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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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Boffin

I call BS

"Some aspects of the equipment have been developed in such secrecy that engineers working on specific detection methods work in isolation - so not even they know how the other detection methods work."

That is so much bull shite. You poor Brits - The US model for TV is not real pretty but it is a lot better than what you have. Perhaps you can copy our model of TV while we copy your model of health care.

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Megaphone

You've got it all wrong!

Don't moan about the tax you should be paying now.

Instead, start to make a fuss and raise the profile of how you can legally watch TV now. What must not be allowed to happen is that the goalposts are moved. They will try to redefine what watching TV means, and this *will* include iPlayer and other ways. It's just a question of popularity.

If more and more people stop paying the tax because they are using other things (I haven't had the TV on all night) they will start to lose revenue. Then they will want to get that from users of other media. If you make it clear that this is politically unacceptable *before* they try to soften us up, it will help prevent them from moving the goalposts.

Do nothing and they will, eventually, simply redefine the tax and rape you in the end.

So shout and tell them you *are* legal -- and will not pay the tax. Ever!

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FAIL

re: I call BS

The US model is better - you are kidding, right? I can only presume you are basing that on not having to pay 140 quid odd a year rather than the quality of programming. I've spent enough time living in the US in the past to know and appreciate the difference - the frequency of the advertising alone is enough to give any sane person a nervous tic, and with a very, very tiny number of exceptions (news certainly not being one) stateside TV programming is simply vile, brainless filler for advertising. Even assuming the programmes were worth watching ( a questionable assumption), you lose 20 minutes of an hour to ads (currently, likely to rise - growth, you know). Watch 3 hours a week and you lose an hour, and even with a modest hourly rate you'd earn enough to pay the licence comfortably - and even work beats the shit out of watching ads.

Anyone in the UK who is lauding the "innovation" of US TV, clearly hasn't been there. The imported stuff we get is rarely great, but it is stellar in comparison to the stuff that isn't exported; repeated bilge mixed to the same tired, 50 year old formula that every network trots out, day after nauseating day. No wonder most americans appear to be dead from the neck upward.

Feel smug, keep you 200 odd dollars and pay a cable channel instead, take our healthcare model if you want. But please don't lecture us over TV till you can produce something worth watching with a script that isn't dictated by the commercial interests of advertisers or Rupert Murdoch.

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Anonymous Coward

The funny thing is...

I was doing my annual return for my small business and I added up my total purchase of Andrex Toilet Roll for the last year from my Tesco till receipts, it came to £141.60. I was 90p short of the £142.50 required payment of my licence fee for my employees use of the bbc website, you can guess what I did, I copied the bbc format - and produced a another small amount of so called sh** to make up the total.

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FAIL

Guilty until proven innocent...

Hmm. Now everyone who buys a PC, laptop, netbook.. pretty much anyone now has to pay. Sounds like the beginnings of a Police State to me.

Expect a large jump in "TV blocking software" scareware very shortly.

As for paying £400 a year just for having laptops with built in tuners.. has no-one ever heard of disabling them in the BIOS, then locking it with a random key? Can't be that hard, requires effort to remove and can easily be verified.

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@finnbarr

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

Or PC World for that matter. I know someone who regularly gives his name and address as M.Mouse, Sunset Boulevard at these establishments.

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Biggest rip-off going!

Really narks me!

I have a nice big LCD TV, I watch nothing but bought and paid for DVDs, ripped to a HD and streamed from my server. For that I have to pay £150 a year to TVL for that!

I haven't watched a live broadcast for over 4 years now, my missus has watched a total of about 6 hours of TV broadcast in the last 18 months, where's my pigging rebate?!

TV is full of mindless, lowest common demon drivel, filmed for shell-suit wearing, druken chavs, and that's the good stuff! Dog Whisper, FFS?! Come Dancing?! Let's not even start with Big Brother and it's spawn of Satan ilk!

I am seriously thinking of chucking the telly on eBay and getting the biggest LCD monitor I can find, ensuring it has no RF, Freeview or and other reciever kit built in and telling TVL to go fill their pipes! I can then meet the very first section of the TVL advice page:

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

That's a great little paragraph there, nice and ambiguous. Anyone with a VM or Sky box is f**ked, 'cos it constantly recieves the stream live on your behalf, even if you don't watch it, so they greedy sods have you over a barrel!

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Beeb subscription

With analogue being phased out it would be feasible to make the beeb a subscription only service. That way if you don't pay you don't get it. Therefore no need to hassle innocent people who don't want the service.

Might also give them an incentive to make some decent telly!

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Silver badge
WTF?

No need for FUD

It has always mystified me why the demands for TV licencing are so menacing. All the beeb need to do is devote one day a week to 'US style programming' (the average, not the creme-de-la-creme of the US imports) with the same poor quality of programmes and the huge number of - very boring - adverts.

Then all they need to say is 'this is what you will get when the licence fee stops'.

I personally would pay 15 / month just to be able to listen to Radios 3 and 4. I think surveys have previously discovered that for many people the problem is not the relatively low cost of the licence, but the heavy handed and error-prone way in which it is enforced.

PS - why no sale of iPlayer programmes abroad? I know plenty of people who would pay to use the service from abroad!

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@George Schultz

Following on from AC's reply.

Unfortunately we've already started to implement the "US model for TV". We now have multiple channels of crap with pointless and irritating channel logos lodged in the top left of the screen (Note that these are removed while the adverts are on. Wouldn't want to spoil the adverts eh?).

The length and frequency of commercial breaks have recently been increased so that they are almost as intrusive and relentless as those in the US and Australia. Programme slots have not been correspondingly increased, which means that whatever show you tune in to watch has been butchered to make room for more advertising.

The networks don't seem to be able to afford space in between shows to tell you what's on next, so instead they voice over the film you were engrossed in or have some intrusive graphic pop-up or slide in. I remember watching a film in the US a couple of years ago and right at the climax of the story a large graphic of a car drove in from the right and some little men popped up to change its wheels. Apparently this was to remind me that NASCAR season was soon to begin. Although I'm fully aware that TV is a one-way communication device, I was provoked to scream at it that I didn't give a f*ck about f*cking NASCAR season and invited it to get the f*cking graphic off the f*cking screen so that I could watch end of the f*cking film. I was glad that we didn't have that sort of thing in the UK but knew that it was only a matter of time before we did. Sadly that time has already elapsed.

I accept that the UK TV licensing system is a joke and that it's doomed because of new technology, etc. but it has allowed the BBC to produce shows that I do not believe would have been possible on any other network. For example, the Monty Python team were given the chance to produce and air a full series of their ground-breaking sketches without the need for a pilot show, pressure and interference from sponsors or advertisers, worry about ratings, target/focus group responses, etc. that stifle originality and creativity.

But I know that it's only a matter of time before adverts come to the BBC.

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Television?

Oh I remember that, a curious fad that died out completely around 2010...

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Flame

You do not need a license to merely own a TV

I have not watched TV for over 10 years now and do not require a TV license. I still get the regular threatening letters however and occasional cards that someone has visited while I was out.

It's important that people understand that you do not require a licence to merely own a TV set.

You only require a license if you _use_ TV receiving equipment of any kind (VCR, Computer, etc) to _receive or record_ television broadcasts (or 'programme services' as I noticed the wording quietly changed to a year or so ago) while they are being broadcast.

You do NOT require a license to merely OWN equipment; only if you USE it for the purpose of receiving broadcast TV. i.e. if TV licensing came around and saw your TV connected to your XBox, there is nothing they can do unless they actually catch you in the act of receiving live TV.

Note that even if you just had a powered up VCR connected into the aerial with no TV and it's tuner was tuned in and receiving, you would be breaking the law without a license, even if there was no tape in the machine and you had no way of watching anything. It's the act of receiving that is illegal.

Now what I am really curious about is that I, like a number of other people who don't watch TV actually pay for Virgin Cable TV along with their phone and Internet package purely because it's cheaper as a bundle. It would actually cost me more per month to have the TV taken off my account. The cable box is in a cupboard somewhere and has literally never been plugged in, however I believe that iPlayer is available on Virgin and that they have some form of TV on demand service. In theory I should be able to use both of these services with impunity as neither are 'television broadcast services'.

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Alert

If they phase out TV licences

If they phase out TV licences they will only replace it with something worse Much Much Much WORSE

"Computer licence" "Media licence"

I hear its going to be MUCH Worse due it covers all what the "TV licence" does now and then goes for your PC being connected to the internet (The Swine's)

So what would you like to pay for in future "TV licence" or "Computer licence" / "Media licence"

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Silver badge

I would be happy to pay the license

People who think the BBC is worthless should look to other countries in which public television isn't as strong as it is the the UK. There the programme slowly drifted downwards in quality. I mean your stations still have the intention to provide good programming. There's something decent to watch on on each of your largest broadcasters.

Just look at one of the largest saturday evening shows in Germany:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PlGHe4rffw Yes, our public broadcasters spend millions on that stuff.

Other stations have other types of stupid, but expensive programming.

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By Jess Posted Friday 11:21 GMT

Spot on Jess, I have a TV license and even when I didn't have a TV they were hounding me. It would be fairly difficult to pick up a laptop screen but not impossible, if the detector vans are watching what I am doing on my laptop then that is an invasion of privacy.

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Scrap the license?

Hmm...not so sure that's a good idea. Firstly, we'd get shitty adverts on he Beeb and even shittier product placements (why THAT law was ever changed is beyond me. Money talks I guess). So all the commercial channels will become nothing more than 24 hour ads for shite you don't need.

"Ah, Inspector, how did you solve the case?"

"Well he said his SEIKO HARDMAN watch was £50. But I checked ARGOS (excellent delivery service) and it was ONLY £35! So I knew he was lying!"

"WOW! A SEIKO HARDMAN watch with WORKIGN BEZEL and PENTAX CRYSTAL is ONLY £35 at ARGOS!?"

"Yes indeed"

and so on....

This is your idea of an improvement? Jay-zuz people, ever tried *thinking* before posting?

TVL has issues, they are run by Crapita and are an aggressive bunch of arseholes at times (I've the nasty letters too), but they are still better than the alternative.

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@ TheBigYin

"but they are still better than the alternative" actually no.

One of the alternatives is to do away with broadcast based media completely and download what you want without adverts as and when YOU want to watch it.

At present the producers of shows are selling to broadcasters/ networks, if everyone was downloading only the content they wanted the producers could sell direct to their audience.

Given that the start up for being a distributor would then be the cost of a server and internet bandwidth the delivery costs could come down without the need to flood your audience with rubbish they don't want to watch.

Adverts have cause loads of problems in society without them giving anything back, the premise that they make it cheaper to watch quality content is false, the vendor / broadcaster just makes more money.

The BBC has by pure fluke produced some quality programming in the past however if you balance their latest content against time you wonder where your license fee went. I rarely watch BBC as they are not interested in what I want to watch only what is cheap in all senses of the word.

The media industry is always b1tching about how they aren't making enough money. If I had my way they would be paid after I had viewed their content and decided how relevant and entertaining I thought it was, rather than being suckered by adverts for films and shows that don't live up to their promises.

If they want to advertise it should be invisible to those who are not interested in seeing it, like this page I can scroll right past the adverts on the top, they don't keep forcing me to acknowledge them every 15 minutes.

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I feel short changed

I resent paying my license fee to pay for countless naff dramas, Eastenders, Casualty, Wossy, Moyles, Countless angry shouty police based drams, Excessive quantities and duplications of news reporters for their many tv and radio channels, and excessive teams of people and presenters at festivals like Glastonbury.

I only really watch TopGear and the occassional comedy. Hardley value for money is it!

I say encrypt the BBC and see how many people sign up then. My guess is that Sky1 might suddenly become more popular without the BBC's unfair advantage.

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Troll

TV at work?

In my world, we work whilst in the office and dont toss off my company by watching TV whilst being paid. Seems you lot need to wake up and realize your supposed to be working, not watching CBBC!

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FAIL

Australia

Why is it that the ABC needs $840m to cover a continent, and the BBC £4.5bn ?

Sure there's more depth to the BBC, but not an order of magnitude.

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