTION:

IF BBC cannot access TVLicensing Database to make iPlayer available to Licence Holders, Can TVL see who is connecting to BBC iPlayer in order to prosecute?

Probably Not.

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IT Angle

Dear Fuckwits

This is an IT website and you lot are like how do they know who is watching iPlayer??

iPlayer is streamed - Ever heard of streaming..?

it relies on client to server connection - Ever heard of an IP Address?

They dont need no friggin Vans!

Do you understand Yet??

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Unhappy

Over-agressive arseholes

I bought my first house last year. Go me. As you might imagine, the minute I walked in the door I got a flood of paperwork. The tone of it all went something like this:

Power company: "Hey, congrats on the house!"

Water company: "Ah, so *you're* the owner. We were wondering for a bit. No problem."

Council tax (FFS!): "This much a year, please."

TV Licencing: "YOU ARE A CRIMINAL!"

Aaagh, steady on!

TV Licencing "YOU STILL HAVEN'T GIVEN US MONEY!"

I don't have a fucking television yet!

TV Licencing: "ENFORCEMENT HAVE BEEN INFORMED!"

It was around this point that I phoned them up and politely informed them that anyone stepping on my property without my permission would be ejected. Head first. Oddly enough, no more letters.

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To be fair (although it sticks in my craw)

I sent a particulalry vicious letter the the TVL people after pointing out to the dolt on the phone several times that it was hardly my problem that their system would not let them turn off the three monthly reminder that I MUST be watching TV, regardless of the facts, and that he'd better get it sorted.

I got quite a nice grovelly letter back, and have heard nothing since.

Bring back the radio licence and I'll gladly pay it for Radio 4, but Im not paying for the mindless pap that infests 90% of the TV schedule.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Oh yes

Please may i redirect the attention of everybody here

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/10/02/sony_wireless_power/

LOLOLOLOLOL

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Anonymous Coward

@ Greg J Preece

Similar to my mother-in-law. A few days after my father in law died, she had threatening letters about the TV licence because there was no longer a 70 year-old living in the house (she is 70 next year anyway, and nobody else is there).

Sensitivity, none. Why are they allowed to demand money with menaces? I thought that in itself was a criminal offence.

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@John Savard

The reason that no party wants to cancel the license fee is very much like no party wants to stand on a platform on privatising the NHS, with a few exceptions (very vocal exceptions, as you can see from comments above) everyone wants to keep the beeb. It's one of those sacred cows that you just don't fuck with (well, not too much.) At the moment, the torys think the beeb is too left wing and Labour think the beeb is too right wing, which pretty much means they're doing exectly the right thing.

As for funding from general taxation - If the bbc were funded from general taxation they would become an arm of government, the whole point of the bbc is that they are neutral. Even when we are at war, they refer to "The British" rather than our boys and whoever the current enemy is, which really got on Maggie's tits during the Falklands war.

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FAIL

Missed opportunity

As a family member of a former BBC employee I may be somewhat biased, but I fully support the TV licence. The BBC are unique: they sell programmes to audiences, whereas other broadcasters sell audiences to advertisers. Yet they aren't directly funded from general taxation, and so (at least in theory) are not beholden to the whims and caprices of the government either.

I just think it's a massive pity that the decision wasn't made, as part of the planning stages for the digital switchover, to mandate the fitment of a viewing card reader to *every* digital TV receiver. Then, the BBC channels could be broadcast scrambled, while the advertising-funded channels were broadcast in the clear; nobody would be watching programmes they hadn't paid for; and what's more, all this could be achieved without the use of heavy-handed bully-boy tactics.

Of course, this would necessitate a shift from per-address licencing to per-receiver (and remember that a video recorder is also a receiver). But there are always winners and losers with any change -- and who's to say that those who lost out had just been getting away with it too long? If it was done similarly to the old analogue Sky system, where cards could be swapped between receivers at will and would work in any one, having more sets than people needn't be unnecessarily expensive. There might also be a market for "limited hours" viewing cards for people who watched only a few hours of TV a month.

And I can confidently predict that the "well, I never watch the BBC, I don't mind a few adverts anyway" brigade wouldn't last a fortnight .....

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CRAPITA

CAPITA are just another debt collection agency who earn commision from the BBC for every person they manage to nab.

As with ALL debt collection agencies. NEVER let them onto the premises without a valid warrant and police officer attending. As with ALL debt collection agencies do not leave accessible windows or doors ajar. They are allowed to enter premises this way and can return without warrant if they have done so previously.

If anyone comes calling do not entertain them in any way whatsoever. Close the door on them if you already have opened it. They have NO power over you until they get a valid warrant (Unlikely).

Make sure your TV cannot be seen or heard from the street. Some sneaky bastards will try to look through your window, look and listen through the letterbox or look for the telltale signs of flashing lights through the window at night.

It really depends on how how agreesively they pursue it.

I had a few demand letters. I sent the last back months ago stating I was the landlord and the premises were now empty. Not heard anything since.

I plan on getting a new LCD or plasma type TV in the future but I will make damned sure that I pay cash and provide a relatives details (who has a TVL) for warranty reasons.

I refuse to pay a tax for a service that I may or may not watch. ITV, C4, C5, Sky etc are all paid for by advertising and subscription. Why this archaic system is still in place 'by force of law' I do not know. The other broadcasters don't receive any money from the licence fee either. It's not a TV Licence it's a 'BBC' licence and I refuse to be coerced into paying it!

Where is our freedom of choice? To not own a TV? I don't call that choice. You can choose not to subscribe to Sky. They don't come knocking just because you have a Sky box that 'might' be used to recieve their signals.

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Mystery people do exist

I moved house and my TV (which was not exactly in the first flush of youth) didn't survive the move. I had more than enough on my plate to occupy me rather than watch TV - I was watching less and less at the old place, in any case so I didn't renew. No tele - why should I? I kept receiving letters addressed to the previous occupant from TV licensing (it was on the envelope) but I kept returning them as "not known". I eventually opened one in error one day and it almost promised fire and brimstone, hell and damnation if I didn't get a licence and promising "a visit" by the firm. I just ignored it, as I resented the presumption of guilt. Someone did turn up one evening. I was somewhat surprised how meek and mild the guy was. Kept him at the door, on principle, as they do not have to be invited in. Told him I did not have a working TV on the premises at that time and he went away. Amazing.

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WTF?

the TV license should be ditched.

Apart from Top Gear, the BBC do absolutely nothing of value, and Top Gear isn't worth £150/year. The BBC should either use ads like everyone else if they want money, or encrypt their channels and people can CHOOSE to pay for a skybox style decoder (or pay for it on their Sky/Vermin Media package) so the vast majority of people who consider the BBC terrible value for money will stop using their channels.

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Go

Oh Brother!!!

And you guys tell us we have moronic laws in the USofA??? Big Brother has brown teeth!!

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Go

Didn't have a TV or license once...

First place, no TV. Kept binning the demands for money as they'd turn up every 3 months or so.

After a year someone actually came around to check if I had a TV, showed him the empty aerial socket on the wall, he thanked me for my time and left. Probably 20 seconds of my time... never received another demand again after that.

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Anonymous Coward

@Dick Emery

1) XMBC on an old XBOX - £25.00

2) Server or NAS - £30 ish or less

3) Torrent, torrent, torrent - free! Or borrow DVDs from library, friends etc if you want to stay good.

simples

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