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back to article Beeb ordered to release TV licensing contract sweeteners

The BBC is to be forced to reveal secret sweeteners contained in its licence fee collection deal with Capita within five weeks. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) today gave the corporation a 35-day deadline to disclose the incentives written into the contract. BBC bosses had previously refused requests for the detail …

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Joke

Title Detector

The workings of its famous "detector vans"? The same tech used by Santa and the Easter Bunny.

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Boffin

How detector vans work:

1) Buy white van

2) Paint 'TV licensing detector van' on the side

3) Glue aerial to the roof

4) Drive round poor area where people are likely to not have TV licenses

5) Wait for the proles to buy licences to avoid 'getting caught by the van'

6) Profit

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Happy

"...the ICO...said the workings of..."detector vans" should remain shrouded in mystery"

This is confirmed by a friend who used to drive one for the Post Office. While not excluding that there are some vehicles designed to find the source of radiation from the local oscillator in the IF strip of a TV receiver, all he did was drive prominently and slowly.

It was particularly entertaining, he said, after dark, since the slow progress of the vehicle was accompanied by living rooms ahead which suddenly became dim, only to grow light again when seen in the mirrors.

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EMR

I just assumed they picked up ambiguous electromagnetic fluctations (possibly from CRT TVs) using directional antennae?

They'd then check if the possible source house had a licence and knock on their door.

Could (and almost certainly would) generate a huge amount of false-positives, but at least you got 'em!

Not sure it would even be worth it in the last 20 years, with PCs, microwaves, etc., but no reason not to pretend.

In fact, if that was how they worked, I'd be slightly dissapointed if they still had all the gubbins in them, seeing as how useless it would be.

Can't say I've ever seen one of these vans, though.

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WTF?

Detector vans.

If they actually had detector vans then they would be more than happy to tell us all about them.

If they actually had detector vans there wouldn't be so many evaders as they would be immediately caught.

There are plenty of pictures on the net of fake detector vans that contain no equipment whatsoever.

As for Crapita, they've been informed in writing that the next time they trespass on my property (I have remover implied right of access) I'm calling the police and charging them with harassment.

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How detector vans might work:

Well I can think of some fairly simple electronics that would do the trick. But maybe it's just electronics to make beep-beep noises, after all.

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Boffin

Simple, yes; fake, no.

Parabolic microphone + tv tuner.

Detect the AUDIO in a house, compare to current TV schedule. Job done.

It's not just electro-magnetic radiation given off by a TV, after all!

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WTF?

"famous "detector vans" should remain shrouded in mystery"

The only mystery is how the BBC has never been charged with extortion or fraud, harassing seniors who don't even have televisions.

Given today's solid state screens, built to low radiation requirements, another mystery is just what are these mysterious vans detecting? Guilty consciences? Or are they using the Israeli voice lie detectors?

Maybe Wikileaks has a new challenge?

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Stop

Most get caught for stupidity

The vast majority of convictions are as a result of the convictee admitting owning a TV when the 'inspector' calls - or letting him/her in.

What I'd like to know is where getting the evasion statistic from: I suspect they are assuming that everyone property is required to have a TV license and then comparing this to the number that actually do.

As somebody who does not need a TV license (by virtue of not owning one), I am fed up with harassing letters from TV licensing. When the inspector calls, he/she is given a response similar to that given by the defendant in the celebrated case of Arkel vs. Presdram.

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Grenade

TVLA - don't you just love them? me neither

"Last year it collected £3.4bn and on its website it boasts it has reduced the rate of TV licence evasion from 5.7 per cent to 5.1 per cent."

I don't have a TV, I don't have a licence - I don't watch catch-up either, which I think should require a licence if watching a video/PVR does.

What I do have is a growing file of correspondence with TVLA as i periodically have to fend off a juggernaut pushing me (as the only person vaguely at the address in question) towards a Magistrates Court because "everyone's got a TV so I must be lying, we can't deal with you because the address is slight different and we've got to worry about the DPA" and other moronic tedious BS.

It's time consuming and by the time I've got to recorded delivery to get them to stop relatively costly

BTW I've just received another letter as Royal Mail seem to have altered my address on the PAF - double joy.

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No license needed

You do not require a license to watch a video, dvd or video game. You only need one if you watch a live over the air broadcasts. So watching catch-up iplayer is not live and requires no license.

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FAIL

@ No License (sic) needed: LMGTFY

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/

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Anonymous Coward

Interestingly enough

I too keep getting threatening letter from the TVLA, simply because I tend to buy the replacement and upgraded TVs in the house but the License is held in the name of my partner, to whom I am not married and with whom I do not share a surname. Our house is also clearly on the land registry as a single occupier dwelling.

I have learned, through a number of phone calls and pointless arguments when this started, that trying to discuss the matter with them is not going to get anywhere, so I sent them a recorded delivery letter a few years ago which states the facts as they are and points out that I am no longer willing to discuss the matter with them and pointing out that any action they chose to take against me will necessarily fail and I will as a consequence take action against them under various acts. I finished by inviting them to take immediate legal action against me if they "are that incompetent and stupid".

Now, when they send me the standard threatening letters (about 5 since I sent that letter) I just file them away and ignore them. They have never followed it up in any visible way - no further legal threats, no proper lawyer's letters, no knock on my door by a man in a detector van no nothing.

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@gerryg

Why 'fail'?

Your link agrees with the AC: "You need to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it's being broadcast"

And further clarification about iplayer: "You need to be covered by a licence if you watch TV online at the same time as it's being broadcast on conventional TV in the UK or the Channel Islands"

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Adult approach

As Lee said, if you know you're in the right, just ignore them.

They won't prosecute unless they are sure you're evading paying.

(IANAL)

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Detectors - pah!

As a student, my mate had an ancient manually tuned job, worth considerably less then the licence fee. We used to keep a hammer beside it in case the knock on the door ever came.

(Which it never once did in 5 years, btw.)

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Not ONE

person has EVER been convicted of license evasion based on sole evidence of a detector van.

EVER.

Because in order to make the prosection, the bbc or whoever has to disclose how the vans work and they have alwyas been unwilling to do so.

Therefore, you cant/wont be prosecuted just because some jumped up little twat who drives a white van says so...

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Anonymous Coward

But they don't just do this

Or at least didn't when I was a student some years ago.

Initially they just try to scare you into getting a license yourself - this is the cheapest and easiest way for them - they identify areas with high numbers of unlicensed properties and do some very visible drive-by.

What they do to enforce though, is they use the vans to determine where there are unlicensed TVs and then they pay you a visit. You are not obliged to allow them entry to your property (but most people apparently just do so when asked), however you must show them your license and TV receiving equipment and proof of sub-dwelling if asked. If you don't play ball they will just come back with the police - yes they do have that right and plod will support them, even though I assume he would rather be out policing. If you read between the lines this also means that if you have no TV you cannot show him your TV receiving equipment so you end up having to grant them access - either at that time or with the filth. Harsh yes, but they make the rules, not us.

However it is really unlikely that TVLA will pop round to a house with a valid license generally.

If you live in a standard house then you either have a license for the property or you don't - it is that clear cut.

If you have a multi-occupation property (basically if you pay rent separately and you have a private area that can be locked) such as a block of flats, student accommodation etc. then you need a separate license for each "locked away" TV.

15 years ago the vans could tell which in room a TV was located - I was in student accommodation (on a campus) which was 6 individual bedrooms and a communal area. I was the only one with a license (my mother bought me one) and 2 other guys had TVs in their rooms. TV licensing (obviously seeing student accommodation as a good little earner) sent every set of flats on campus a warning about licensing in the first week and after a week or so sent round a van.

They came to our place and told us exactly which rooms had TVs in (and not the ones without TVs) and demanded to see licenses. Luckily for those without they were given the option to pay up sharpish rather than get an immediate large fine.

So, rambling and reminiscing aside the point is that it won't be a jumped up little twat in a white van's say so, it will be a personal visit from a TVLA enforcer who will then establish whether you appear to be a license evader or not - from whence it will be down to a court to formally decide the matter.

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Happy

Switcheroo

The requirements of earning a living mean that I currenlty live in a flat from Monday to Thrursday and a house from Friday to Sunday. Both properties have a TV, but because I'm a geekish loner the one I'm not sleeping in is empty. I have one TV licence between the two. I think this is legitimate, but of course I'm deluged with junk mail from Crapita.

There's a web site where you can change the address on your licence, and I thought it would be amusing to write an application that switches the licence address twice a week. But I'm afraid Crapita might not get the joke, and I'd end up having to buy a second licence.

Does anyone know what the rules are?

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Answer:

You need to license both properties, according to the rules.

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@Switcheroo - LMGTFY2

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/for-your-home/second-home-aud8/

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You need two licenses

Because both properties have a TV you need two licenses. If you had one TV that you moved between the two addresses then you could possibly get away with switching it twice a week.

You used to be covered for a portable TV away from home but it had to run on batteries not sure if that is still the case.

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Paris Hilton

Batteries

I believe that you can legally use your one TV license in another property if that reciever is powered soley by its own internal batteries (ie it is not an installation - plugged in).

It really is that stupid!

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Boffin

in the olden days ...

before flat-screens they *could* in fact pick up the emissions from the line timebase generator which worked at around 10-12 Khz. Based on this, coupled with the 50Hz synch pulses from the frame timebase they could work out what you were probably watching,

The local oscillator was probably not very powerful (and tended to be well shielded) so I don't think that would have yielded anything useful. Modern flat screen LCD TVs probably (almost certainly) can't be detected using this technique any longer.

Of course the tech will have moved on by now. Its called intimidation.

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They haven't taken up my challenge

I told them that they were welcome to park a detector van outside my house for as long as they wanted and to apply for a search warrant if they found evidence of me watching a TV.

Funnily enough, they just keep sending threatening letters (which go straight back into the post box marked "return to sender").

Maybe I shouldn't have told them that if they presented evidence of a non-existent television, I'd do my damnedest to have whoever presented that evidence sent down for perjury, since it would have to be a lie.

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Evasion rate

How can they possibly calculate the evasion rate?

My bet is that 5.7% of households didn't have a licence and they've begrudgingly accepted that 0.6% don't actually need one. The other 5.1% may also not need one, but Crapita are refusing to believe them.

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Flame

I have a TV and a license

And I STILL get piles of mail from Crapita claiming I don't have one.

I've driven "TV detector vans" (in another country) - as one of the other posters said, they don't exist, we were forced to put up with some of our vehicles being painted up as such for a while due to employer contracts.

What _does_ exist is a list of addresses which don't have licenses - "And everyone has a TV, so go knock on the door" - it's a pity that Crapita's list isn't particularly accurate.

I'm waiting for the day they knock on my door, so I can invoke the tresspass act and use "reasonable force" to remove them from the 1st floor balcony staircase which is the the only way to get to my front door.

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Happy

Many moons ago...

... I worked for the BBC and undertook a small project installing a medium wave transmitter for a BBC local radio station. We had to do field strength measurements at 500m, 1km, 2km etc from the transmitter, so my colleague drove our BBC-badged Land Rover to points on the map at those distances. He'd then stop so I could twiddle the knobs of the measuring kit, which was a laptop sized box with a whip aerial. As we were frequently stopped on residential streets it was amusing to see curtains twitching as people spotted our 'detector van'. No doubt the post office received extra licence applications from that estate :0)

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FOI

A major issue I have with the system is that they only work out your license period per month, so if you buy a years license at the end of January (say January 28th for example) it expires on January 1st. You're getting an 11 month license for the price of a 12 month one. Bargain!

I queried this with them and they told me this was to keep the cost of the license fee down, as checking people's licences by exact dates is more expensive for admin. What a load of bollocks.

My plan was to do a FOI request for exactly how this extra admin cost breaks down (I assume they must have done a cost analysis report in order to be able to make these claims), but I haven't got round to it yet. Having said that I've got next week off work so maybe I'll find time then.

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Joke

Are the sweeteners for Capita the same as those given the operators of

the Cat Detector Vans ?

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Joke

Where detector vans went

Darkness preceeds.

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How the tech works.

Crapita/TVLA have a database. On it is every single home in the UK.

Any home that is not registered as having a TV license is obviously evading the TV license, so therefore must be sent intimidating letters. Any area with a significant number of houses not registered on the database must have white vans patrolling prominently with "Detector Van" written on the side.

It's sort of like the National Identity Register, if that had ever come to pass.

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TV licence under one name...

... TV bought under a different name (howeer credit card billing address is the same as the TV licence address)..... sure enough, a Capita letter in the post asking for licence money.

Try calling their phone number and see if there is way to navigate the menus so that you can actually talk to a real person.... I couldn't...

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When I was a student

My mate Vivian used to eat the telly if the licence bloke (harry the bastard I think his name was) came round.

Worked a treat!

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.The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Ah, that brings back a memory, first year of Uni, floor of halls with 30 odd rooms, we were given warning the license people were coming. I answer my door with the kettle lead plug hanging out of my mouth, to re-enact the young ones episode, sadly it was lost on the bloke, or he just had no sense of humor.

And the only person to invite him in had a tv license and for the one day only, about twenty TVs.

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tv flicker

I used to know a TV Licensing agent, and he said that they caught most invaders by doing their rounds at night as they could spot the TV flicker from outside, he would then go to the door and claim that their "technology" detected a TV signal on the premises.

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