back to article BBC vans are coming for you

Pinch, punch: The license change requiring you to have actually shelled out the £145.50 for colour television (only £49 for monochrome) to watch BBC programmes on demand comes into effect today. As we reported earlier this month, claims that the BBC would be sending vans about the UK to sniff Britons' wireless networks for …

  1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I'd still like to know...

    How exactly they can pinpoint which resident has or has not a T.V. licence got, when it comes to communal residences such as a block of flats?

    On a related note; What about those who live on private land? Do the vans have legal permission to trespass if the residence is away from a publicly accessible road?

    Finally, does being force to watch all the stupid videos on facebook count as 'on demand' ? What if you (legally) download a video and then stream it from say a plex server ?

    I've never seen much in the way of clarity on these things over the years.

    (on a side note, glad I've wired the house up rather than use wifi... sniff my packets will you......*grumble, grumble, get off my lawn etc. etc.*)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I'd still like to know...

      I think TV Licensing use the Royal Mail's Multiple Residence File which is a list of all the UK delivery addresses + all the flat numbers for those delivery addresses split into flats.

      If you don't want them beating a path to your front door you have to write to them to withdraw their implied right of access.

      Finally I guess on demand means on demand services belonging to UK TV stations although I guess if they put stuff on YouTube it could get ambiguous.

    2. JustNiz

      Re: I'd still like to know...

      > How exactly they can pinpoint which resident has or has not a T.V. licence got, when it comes to communal residences such as a block of flats?

      They used to have vans with big coils on the roof that were supposedly able to pick up the RF from the high-voltage used by the flyback transformer in old school CRT-type TVs, but since CRTs have long gone they can't do that any more. I read that they can sniff wifi packets to see if anyone is streaming BBC shows over wifi. my bet is that most of it is really just fearmongering to try and scare people into getting a licence.

      1. buyone

        Re: I'd still like to know...

        I was taught that TV detectors picked up the IF radiation and colour burst. However TEMPEST penetration collected stuff from the CRT display, The flyback transformer (LOPT) is used to scan not modulate so shouldn't contain information.

      2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: I'd still like to know...

        Its entirely fear-mongering. The vans are a fiction thought up in the 50s, when tv was still seen as a bit magical and science could do anything you could imagine. Nothing but propaganda.

        1. Steve Evans

          Re: I'd still like to know...

          The vans are all smoke and mirrors. Whilst it could be possible to detect the signals generated by CRT TV's back in the day, flat panels are a whole different ball game, plus a 1920x1080 monitor would generate signals just like a 1080P TV.

          The "detector" van works from a database.

          Property used to have licence, didn't renew it = Knock on door.

          Property just bought a new TV and don't have a licence (you did know that retailers take your address to log the sale of a TV didn't you?) = Knock on door.

          To a lesser extent Antenna on roof and no licence = Knock on door.

          I'm sure they make a continual pain of themselves round any new development as the new addresses appear on the database.

          Whether the snoopers charter will extend to allow the BBC to demand names and addresses of people accessing their streams is something I'm sure we'll find out very soon.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd still like to know...

      "How exactly they can pinpoint which resident has or has not a T.V. licence got, when it comes to communal residences such as a block of flats?"

      Because a person registers a TV licence to an address. Individual flats in a block each have an address. If their address is registered they have a licence if it isn't it doesn't.

      "What about those who live on private land? Do the vans have legal permission to trespass if the residence is away from a publicly accessible road?"

      There is an implied right of access to allow people to access your grounds so they can knock on your door or deliver letters or parcels etc. This just means that unless stated otherwise the person can cross your grounds for legal reasons under the assumption you have allowed them unless you specifically state that they are not allowed (like an opt-out box rather than an op-in). A notice at the bottom of the garden can be used to withdraw implied rights to certain or all people including TV licence 'enforcers', bailiffs etc.

      "Finally, does being force to watch all the stupid videos on facebook count as 'on demand'"

      This is just for BBC iPlayer use (live, on-demand or download) from their apps or website. It does not cover any other channels or any other streaming services.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd still like to know...

        "can be used to withdraw implied rights to certain or all people including TV licence 'enforcers', bailiffs etc."

        Bailiffs - up to a point

        https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/action-your-creditor-can-take/bailiffs/letting-a-bailiff-into-your-home/can-a-bailiff-force-entry-into-your-home/

      2. William 3 Bronze badge

        Re: I'd still like to know...

        Implied right of access does not grant people the right to peer through my curtains spying on what I'm doing, intercept my snail mail, route through my bins, or trying to hack my wifi.

        As well you know.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    66% discount

    B&W license for non-existant telly and use Internet.

    1. Woodnag

      Re: 66% discount

      Ah, but does your 'puter have to have a b&w monitor?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 66% discount

        No. Been on a bw license for years as my lass has no colour vision and the license is in her name.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: 66% discount

          So called "colour blind" is different perception. Only people practically blind, who would be registered blind have monochrome vision. Read up on Rods and Cones.

          I'm baffled why they have a separate monochrome licence at all actually, many countries don't.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: 66% discount

            Curious. A lack of colour vision? I know someone who would love to have a poke around in her head with an fMRI scanner.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: 66% discount

              Paranoid Android!

          2. unwarranted triumphalism

            Re: 66% discount

            Achromatopsia is a completely different condition from being 'practically blind'.

            Their vision, albeit being completely monochrome, is much more sensitive to light than in trichromatic, anomalously trichromatic, or dichromatic individuals.

            1. Alien8n Silver badge

              Re: 66% discount

              Quite often it's black and white under "daylight" conditions, but with limited colour perception under low light. There was a documentary a few years back looking at colour perception and language (it's quite amazing how language affects our perception of colour). In the documentary they had a woman who sees in black and white, but at dusk and dawn sees colour.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 66% discount

            Two words:

            Adam Ant!!!

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: 66% discount

              Adamant?

              From Twyfords

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Proposed law: All game show sets must look like "Ask the Family" circa 1975

      "B&W license for non-existant telly and use Internet."

      Is that technically legal?

      Surely it only applies if you're browsing the Internet on a computer or tablet with no colour support? ;-) Quick- dig out that Hercules graphics card!

      FWIW, having seen the various quiz shows that my parents watch, I'm starting to think that black and white- or at least a black-and-white-on/off button- would be a rather good idea. Is there some law which states that *all* game and quiz shows nowadays have to use garishly over-the-top lighting in 110% saturated primary colours against dark backgrounds? Uuuurgh, just bloody stop it.

      Can one sue ITV for prematurely burning out the colour receptors in their eyes?

      Makes me almost nostalgic for the days of bland beige sets. Or maybe not.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well played BBC, all those homes and people that stated they watch on demand TV services will now have to purchase a licence where previously they did not. I was asked that very question 2 years ago when I moved house.

    1. david bates

      No they won't - just iPlayer. And presumably just iPlayer TV. I've not seen anything that mentions radio, and seeing as radio iPlayer counts as digital listening figures I doubt they will want to drive people off that platform and dilute the case for turning off FM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sorry my mistake I meant catch up tv on Iplayer. I was asked and told at the time it was ok to watch catch-up (non-live) without a licence and they explicitly confirmed if you viewed such material. I bought a licence anyway so it didn't apply. I don't actually mind paying for the licence though if the content goes even more downhill I will cancel it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > No they won't - just iPlayer. And presumably just iPlayer TV

        ...and not all iPlayer TV. S4C content is not covered by this change, so it's basically unenforceable from a technical standpoint.

        Radio is indeed exempted, you do not need a licence to listen to the radio on the iPlayer. Or a set-top box, but that one is going to be pretty hard to defend.

        All this really means is that TLV's monkeys will start to claim that "the law has changed luv, you need a licence for that laptop" in an attempt to trick or scare people into paying for something they don't need.

    2. buyone

      Good at Collecting, No Good on Refunds

      I am still waiting for my £100 refund after chopping in the licence when the telly went tits up.

  4. scrubber
    WTF?

    Regressive tax

    Regardless of your view of the BBC, as a national treasure or a state goliath destroying the free market for media, can we at least agree that it disproportionately costs the poor while benefitting the rich?

    If I buy a TV (as a large screen monitor) in order to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, why do I have to tell some spotty oik in Currys my address? Why does some public employee then use that address to check if I have a BBC license (let's not call it a TV license, eh?) and send me threatening letters non-stop and then try to use legally dubious tactics to access my property to see if I'm 'stealing' the BBC?

    And, while I"m on a rant, why do BBC radio listeners get a free ride? Those free-loading pirates living it large off the back of artists and TV watchers. Seen from afar one could call this class warfare where the poor pay for the rich...

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Regressive tax

      costs the poor while benefitting the rich

      Just like the National Lottery, then. Or VAT on "luxury" food and adult clothing. Or underinvestment in public transport. Or failing to build sufficient houses. None of which seem to raise the same level of indignation.

      Because the people who argue loudest on behalf of the overtaxed "poor" are usually the undertaxed "rich" who want to pay less themselves but appear virtuous at the same time.

      1. scrubber

        Re: Regressive tax

        Not at all like the national lottery. If I wanted to gamble in the casino but I had to pay a lottery tax to do so (to fund athletes and the opera and other nonsense) then it would be the same. The fact is that in order to watch advertiser funded live broadcasts, even online, I have to pay for the behemoth BBC.

        If you want my opinion on other regressive taxes, or ones where they ostensibly take money for A but spend it on B then wait until there's an article about those but this one happens to be about the BBC.

        The majority of people who don't like paying so much to the BBC are those who get little out of it and aren't won over by the same patriotic bullshit that makes people in the UK proud of the also Jimmy Saville-enabling NHS.

      2. Mutton Jeff

        Re: Regressive tax

        I saw a survey recently, that said 100% of people thought other people should pay more tax.

    2. Phil Lord

      Re: Regressive tax

      Radio is free since the costs associated with are so much lower than the costs associated with TV.

      There used to be a radio licence, but the cost would be so low, and it would be relevant to so few people that it's just not worth it.

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: Regressive tax

        I really wish there was a BBC radio license, along the same lines as the NPR subscription on the US of A.

        Why?

        Because it would give us listeners a financial handle on the way radio programs are commissioned and produced and it would give BBC Radio some leverage against the TV juggernaut. It might even get the quality of Radio 4 drama and Radio 3 music production somewhat nearer the standard it reached in the '80s.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

      Because it's the law. The government decided.

      Here you in Ireland you don't, though they want to introduce it, including

      It's NOT a BBC Licence, they just happen to get most (but not all) the revenue. In the old BPO days when the Posts & Telegraph folk controlled everything, the BBC only got 2/3rds. It's a Television receiving apparatus licence. There used to be a loop hole where if you lived some place with no TV signals except foreign satellite (before BSB), you could get an exemption.

      In the 1980s my company removed tuners from TVs so they could be sold as monitors not requiring a licence, for home computers etc, though one licence covers a household.

      I think S4C gets some of the money. Does C4 get any?

      A similar arrangement exists in many countries, though often part of the money is set aside for locally made TV for any local channel.

      People are paying £300 to £600 a year for pay TV and then watching 92% free content on it, yet complain about the TV licence? Baffling.

      Governments can tax whatever they like.

      You should see what percentage of Road Tax and Fuel tax goes on roads. Tolls and Road Tax are totally stupid taxes. Simply taxing fuel would be more efficient, fairer and save consumer money for same revenue raised.

      Lots of taxes make no sense. Like Corporation tax. Tax the actual human beneficiaries.

      1. david bates

        Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

        "It's a Television receiving apparatus licence"

        No its not. If you don't watch broadcast TV you don't a license, regardless of how many receivers you have.

        1. TheProf

          Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

          I believe it was a licence to operate a television receiver.

          Although I've never heard of anyone having their license revoked for watching bad telly.

          1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

            It's a licence to receive live television broadcasts, which is why iplayer live is covered by it, but using the tv to watch dvds isn't.

        2. Steve Walker
          Happy

          Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

          What is a TV Licence needed for?

          To use and install TV receiving equipment at the licensed place. It covers:

          a) watching and recording programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, including programmes streamed over the internet and satellite programmes from outside the UK, and

          b) watching and downloading BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

          This can be on any device, including TVs, desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, games consoles, digital boxes, DVD, Blu-ray and VHS recorders, or anything else.

          So "BBC programmes" not just BBC TV it is the programming they cover not the equipment as it was years ago. Move forward young man!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Regressive tax

      You give your real name and address ?

      Last one I gave was Cameron Osborne @ SW1A 2AA, the spotty kid took a minute to realise what the address was and he was not getting my real details. Also a London postcode when purchasing in Cornwall or Devon.

      Or giving them there own name(thanks name badges) + store name (Scott PCWorld / Argos) and store postcode stumps them.

    5. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Regressive tax

      If I buy a TV (as a large screen monitor) in order to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, why do I have to tell some spotty oik in Currys my address?

      1060 West Addison

      (ok, admittedly should be adapted to something more local as opposed to an address across the pond...)

      1. Valerion

        Re: Regressive tax

        1060 West Addison

        (ok, admittedly should be adapted to something more local as opposed to an address across the pond...)

        1060 West Addison? That's Wrigley Field!

        Kudos for the Blues Brothers reference.

    6. RegGuy1

      Re: Regressive tax

      And, while I"m on a rant, why do BBC radio listeners get a free ride? Those free-loading pirates living it large off the back of artists and TV watchers. Seen from afar one could call this class warfare where the poor pay for the rich...

      Fuck off.

      Leave us radio bods alone. I'm currently in Zurich and I can happily listen to Radio 4 whenever I want. I don't watch TV and try not to use their (progressively shitty) news website. But I do like Radio 4.

      So shut the fuck up and don't let anyone know you can legally do this for free. Otherwise the cunts will try to stop it.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Regressive tax

        RegGuy1 "F..." Agree.

        Related speculation...

        Most broadcast TV ends up, somehow, being streamed to the 'net. Without permission.

        I expect that activity to become a tsunami over the next decade.

        Every broadcast TV channel on Earth, available from 'somebody' over the 'net.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Regressive tax

        Peter Griffin? Is that you??

    7. Nifty

      Re: Regressive tax

      "The poor pay for the rich"?

      Um, could you explain how the license fee discrimates again large families, even multigenerational ones sharing a home and paying one single license fee?

    8. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Regressive tax

      If I buy a TV (as a large screen monitor) in order to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, why do I have to tell some spotty oik in Currys my address?

      You don't. At least, you are not legally required to. The law changed in 2013. Although this may still be news to some branches of Curry's.

      My Mum moved into a care home earlier this year. I bought a small TV for her room - from Curry's - and I certainly wasn't asked for an address, because I know I would have had to think what address to give. That reminds me, must change the address for her current licence.

      I suspect that nowadays they just assume that every address has a TV, until proven otherwise. Guilty until proven innocent!

    9. gerryg

      Re: Regressive tax

      Retailers are no longer obliged to inform TVLA of any of your purchases, full details somewhere on this informative site.

      I used to watch one programme on iPlayer, once a week, but TBH never really understood why it was legal. If I recall correctly, the original strategy of the BBC was to try to extend its bandwidth grab under the Blair administration to include the internet but the only reference to those intentions I ban find is a 2009 FOI request (so we should remain grateful for small mercies...)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legal Question..

    So it's to my understanding there are a number of UK Linux users who use "get_iplayer" and also a number of users who use plugins such as "iPlayer WWW" for Kodi.

    These are unofficial third party tools to allow a user to download/stream content from iPlayer website without having to actually visit the website.

    Often the BBC attempts to block or prevent these services in claims it may be used for "Piracy" or such.

    So now if someone owns this new license part of that license now declares they have the right to stream/download from iPlayer correct?

    So if the BBC in the future attempt to block such third party tools from working for license holders what would the legality be? Wouldn't that now be forcefully preventing a paying customer from using their service/device? What's the legality on that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Legal Question..

      Dubious. I would guess the licence doesn't grant you the right to receive the "signal" in any way you demand (primarily because of the piracy claims you mention).

      An exaggerated example, but in the same way you can't demand the Beeb posts you a copy of each Eastenders on betamax :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Legal Question..

      Get Iplayer aint just for linux, its available for windows and works bloody well!!!

      1. lorisarvendu

        Re: Legal Question..

        <i<"Get Iplayer aint just for linux, its available for windows and works bloody well!!!</i"

        Shhhh!!!!

  6. Jess

    I gues it's only fair

    Although there are a few things I feel are not done right.

    The rule should have also been changed to allow all non BBC live TV channel to be streamed without a licence. (And eventually, ideally, the same for broadcast TV).

    The player apps should require TV licence credentials for all content that requires it.

    There should be a cheap option for those who feel the full price is too much. (Netflix and Amazon are both much cheaper.) Repurposing the Black and White licence for this perhaps? (perhaps, monochrome live feed, SD catchup with low limits on number of programs that can be kept for offline viewing at once and number of active devices.)

    I have never had a colour TV licence. I used to have black and white until the change from the post office made it to tricky to purchase one. (I tried several times from the little corner shops.) And I realised that I would have zero need of one for the next few months (having only needed it for about 6 hours the previous year), so I decided to pack away the mono TV and wait to try again until I would need it.

    However I got enough offensive letters from the licensing authority (implying I was a criminal, not asking politely, had that been the case I would have replied) that I gave away the TV and just watched catchup (and videos).

    It was very kind of the BBC to allow this until now, but there is not enough I want to watch that will justify the price, so I shall delete the app from the final bit of kit today.

    1. technoise
      Linux

      Re: I gues it's only fair

      Jess said:

      "It was very kind of the BBC to allow this until now, but there is not enough I want to watch that will justify the price, so I shall delete the app from the final bit of kit today."

      Hmmm. I'm not sure how kind it was when they did it initially - I always suspected that they vastly grew their online presence at the time they were coincidentally angling to have the TV licence attached to a household having broadband, in a sort-of Internet=BBC gambit, allegedly. Thankfully the government of the day didn't fall for that.

      Also, a lot of people complain why don't the BBC encrypt the iPlayer feed and offer it to people who can provide numbers that are printed and issued with TV licences. Again, I suspect this might strengthen the case for the Beeb becoming a subscription service, and thereby lose their guaranteed £3.7 billion / year income from the licence. I have come to see the BBC as a funding model with an entertainment and News/propaganda service tacked on as justification (allegedly). But then I am an old, jaded cynic.

      1. Jim 40
        Big Brother

        Re: I gues it's only fair

        "Also, a lot of people complain why don't the BBC encrypt the iPlayer feed and offer it to people who can provide numbers that are printed and issued with TV licences. Again, I suspect this might strengthen the case for the Beeb becoming a subscription service, and thereby lose their guaranteed £3.7 billion / year income from the licence. I have come to see the BBC as a funding model with an entertainment and News/propaganda service tacked on as justification (allegedly). But then I am an old, jaded cynic."

        Not a jaded cynic at all. You've hit the nail on the head.

        The only bit I would take slight issue with is "...the BBC as a funding model with an entertainment and News/propaganda service tacked on as justification..." The BBC is the voice of the British Establishment.

        It's purpose is to promote and propagate the views of the Establishment through all of it's output, even the "entertainment." The jingoism surrounding British sport used to make me puke.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Confusing

    If you trawl the BBC website it's never exactly clear where the internal links take you. In the past I found myself on an iplayer page unintentionally (and unwanted), so will they now make it obvious, or will they try to trap people into erm.. breaking the um... law?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Confusing

      It's worse than that. Not all iPlayer content actually counts as material needing a TV licence!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True story

    I live in a converted building made into flats. Well, two building knocked into one but only one front door. The Beeb licensing unit kept writing to the flats using all 3 addresses ie Flat 1, 20 New Street, Flat 1, 21 New Street, Flat 1 20/21 New Street. I got them to change all the records to point to just 20 New Street. Someone in one of the flats signed up for a license using Flat 1, 21 New Street. Stupid girl.

    TV van came around and man with flashing lights on a black box said you've got a telly but no license. The box says so. Girl produces her TV license. Bloke confirms it's legit and says 'But you don't have a TV license'. Huh? What's that in your hand? A TV license for this property. But the box (with the flashing lights) disagrees. Girl tells him to f-off.

    When I heard this it just confirmed what I thought all along. The Beeb can't detect shit. They do however have everyones address and just matches license info with addresses.

    I cancelled my license and they wanted to know why and where I was going (to make sure that place had a license). Told them to f-off. I wasn't going anywhere, just don't watch TV anymore (mainly!!!).

    So, if anyone gets a man with a box with flashing lights at their door - grab it, throw it on the ground and stamp on it. You'll see the inside is empty apart from I assume a couple of AA batteries and a chip to flash the LEDs.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: True story

      Box with flashing light.

      But that is the internet

  9. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    TV detector vans certainly do work

    They contain sophisticated receiving equipment that use adaptively filtered EM receivers as well as other signal receptors to detect the leakage of EM and other energy that all video displays radiate, and are capable of comparing the distinctive spectrum of that energy to that of a live TV transmission.

    The equipment is extremely unlikely to give a false positive, and will work just as well and in the same manner whether the screen is CRT, LCD or LED, and whether it is being fed from an analogue, digital, terrestrial, satellite or a live TV Internet feed. Large screens are however a lot easier to detect than small screens, and handheld devices are usually not detectable at all unless conditions are exceptionally favourable. It has a fairly big detection range and can be operated from outside the premises.

    The equipment in question is part of the van's operator, and is also known as "eyes" and "ears". Look at the windows or any residence at night and the chances are that in a large percentage you will see a characteristic brightening and dimming of light around the edges of the curtains - coming from the screen of a TV set in the room. Look at a block of flats and you will be able to identify all the flats in which the same TV channels are showing as they brighten and dim in perfect synch. If compared with what is currently being broadcast on the most popular TV channels, it will be pretty easy to see if the pattern of bright and dim coincides with what's being broadcast on one of those channels. If so, you could double-check at the appropriate moment by having a listen at the letterbox to see whether the familiar sound of, say, the Eastenders theme tune can be heard, but that is hardly necessary.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: TV detector vans certainly do work

      the familiar sound of, say, the Eastenders theme tune can be heard, but that is hardly necessary.

      Bit like eastenders then?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: TV detector vans certainly do work

      What a load of cobblers. Please do explain why the "detectors" showed that I had a TV when living in Lewisham at a time when I'd only just arrived in the UK and hadn't bought a TV - and wasn't to do so for another six months. I told them to f*** right off.

      It's as scientific as astrology and homeopathy and clearly believed by the same kind of people.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: TV detector vans certainly do work

      Edited. I realised what your saying is that this thing has a recording of all light patterns produced by all BBC TV programmes available on demand over iPlayer and can detect in real time that you're watching iPlayer catchup. Also it can detect, say, Top Gear over iPlayer instead of Top Gear over Dave catchup.

      Absolute fucking bollocks.

    5. Chemist

      Re: TV detector vans certainly do work

      "Look at the windows or any residence at night "

      They'd have to come up half a mile of unmade road, then go on foot in the dark through thick woodlands for another half a mile because our TV is at the back of the house and the nearest road in that direction is a mile away with half a mile of woodland in-between.

      So just to be sure we dim the screen & just listen to the sound ( with headphones).

      Load of nonsense

      ( I do have a TV license 'cos you can't be too careful !)

    6. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: TV detector vans certainly do work

      They would be scuppered comparing detected data with wahtever is currently broadcast on TV with us, any TV watching is on "catchup" - PVR records stuff, it is watched when time allows, not when broadcast (only time "live" TV is on is when TV switched on and before program to watch from playlist is selected.

      If they want to catch "catchup" use they will have to cross reference against huge database & massive chance of false positives e.g. someone watching a purchased DVD, with huge amount of signals in database to covedr all transmissions the the few seconds detected could falsely match just by chance, and even if a correct match watching DVD of a film that has been previously transmitted on TV would be legit.

      Full Disclosure: Not that it matters as I have a licence (it's not that expensive over the year, less then a pint at the pub each week)

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Eastenders/Archers

    Storylines would no doubt soon feature characters who get caught by "detector vans" for watching TV without a licence

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Block bbc.co.uk/iplayer domain in router.

    How to still avoid £145 fee.

    Log in to your router and block the domain bbc.co.uk/iplayer, remove iOS / Android BBC iPlayer Apps from ALL devices, as these don't directly use the domain bbc.co.uk/iplayer. I also removed BBC 'iPlayer' Radio, which is the only thing that bothered me. (some say you don't need to, but probably best to be safe than sorry, the key is in its name)

    My biggest problem with the legislation change is I have have not had a TV for more than 10 years, I would accept paying a Netflix £5.99 a month fee to watch iPlayer only, but this change its all or nothing. I don't want a TV in my house because its such a waste of time, I just don't want full blown TV ever again, I've really not missed it, so it ended up as nothing.

    My ISP could theoretically prove I have never streamed from bbc.co.uk/iplayer, so if it went to court that would be my evidence, blocking iPlayer in the Netgear router stops anyone accessing it, by mistake.

    Then of course, you need to write to the before tomorrow -1st September 2016, describing what steps you have taken, how you understand the change in legislation, how this effects things.

    Sounds a pain in the neck, but its easy enough, to jump through their hoops, but don't do this if you think you might try and watch iPlayer at some point, its just not worth it, easier to pay up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Block bbc.co.uk/iplayer domain in router.

      You don't have to write to them about anything. You don't have to use your isp to prove anything. You don't have to block anything.

      If you don't watch it or use the service then you don't need to pay. If you do then you do, it's as simple as that. Any case against you would require proof that you had been committing the offence not just assuming you have unless you can prove otherwise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I hate the word 'loophole' used extensively by the media to describe this.

        First of all, I hate the word 'loophole' used extensively by the media to describe this.

        This was never a loophole, it was a perfectly legal means to watch 'catch-up' BBC iPlayer up until 1st Sept, within the defined rules. It was only that it became 'more mainstream' to watch just catch-up, (with licence fee revenue dropping) that the Government decided to stem the tide and make it illegal to watch BBC iPlayer catchup services after 1st Sept, without a TV licence.

        Its easier to block bbc.co.uk/iplayer in your home router than worry about it, once its blocked thats it.

        I needed to write to TV licencing because in the past I have told them that I watch catchup services occasionally, so I needed to show that I understand the new legislation changes, and that, watching iPlayer catch-up is no longer possible. I'm disappointed a paywall/username/password wasn't introduced.

        Capita have a job to do, I accept that, most incriminations are by invaders themselves, I believe there is some 'detector technology' in the iPlayer iOS Apps /iPlayer Android Apps. This maybe in the form of a detectable high frequency pitch, certainly the Apps have access to a lot more device information, over web access.

        Most incrimnations result because they do what you put forward as a solution, which is don't reply to Capita/TV licencing letters - and isn't.

        Far better to be upfront, pro-active in writing/dealing with TV-licensing, you get nowhere just ignoring them. That's just my experience from having to deal with them every couple of years, just to confirm nothing has changed (or in this case where it has).

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Re: I hate the word 'loophole' used extensively by the media to describe this.

          "Far better to be upfront, pro-active in writing/dealing with TV-licensing, you get nowhere just ignoring them. That's just my experience from having to deal with them every couple of years, just to confirm nothing has changed (or in this case where it has)."

          That sounds like you have been quite unfortunate.

          When I got my own household (~7 years ago) I decided I didn't need a TV - I didn't watch it that much, and iplayer was available on the computer for the few things I wanted to see.

          So, within a few days a licence fee request arrives - I didn't open it as it was addressed to someone else, just wrote "RTS - no longer at this address" and put it in a letterbox.

          From then on, every few weeks, I got various reminders/demands/threats sent to "The Legal Occupier" which when read carefully were just waffle - full of "may"s "could"s etc. - they are filed in the recycling bin.

          Only once someone actually came round - the exchange went like this:

          "I'm from TV licensing, do you..."

          "I don't need one."

          "Do you have a television?"

          "I don't need one." (Closes window.)

          Any attempt to make their lives easier makes yours more difficult - unless they can prove you require a licence and don't have one, they can't really do anything.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. ma1010 Silver badge
    Coat

    I got caught by a detector van

    It was the cat detector van. From the Ministry of Alvinge or something like that. He made me buy a license for my cat.

    Mine's the one with the cat license in the pocket.

    1. Neoc

      Re: I got caught by a detector van

      @MA101: Ministry of Housinge

    2. The Unexpected Bill
      Coat

      Re: I got caught by a detector van

      Funny you'd mention that -- just for "grits and shins" I named a wireless network set up for testing purposes as "cat detector van". I had no idea that someone had spoofed TV detector vans in this way before.

      More seriously, I've seen mention made of a lower cost TV license for black and white sets. I'd be greatly curious to know how many people in this modern day and age are still watching a black and white TV as a "daily driver". Probably more than I'd guess. Are black and white TVs of any kind still on the market over there? I'm also curious to know if a "TV audio only" license exists: at least here in the 'States, AM/FM radio receivers with television audio capability for all VHF channels were once quite common.

  13. Steve Foster
    Black Helicopters

    Silly Question, but...

    ...can anyone actually cite the legislation that changes the rules? (rather than just the BBC/TVL claiming the rules have changed)

    All I could find was reports of Whittingdale saying that the government intended to make the change "possibly as soon as later in the year", then some parliamentary debate notes in early summer about the BBC White Paper (that talked about introducing legislation in due course), and then of course, Brexit happened and turned everything upside-down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silly Question, but...

      Maybe the The Reg could some journalism, instead of re-posting crap about sniffing wi-fi signals.

    2. Adam Jarvis

      Re: Silly Question, but...and real journalism.

      It's within the The Communications (Television Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 2016, the original legislation is part of the Communications Act 2003, which this substitutes.

      I only found it this morning after 8.30am on the website legislation.gov.uk, which makes sense as it was implemented from today 01/09/2016.

      ------------------

      Modification of the Communications Act 2003

      9.—(1) In section 368 of the Communications Act 2003 (meanings of “television receiver” and “use”), for subsection (3) substitute—

      “(3) References in this Part to using a television receiver are references to using it for—

      (a)receiving all or any part of any television programme, or

      (b)receiving all or any part of a programme included in an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC,

      and that reference to the provision of an on-demand programme service by the BBC is to be read in accordance with section 368R(5) and (6).”.

      (2) In the application of section 368(3)(b) to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, “on-demand programme service”, and references to the provision of such a service by the BBC, have the same meanings which they have in Part 3 of the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (as amended by regulation 5 of these Regulations).

      --------------------

      You can watch any other catch-up TV Service (non-live content only), ALL4, ITV Hub, etc still without needing a TV licence. You need to avoid ALL Live TV and ALL (both live/catch-up) content from BBC iPlayer.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent

    Last time they tried to get to my door the concierge wouldn't let them in the building. Scuppered. Not that I had a TV anyway but they want me to waste my time sending them a letter telling them I don't have a tv then they can waste their time trying to check up on me.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear BBC

    "happy" to pay this - please ensure all iPlayer content is available to me, online, every day in the year for which I've paid, regardless of location ..

    [After all, if it's a "TV License" (right to receive broadcast television signals) then it's linked to the TV (the device), so can't apply to iPlayer; if it's a content access license, it does apply to iPlayer of course, but it's not linked to the device or that device's physical location.]

  16. MJI Silver badge

    B&W licence?

    How can there be such a thing anymore?

    The licence depenps upon the receiver not the screen, since only digital is broadcast now, and all DTTV decoders do colour, this does seem an anacronism.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Counter-measures: use a VPN service IN CONJUCTION WITH OBFSPROXY (OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY).

    Can Capita's Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) 'technology' tell the difference between say a livestream from BBC News24, as opposed to, for instance livestream from Youtube, or RT.com, aljazeera.com?

    What if you have four or five windows open, and stream from several different websites SIMULTANEOUSLY? Would this muddy the waters?

    Even if their 'technology' can differentiate between various livestreams, effective counter-measures exist by using a VPN service IN CONJUCTION WITH OBFSPROXY (OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY).

    Several VPN service providers allow this, and such techniques are successful used by millions who reside in even nastier regimes than our own in the UK, such as Iran, China, Pakistan.

    Mullvad, NordVPN, Proxy.sh, VPN.AC, are just a small example of the many providers who now provide OPENVPN+OBFSPROXY technology.

    Continue to bin the letters, and use a VPN service which has a track record of defeating the Great Firewall of China (one which uses TOR's obfs technology), and continue to use the BBC iplayer (Live or not).

    ((It may also possible to use STUNNEL in conjunction with a VPN service to defeat DPI)).

    At the end of the day the [B]lantantly [B]iased [C]orporation will continue to rely on the same old nasty letters, littered with the phrases such as 'Interview Under Caution' and 'Police And Criminal Evidence' Act, thrown in, to fool the stupid into mistakenly believing that the TV enforcement staff have 'Police Powers'.

    Whilst those with a half a brain know it's safe to continue to bin the letters, and shut the door in the face of any inspector who does pay a visit.

  18. William 3 Bronze badge

    Picture this.

    Imagine having to pay Microsoft a license fee before you can use a search engine, even Googles, even if you never use Bing, simply because Microsoft doesn't show adverts on it's search results.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Picture this.

      You do if you run Windows

  19. William 3 Bronze badge

    If they couldn't spot a peado...

    If they couldn't spot a paedophile molesting girls for decades despite him doing so on stage with cameras pointing at him, I highly doubt they'll be able to catch you watching the documentary on iPlayer about how everyone knew at the BBC apart from those able to stop it.

  20. pig

    There is no checking other than a database.

    See title.

    They stopped trying to 'detect' years ago.

    Nowadays they use a big database of addresses and cross reference it with which addresses have a license.

    Those that don't get letters and visits.

    Simple.

    The only problem is their letters are very badly written and their visiting staff seem to be vetted to ensure they are twats. (Probably send them to traffic warden school)

    I have a license as I think it is great value. Hell, I'd pay it for I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue alone.

  21. MotionCompensation

    Overly complicated?

    I'm not British and I don't live in Britain, so maybe I'm missing something here. To me, this sounds like an overly complicated way to get people to pay for content. Why not simply introduce some kind of authentication, your receipt number is your username or something like that, for online content?

    To me, the way it works now looks like Netflix streaming their content without password protection of any kind and then sending vans over to peoples home to find out who's using Netflix without paying. It does not make sense to an outsider.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overly complicated?

      Its just the way things are done here I am afraid.

      Other countries collect the BBC Tax (equivalent) with the council tax.

      Other countries tax the roads on the fuel, bit like a pay as you go for cars.

      Other counties realize that modern cars are safer and more reliable and require the car safety test every two years.

      Other countries realize that this saves money.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overly complicated?

      The BBC has a lot of (cash cow)power which they are reluctant to give up by moving into the 21st century and risking the Courts telling them to fuck off and get their money through advertising.

      These BBC licensing Laws were passed many years ago when the UK only had a few TV channels (BBC1, BBC2 and maybe ITV), if you were watching a TV back then you were watching the BBC and that's about it. But today in the UK we get a ton of TV channels(freeview) who don't get any of the TV licence money or ask you for a subscription of any kind but who still remain in business.

  22. Bob Rocket

    Revenue stream drying

    I've got a license because the youngest still wants kiddies tv (though she doesn't like the BBC content). As soon as she doesn't use it anymore then the TV is going. I stopped watching the BBC a long time ago when the News channel became a shit vesion ot Richard & Judy and R4 seems to be going the same way.

    They are going to have the same problem as the Sun/Times, as fewer people access their content there will be fewer references to their content (and so on down the plug hole)

    Neither culturally relevent nor entertaining, it has become an expensive luxury.

    So long BBC, it's been educational (but not any more)

  23. yossarianuk

    Obvious solution

    The obvious solution will be for the government to give access to the 'internet record' stored under the investigatory powers bill so auntie can see exactly what (non vpn/tor, etc) users are up to.

    After all what's one extra organisation given the amount of bodies that will also be able to access the data (with no warrant needed)

  24. MJI Silver badge

    Don't like paying it, but...............

    It is still just about worth it.

    I watch about 90 minutes of TV a day, that is all, not a lot.

    Favourite channels are BBC2HD & BBC4HD, C4

    Occassionally BBC1

    Sometimes have to use BBC I Player, this works well, clients on devices I use, it JUST works.

    Now ITV, my wife likes some of their sh1t, but she failed to notice the start of a series.

    NO repeats despite nearly as many channels as BBC.

    shITV player just DOES NOT WORK, shows adverts then blocks you for having APB, er I just saw 3 of the buggers. NO clients for devices I use (2 big selling games consoles), one device actually losing the client (4th or 5th best selling games console).

    Beyond Incompetent.

    BTW the fix is STV player and greasemonkey.

    I object more to companies I buy from advertising on ITV than paying BBC licence fee.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. j_me

    I wonder how many people would stop watching the BBC altogether if...

    the BBC made people sign up to iplayer with UID's taken from a TV licence, doing away with the need to sniff wifi. And while the BBC is at it people should be told (when buying a TV) that they need a TV licence for the BBC only, giving the consumer a choice of purchasing a television that isn't tuned into the BBC at all thus negating the need for a licence.

    In the UK we have about 80 channels of freeview (no TV licence needed) so who needs the BBC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder how many people would stop watching the BBC altogether if...

      "And while the BBC is at it people should be told (when buying a TV) that they need a TV licence for the BBC only, giving the consumer a choice of purchasing a television that isn't tuned into the BBC at all "

      WHAT !!

      (I'm glad you joined today to contribute that piece of insanity)

      1. j_me

        Re: I wonder how many people would stop watching the BBC altogether if...

        Why is it insane.

        It's only the BBC who get the licence money, if you don't watch the BBC then why pay for the licence.

        Oh by the way has anyone given that as a excuse/explanation in court and what was the result.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I wonder how many people would stop watching the BBC altogether if...

          "Why is it insane."

          I think AC was asking where could you buy such a TV - esp. as the first thing it does on switching on is to scan for all available channels. Might as well promise not to watch any BBC channels.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC vans are coming for you

    Has disappeared from the 'Front Page' of El Reg.

    Have the black helicopters got you?

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