back to article BBC Telly Tax heavies got pat on the head from snoopers' overseers

The BBC got top marks from the artists formerly known as the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC) – but has refused to say if it will push for fewer external inspections of its use of creepy surveillance powers. The OSC (which has since been merged into the UK's uber-spying regulator, the Investigatory Powers …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1984 - Chapter One - George Orwell

    "The telescreen recieved and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever the wanted to. You had to live- did live, from habit that became instinct- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: 1984 - Chapter One - George Orwell

      Hi Alexa.

      Etc.

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: 1984 - Chapter One - George Orwell

      I have the (almost) full list of Capita sites that completely fail GDPR all ready and set for the ICO, so here's to hoping for endless prosecutions and a steady drain on Capita's turnover. Come May 2018 they are going to learn what it is like to be a TV license holder being threatened and bullied by their knuckle-dragging goons.

      1. Stu Mac

        Re: 1984 - Chapter One - George Orwell

        Oh! Opens popcorn.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Shurley shum mistak?

    "As well as commending Capita’s “excellent record keeping and administration system”, and giving them a pat on the head for taking their “legal responsibilities very seriously”,

    Crapita? Really??

    Oh, Capita. Some other outfit.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So RIPA...

    ...that was supposed to only be used for terrorist investigations now is being abused as everyone said it would be.

    Its also not an offence to have a TV even if you don't watch the BBC with no licence. It's an offence to own a TV that is cable of picking up a TV signal with no licence. You could be using that TV to watch old DVDs, Bluray or VHS or just for at games consoles. As long as you have no internet and no TV aerial you can still own the TV without a licence.

    If a TV licence means no adverts then fine. I find it funny that people moan about the licence but are fine with pay Sky, Virgin or BT for their "licence".

    The RIPA abuse is much like how they claimed they wouldn't use the logins for iPlayer to track people with no licence. I don't know why they are bothering. The amount of times I've signed up "Mr & Mrs Fuck Off" or variations in a post code that is miles away from where I am is still amusing.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: So RIPA...

      This is incorrect : "As long as you have no internet and no TV aerial you can still own the TV without a licence."

      The stipulation in the TVL act is that you cannot watch programmes at the point they are broadcast by any means - without a valid license; and since September 2016 this also applies to content streamed through BBC iPlayer ONLY. This applies to any content viewed through cable or satellite also. So, this means that actually watching the 7pm news at 7pm (i.e. at the point of broadcast) without a license is illegal. Watching the 7pm news via catchup at 2am in the morning is not. Watching stage #2 of the Tour de France streamed live via the Eurosport player app is illegal, watching it 6 hours later through the same app via their catchup service is not.

      I know this because I have argued 4 times now with TVL drones that have tried to force entry to my house, with each time them being sent away with their sorry tails between their podgy underpaid legs.

      There is no stipulation in the TVL act that states that you have to have a valid license if you (A) have an ariel, or (B) have internet connectivity as well as a TV. I choose to have no TVL and am quite within my rights to stream catchup TV such as Eurosport player or More4, or play on my PS4 while connected to the internet, or watch streamed movies via Netflix or pre-recorded DVDs, all without a valid TV license.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: So RIPA...

        It all gets blurry...

        So what about watching Prime Minister's Question's live online via www.parliamentlive.tv?

        i.e. the main "to go" source of such content now, where the BBC is seen as a secondary broadcaster.

        If you do need to a TV licence to watch such www.parliamentlive.tv content surely the website/Apps should inform the user that the content is being broadcast live on TV simultaneously, so requires a TV licence to view. i.e. the Eurosport App example etc.

        Why should you have to be even aware if such content is being broadcast at the same, if you don't own a TV and watch via a paid subscription App?

        It all gets a bit blurry regards BBC iPlayer Catchup because the BBC (or it's makers, upload each week's episode, programme is never pulled down for copyright) upload Question Time to YouTube.

        Parliamentarians want you to pay the TV licence, but where you legitimately avoid it, the BBC is bending the rules to make Political content still "viewable for free" that should be only viewable on BBC iPlayer, by uploading to YouTube.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So RIPA...

        I stand corrected. I thought it had changed with the 2016 change. Good to know.

      3. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: So RIPA...

        Catch-up TV on the Beeb is now also covered by the TV licence. You wanna watch Blue Planet on iPlayer at 2am? Where's your TV licence? I quote:

        But you will need a licence if you watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand. This applies to any device and provider you use.

        It does not however cover watching DVDs on TV (because you're licenced to watch it by the copyright holder), or watching ITV, Channel 4, or other commercial TV channels on TV without a TV licence, because they are paid for by commercial advertising.

        It's annoying. They could've simply gone for a PPV system where you log in, watch your programme, pay 50p or something via your mobile, and your total bill per calendar year (or whatever 12 month period) would be that year's annual TV licence fee. So if you watch less, you pay less. If you watch more, you pay up to the TV licence. Everyone's happy...

        But yes, like someone else points out, it is *not* illegal *not* to have a TV licence if you do not have a TV (as opposed to some European countries where you pay a 'TV tax' regardless of whether you have a TV or not), and if you do *not* have a TV, or you have a TV that is not connected to any receiving equipment or tuner (like a decoder/antenna/internal receiver/tuner), you are entitled to tell TV Licensing to FOAD. I have found in the past that a stern letter threatening them with a restraining order has the desired effect that they will back right off.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Channel 4

          Part of the TVL goes to Channel 4 so you might be on a bit of sticky wicket if the goons catch you watching that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Channel 4

            The law clearly/explicitly states BBC iPlayer content, and nothing else. 40D/ITV Player are exempt, as long as you only watch catch-up, if it's the live channel feed of ITV Player/40D you need a TVL.

          2. Defiant

            Re: Channel 4

            WRONG, the only money CH4 had was for the Analogue, Digital switch-over. For some reason the BBC and its lefty supporters have to keep lying to defend it

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: So RIPA...

        "

        The stipulation in the TVL act is that you cannot watch programmes at the point they are broadcast by any means

        "

        Close, but still not correct. You may not *install* a TV receiver so that it is capable of receiving broadcast TV, and you may not *operate* any apparatus so as to cause it to receive broadcast TV programmes. Technically, you cannot be prosecuted for watching TV in your home without a licence so long as you did not switch it on or change the channel etc. yourself. If, for example, your 9 year-old son turned on the TV completely of his own volition you are in the clear - he is the guilty party, but as he is below the age of criminal responsibility he cannot be prosecuted. If the premises was covered by a TV licence during the time the TV was actually installed you cannot be prosecuted under that clause either.

        There is no requirement to have a TV licence in order to own apparatus that is *capable* of receiving live TV, no more than you need a fishing licence to own apparatus that is *capable* of catching fish.

      5. Stu Mac

        Re: So RIPA...

        9 years since I have the Beeb a penny. They can FRO.

    2. Les Matthew
      Big Brother

      Re: So RIPA...

      "now is being abused"

      Now? I think you'll find that it has been abused since its creation.

    3. Defiant

      Re: So RIPA...

      I find it disgusting that people like you think you have a god given right to have you're entertainment subsidised by everyone else

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: So RIPA...

        This is not a case of 'you have a god given right to have you're [sic] entertainment subsidised by everyone else'. This is a case of 'this is what the law says and means, and this is what TV Licensing believes they can get away with'. If I don't watch/listen to BBC programming, why should I be funding it? TV Licensing is notorious for browbeating vulnerable people, old people, and those who do not own a TV set (like students often who prefer watching their programmes over tablets, phablets, and laptops) into paying for a TV licence which is not necessary in some instances. They use reprehensible tactics that induce unnecessary stress (especially the 'we're going to take you to court' kind of aggressive letters) and they believe they can act with impunity. They *must* be put back in their place and kept in line.

        The way the government decided it would resolve this was to cover online streaming and catch-up TV (which to be fair was inevitable given the trend to move online with entertainment), so yes, those who watch iPlayer on catch-up on laptops, mobiles and other devices capable of streaming, are now required to pay for a licence despite the licence now being misnamed. It is technically no longer a 'TV licence'. It is now a 'BBC funding tax' because it pretty much only covers the BBC funding.

      2. Stu Mac

        Re: So RIPA...

        But not as disgusting as YOUR grammar.

    4. ForeverAnnoyed

      Re: So RIPA...

      I have no internet connection to my TV and I have no aerial either but as I have a sat receiver pointing at a foreign sat I also have to have a TV licence despite not being able to watch or receive UK channels simply because the TV shows I am watching are Live.

    5. Claverhouse Bronze badge

      Re: So RIPA...

      @AC

      If a TV licence means no adverts then fine. I find it funny that people moan about the licence but are fine with pay Sky, Virgin or BT for their "licence".

      No doubt. However, a TV license can never mean 'No Adverts', since even if the State propaganda channels carry no advertising, as would be normal in any country: you still need a licence to watch commercial channels that may display adverts.

  4. LucreLout Silver badge

    Why persist?

    Just merge the various beeb legal entities into one, thus using the proceeds from access to the entire beeb back catalog being made available through netflix/prime/iPlayer to fund them. Otherwise simply move most of it onto a subscription service and encrypt the channels.

    The programming is dumbed down year upon year, and the news coverage has gone so far left of centre its basically Guardian TV. There was a time when the beeb could be justified, but that time was sometime last century; we don;t need it, and shouldn't be forced with threat of criminal records and jail time, to pay pay for it, even if you don't consume it.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Why persist?

      I'm not sure we don't need the beeb. Whatever its faults, everything else is worse. If we didn't have it, I've no doubt standards would slip further.

      Murdoch wants it gone. That's the best reason in the world to keep it.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Why persist?

        Whatever its faults, everything else is worse. If we didn't have it, I've no doubt standards would slip further.

        But it isn't. The beeb is a shadow of its former self, when it had less than half the budget. NetFlix holds up the standard of TV, as does HBO, CBS, and Fox to a far more significant degreee than whatever output the beeb conjoure up - much of which is bought in or outsourced.

        Take Amazon Prime - the beeb couldn't get together the last few series of Ripper Street, so Amazon took it on, did a much better job of it, and then leased/sold the content back to the BBC.

        These days the beeb simply blocks up the market, pushes up costs for other broadcasters, and sends militant grandmothers to jail for declining to pay the telly tax.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why persist?

        That's hardly an endorsement.

        I don't support Murdoch either (would never buy the Sun EVER) but the BBC needs to believe in itself, stand on its own two feet. If necessary double the funding in the interim if that helps (to make some really decent lasting content), but stand on its own two feet it must.

        I firmly believe the BBC would be better showing the 1970's test card than The One Show, because that trash gives the everyone the excuse they need to block the BBC completely.

        I'd love to ask Matt Baker what helps him sleep at night, he'd probably say "The One Show on BBC iPlayer" and laugh while collecting his £350,000.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Why persist?

          Well, rather than licensing every TV set (when pretty much everyone HAS a TV set), how about this?

          a) make it an annual tax that everyone just pays;

          - and -

          b) have people who do NOT own TV sets (or do not use them in 'illegal' ways) apply for a refund [then it's on them to prove they don't own one]

          The cost of enforcement and non-compliance would be WAY lower.

          You could actually LOWER the tax rates by doing this

          The BBC would probably have more money as a result

          There would be no more invading people's privacy.

          The current system is probably outdated. If you can make it work well for everyone, then nobody will really complain (too much). But with pretty much every household having a TV in it, you're better off just assuming that everyone has a TV, issue exemptions for those who can prove they do NOT have a TV, and be done with it.

          [but that would make too much sense, wouldn't it? I think UKs gummint is as gummed up as USA's in the same kinds of ways, because THAT is the nature of a gummint]

          1. DasWezel
            Thumb Down

            Re: Why persist?

            "when pretty much everyone HAS a TV set"

            [citation required]

            Frankly I suspect TV ownership is actually going down, what with more than enough decent content being available on demand via the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Youtube etc. That said, I've got about as much evidence to support that as you have in claiming that pretty much everyone has a TV.

            Put it this way. Since pretty much everyone has a car (amirite) how's about we all just pay road tax, then apply (probably to the bastion of reliability and morality that is Capita) for a refund if you don't own a car, or drive an EV, or drive a classic.

            tl;dr: Nope the nope right off.

          2. Stu Mac

            Re: Why persist?

            Better ideas.

            Scrap the licence fee.

            Scrap copyright law.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Why persist?

            "b) have people who do NOT own TV sets (or do not use them in 'illegal' ways) apply for a refund [then it's on them to prove they don't own one]"

            Guilty unless proven innocent?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Why persist?

              I assume the downvoter is happy for Crapita to come and search their house every two weeks to confirm the absence of a TV?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why persist?

      "the news coverage has gone so far left of centre its basically Guardian TV"

      That must be why I keep seeing/hearing the Farage spouting his hypocritical nonsense at every possible opportunity.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Why persist?

        "the news coverage has gone so far left...

        ...Farage spouting his hypocritical nonsense at every possible opportunity."

        When both sides say you are biased against them you are probably doing something right.

        The BBC may (definitely does) have faults but the news coverage is normally reasonably balanced. (although the Brexit coverage has been dreadfully skewed)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why persist?

          'The BBC may (definitely does) have faults but the news coverage is normally reasonably balanced. (although the Brexit coverage has been dreadfully skewed)'

          The question I have here, how would you know if what news coverage you're normally seeing on the BBC is balanced, reasonably or otherwise?

          Pick any story with any sort of political angle, watch the BBC's coverage of it, compare that to Sky's, Fox's, RT's etc. etc. coverage of the same story, then honestly ask yourself the question, which one of them (if any) is giving you 'balanced' news coverage?

          Is the BBC anti-Brexit?, the impression I'm getting from the tone of their coverage of it is yes, and I've heard a number of people point to that and say that the BBC are a bunch of lefties (though I fail to see the connection between being pro-EU and being politically left wing, just as not all pro-Brexit people are right wing 'Little Englanders'.)

          Is the BBC 'left wing'?,the impression I get from the tone of their coverage of a wide number of issues is no (and politically, I'm decidedly well left of centre, and both sides of my family have been so for a couple of generations) what I do get from their output is that the BBC is 'establishment' and as such can exhibit a somewhat politically schizophrenic 'bias' in their news coverage depending on the subject of the story and, to an extent, 'who' and what 'arm' of the BBC is covering it.

          In summary, all news coverage is biased.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Why persist?

            Try being right and remain.

            That confuses people.

            JM & KC FTW.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

    I have a polite dialogue with the BBC every two years by post (snail mail), pre-emptively reminding them why I don't watch the BBC or it's catchup services. It comes down to time. In life, we have umpteen distractions and the idea of watching The One Show is so far down that list, it doesn't bear mentioning.

    This is nothing new, I've done this for the past 15+ years. When the iPlayer catch-up rule came I blocked "bbc.co.uk/iplayer" in my router. (You can still legally watch ITV Player and Channel 4's 40D. I just block the BBC).

    There has never been a TV aerial entering the property, but if you are thinking of doing the same, best to remove it.

    Just to say, the BBC/Capita seems to have changed tact.

    They seem to be paying MORI in these situations where a customer is amenable/cooperative "pre-emptive", to carry out a "media survey" or a general survey with a media bias, as MORI like to state, and reading the blurb, these surveys can be "targeted at individuals".

    They (the BBC) really don't leave you alone, even when you legitimately do everything to keep their shit out your home.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

      Hmmm, I dunno.

      Yes, the idea of watching The One Show does indeed fill me with dread, but by not blocking ITV's Hub and C4's 4OD, you kind of suggest that this is about more than not having time. Is it a case of sticking it to the man? Other than Family Guy I can't think of anything I'd watch on ITV so if BBC isn't your thing I don't know how ITV could be?

      Genuine question by the way.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

        I dunno about ITV, but 4OD is where Grand Designs lives, and I really enjoy that.

        Many a happy eve spent watching Grand Designs and trying to copy neat bits of architecture into minecraft.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

        ITV Player and 40D catchup services are not blocked because legally you don't have to (at the moment), it's a simple as. It was more to make the point if you do want to watch those two services (catch-up only) you can.

        Both catchup services are paid via advertising in a similar way to Netflix is by subscription (as long as you watch ITV/40D catch-up, not live Broadcast content).

        If the rules change, they would be blocked (in the router) along with the BBC.

        The current system is a mess, put the BBC behind a paywall, make it subscription only with a Netflix style £5.99 subscription, let it stand on it's own two feet.

        It's not that unusual not to watch 'TV' today, and you're comment is implying it's somewhat odd, it's not.

        1. Dabooka Silver badge

          Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

          It was a genuine question why you blocked BBC but not the other's, it certainly wasn't implying that not watching TV is odd. I get now you felt the need to block iPlayer but not Hub and 4OD.

          It read as if you blocked iPlayer but used The Hub and 4OD hence my question.

          Thanks for replying.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

            If you don't need a TV licence, why talk to them at all? Let them spend money on sending someone to your house (who should then also be ignored). I do not keep getting snotty threatening letters from the fisheries board telling me that I must not fish without a licence and telling me that I have to write to them to say why I believe I do not need a fishing licence. The DVLA do not harass me and demand that I tell them why I do not need an HGV licence.

        2. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

          "The current system is a mess, put the BBC behind a paywall, make it subscription only with a Netflix style £5.99 subscription, let it stand on it's own two feet."

          People get so bloody precious about the BBC being reliant on advertising, and that the TV License offers "good value for money". I don't doubt there are some gems on there, and you would wonder whether they would survive if the BBC went to a Netflix style model or equivalent.

          But, at the same time, we have an organisation that is far too aligned with the Government of the day for it to ever really be impartial. You only have to look at how Nigel Farage - somehow - has been on Question Time every other week and where Caroline Lucas from the Green Party - who have far more MP's in Parliament than UKIP - hardly ever gets on.

          Plus, don't forget the "UKTV" network which is under the BBC. They don't mind advertising, do they?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

            Add to that, The Graham Norton Show is made by So Television Productions, which is owned by ITV Studios, so Norton's Salary for The Graham Norton Show wasn't anywhere to be seen on the "Talent Salary list" (where Norton was included, it was for his Radio/other BBC (made by and produced by the BBC) TV work.

            Both ITV and Norton are creaming it off the BBC like a leaking bucket, while the key BBC staff don't get a pay rise or are on unpaid internships.

            The Graham Norton Show is a paid infomercial in all but name, it's not what the BBC should be paying external companies for in terms of content, more surprised it doesn't fall foul of product placement rules.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Watching ITV

        They are obviously big fans of Ant and Dec and possibly Will.I.Am.

        Personally, I rarely watch anything on ITV except Vera and sometimes Lethal Weapon.

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

      "There has never been a TV aerial entering the property, but if you are thinking of doing the same, best to remove it."

      I was going to erect a new one, just for the shiz and giggles, see what happens.

      If it means Crapita have to send someone around, waste a bit more of their time, why not? I get bored easily.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

        "If it means Crapita have to send someone around, waste a bit more of their time, why not? I get bored easily."

        I'd say it'd help make them go bump quicker too.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have a polite dialogue with the BBC.

      "They seem to be paying MORI in these situations where a customer is amenable/cooperative "pre-emptive", to carry out a "media survey" or a general survey with a media bias, as MORI like to state, and reading the blurb, these surveys can be "targeted at individuals"."

      I had EXACTLY that happen to us a couple of months ago...someone turned up and asked about completing a survey (with the obvious "carrot" of being entered into a "draw" to win some piece of tech).

      I had great fun in telling them that, sadly, due to our work, I and my partner didn't have time to watch any live TV or to even buy national newspapers...our children have grown up and moved away and if anything we watch DVD's now, rather than the dross which seems to be on TV (and as we don't watch it, I don't know for sure ;-) )

      So, I'm not surprised to hear that the BBC *might* be using alternative means to try and find out if any specific, unlicensed addresses may be watching live or catch up TV.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV license exemption

    Just to correct the article, if you own a TV, doesn't mean you have to pay a TV license. I haven't watched TV in over 10 years nor do I intend to, have visits over the years and when I show them my TV is merely for watching neflix connected via a PS4, they nod and never return.

    http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/easy-read/why-you-need-a-tv-licence-ea25

  7. Cronus

    Paying for a license is optional

    The only TV I own is an old fashioned CRT monitor that can't receive live TV without at least a freeview box that I use to play retro console games (bought it mainly so I could use the old light guns)

    I don't watch live TV of any kind and especially not the BBC and I never will. Those who find the content worth watching can of course pay the license whilst grumbling about it. I chose to vote with my wallet.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Paying for a license is optional

      Of course some of us are happy to pay it.

      Of all the taxes in life at least I get some things back out the Beeb...

      1. NLCSGRV

        Re: Paying for a license is optional

        "Of course some of us are happy to pay it."

        Then make it a subscription-only service and let those who are happy to pay for it do so, while leaving those who make use of the service alone. The BBC and other license-fee recipients are not a vital national service and as such don't deserve to be able to use this legalised extortion.

        1. Dabooka Silver badge

          Re: Paying for a license is optional

          @NLCSGRV

          I agree and have no problem with that, I was simply suggesting that not everyone grumbles about paying the licence fee.

          @DavCrav

          I was kind of being flippant, but your point is of course utterly valid.

          Chaps, I'm just trying to add a bit of balance to the argument. The story is about RIPA and Capita as much (if not more) than the licence fee, yet it always descends into the same old blah about how there's nothing of value on telly and it's an idiot tax; loads of comments about how TV isn't for them, it's all rubbish and the only reason they own a Sony Trinitron is to watch 8mm cine films captured into MP4 and stored on a NAS they access via an original X-Box that can't stream. Well that's not always the case and not everyone who watches TV is an idiot.

          Let the downvotes commence....

        2. A____B

          Re: Paying for a license is optional

          I'd gladly pay a subscription - but only if ALL channels asked for it.

          The BBC suffers because the costs are visible. We all pay for ITV, C4, C5... but the costs are hidden.

          Unless the commercial stations are operated by a benevolent cash fairy, they will need an income to pay for staff and equipment; this comes from advertisers. Again, unless the advertisers work for free, their 'creative genius' needs to be paid for (plus 'production' costs for their masterpieces); this comes from the people whose product is advertised. They in turn will need to get money to cover these costs - and this comes from the customers - you and me.

          Remember when you watch a programme and see adverts from Tesco, Sainsbury's, insurance companies... when you do your shopping a part of the bill is going to subsidise commercial channels whether you watch them or not.

          On the whole, I like the BBC model - at least they don't have to shy away from topics for fear of offending powerful companies and their advertising budget and they can steer away from lowest common denominator mass audiences for ratings.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Paying for a license is optional

        "Of all the taxes in life at least I get some things back out the Beeb..."

        Yes, those hospitals, schools and roads are useful too though.

  8. Stuart 22

    "It's an offence to own a TV that is cable of picking up a TV signal with no licence. You could be using that TV to watch old DVDs, Bluray or VHS or just for at games consoles. As long as you have no internet and no TV aerial you can still own the TV without a licence."

    In the shadow of Crystal Palace you got better TV reception without an aerial than with in the old analogue days. Sadly since we went digital you need an aerial but then that appears to overload our TVs. As for mobile reception - don't get me started ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "you need an aerial but then that appears to overload our TVs"

      I had a similar problem with my 8 way TV distribution amplifier. Last year when the trees lost their leaves I started getting picture break up on a couple of the TV's. It turned out that the signal strength was too high. Rather then putting in attenuators I replaced the distribution amplifier with a passive splitter and now all the TV's have a great picture.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I would have just planted more trees but each to their own.

  9. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Some follow-up questions to ask...

    So if Capita can authorise themselves to use RIPA powers, which powers are they actually using?

    Interception of communications? Do they spy on suspects emails, letters and telephone calls hoping to catch people discussing the events in Eastenders?

    Intrusive surveillance? Do they mount cameras peering into peoples homes? Or do they mount cameras inside people's homes hoping to catch them watching televisions? Do they keep statistics on houses watched? E.g. do they only monitor suspect houses with teenage girls resident? Because... pervs?

    Covert Human Intelligence Sources? Do they send a bloke down the pub to befriend you and trick you into revealing that you watched telly last night?

    So many questions, so many inadequate answers from Capita, the BBC and the regulator.

    1. Solarflare

      Re: Some follow-up questions to ask...

      I was wondering that on emyself. Can I authorise myself to read through government systems to make sure they aren't doing anything dodgy? I would assume not. Why can a private company (even one so beloved by government outsourcing) authorise itself to do anything like this?

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: Some follow-up questions to ask...

        I assume that Capita is acting on behalf of the BBC, and that they're specifically called out (alongside councils, health authorities, police whatsits and the like) as a group that's permitted to use certain powers.

        That doesn't answer which powers the Beeb can use, but it would be why you can't invoke RIPA to tap your neighbour's phoneline.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some follow-up questions to ask...

      "Intrusive surveillance? Do they mount cameras peering into peoples homes? Or do they mount cameras inside people's homes hoping to catch them watching televisions? Do they keep statistics on houses watched?"

      Without getting paranoid about it, I am pretty sure that at my previous address, there was (I think) an attempt at surveillance.

      I was leaving the building one morning and a well dressed, suited gentleman was attempting to gain entry to our building..but as everyone was out, no-one let him in, via the entry phone system. He was attempting to deliver a slim package to my next door neighbour, with whom I share a common wall between our respective dwellings, which just happens to be the sitting room.

      There was no need for me to provide a signature and the package had no return address on it. So I was able to take the package from him and he then left - in a very smart, recent reg, Range Rover (who's number plate I jotted down "just in case").

      So, I popped this into my neighbours mailbox and went to work.

      I did a couple of check and indeed the registration number was very similar to others that perhaps are related to certain organisations - use Google "image" search and see what I mean when you type in a vehicle reg number...

      I suspect my neighbour might have been asked "to help them with their investigations"...as there are some really nice "audio detectors, fitted with a SIM card slot" which allows someone to "call in" to the device and listen for any sounds that might be coming through the party wall.

      Given that I only have a TV for watching Amazon Prime, Netflix and DVD's (and at the time when it was bought, large "monitor" flat screens, which have no analogue or digital tuners were not easily available or reasonably priced) so I doubt I need a license....but I took the liberty of disconnecting and then blanking off the TV aerial socket, in case I received a visit.

      Of course, nowadays, with almost everyone having a fast-ish internet connection, and network connected Blu-Ray player (as mine is) and HDMI ports on TV's, so I could be "done" on the basis that my tech *could* allow me to watch BBC iPlayer....even if I don't.

  10. Daniel Snowden

    Snail mail trolling of Crapita

    Maybe we should get James Veitch to reply to some of the TV Licensing nastygrams for the purpose of trolling them - he is rather good at that sort of thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Snail mail trolling of Crapita

      James Veitch of Email Spam TED Talk fame? We were next door neighbours for a few months last year and he tells me is currently working on a TV License People piece... keep an eye on his YouTube channel :-)

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Snail mail trolling of Crapita

        He's always reminded me of a book I was given:

        Delete This at Your Peril: The Bob Servant Emails

        I wonder if he read that.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Instead they told us

    ask again. And then about twice more, then apply under freedom of information.

  12. MJI Silver badge

    Can be difficult

    If you like the BBC but hate Crapita.

  13. Jove Bronze badge

    There is no justification of for the BBC TV license and is an obscenity in the modern age.

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I just wish they'd leave me alone

    I've lost count of how many times over the years I've told them NO. What grounds do they have for thinking the situation has changed?

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: I just wish they'd leave me alone

      > I've lost count of how many times over the years I've told them NO. What grounds do they have for thinking the situation has changed?

      Send an FOIA request to the BBC asking them how many times you've told them 'no'. :-)

  15. John70

    How about reduce presenters/actors wages to a maximum of £60k and drop the cost of a TV Licence...

    After all do you think Chris Evans is worth £2million?

  16. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Yes, we watch TV. Even the BBC.

    And we're honest enough to admit it. And sometimes we even buy products that advertise on TV.

    The operative word in that paragraph is "honest." As far as I can tell the phrase "I never watch TV" is code for "I torrent lots of crappy American sitcoms, so I'm cool."

    In all honesty you people complaining about the BBC or Channel 4 have no concept of how good they are compared to the wasteland that is North American TV. For every "Sopranos" there are literally a thousand shows like "The Bachelor" and "Peoples' Court." And of course Fox News.

    We happily pay for a VPN to watch the BBC from Canada (as well as the excellent BFI player) and would probably even buy a TV licence if they would let us.

    1. pauhit

      Re: Yes, we watch TV. Even the BBC.

      Modern American TV is the best thing to happen to the US. With nothing nothing on, ever, there is never any reason to sit down and watch tv, and am more productive as a result.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Claverhouse Bronze badge

      Re: Yes, we watch TV. Even the BBC.

      Re: Yes, we watch TV. Even the BBC.

      @Barry Rueger

      The operative word in that paragraph is "honest." As far as I can tell the phrase "I never watch TV" is code for "I torrent lots of crappy American sitcoms, so I'm cool."

      Not well thought out, since people who say they never watch TV would generally either not watch anything at all --- such do exist --- or refer exclusively to broadcast TV, properly excluding use of recorded material such as VHS or DVD etc..

      And in some cases they might do that precisely to avoid paying the broadcast tax --- and not give a fuck about poor starving producers, directors, marketing people et al..

      [ It's kinda difficult to feel sorry for the financial woes of people in the BBC and say, C4, who abet the government's assault on the Welfare State, now having the chance to feel good about not taking state aid themselves and passing peacefully to that Great Beyond. ]

  17. Sam Therapy
    Thumb Down

    "Evading the BBC TV licence is a criminal offence for anyone who uses a television..."

    Nope. If you don't watch any live-to-air broadcasts, restrict your viewing to subscription services such as Netflix, or watch DVDs, you don't need one.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Sam Therapy

      It's fixed - by "uses a television," we meant watching live telly.

      C.

      1. Sam Therapy

        Re: Sam Therapy

        Right you are. :)

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I don't mind paying a fee for ad free telly, It annoyed me when i had Sky that you paid a subscription and yet you still had to sit through adverts, often more frequent ad breaks that you had on free to view commercial channels.

    There are some shows that I enjoy watching that would probably get axed if the BBC were to go commercial. Shows like Spring/Autumn watch would probably never survive in a world where the ad men dictate what programs are commissioned.

  19. scrubber

    Subsidy

    Why are TV viewers, who are poorer than BBC radio listeners, forced to subsidise them?

    1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

      Re: Subsidy

      Radio is relatively cheap to produce and broadcast.

      1. scrubber

        Re: Subsidy

        "Radio is relatively cheap"

        £670m is not cheap. In fact it's more than Channel 4 spend and three times Channel 5's annual programming budget. It's even more than the BBC spend on BBC2!

  20. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

    £150.50 seems like a lot just for over the air TV, and even then only 4 channels. Here in Canada all over the air signals are free (in fact it is illegal to charge for over the air TV or radio). Because I like downtown in the largest city in Canada I get 17 channels, which are a mix of domestic and US. Although I rarely watch them. Obviously, it's mostly ad-supported (except for a few "member supported" channels) but I can definitely see why you guys wouldn't want to pay £150.50 A YEAR for the BBC. That's more than Netflix!

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Well on that basis...

      But it's a lot more than just 4 channels so your comparison isn't really fair. And Netflix et al rely on an internet connection remember, factor that cost in too

    2. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Of course you're already funding the CBC to the tune of a little bit less than $50 each year, so it's not "free." There has been a suggestion that CBC TV drop advertising, which would increase that funding. On average, government funding of public broadcasting in western democracies is around $80 per citizen per year.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Because I like downtown in the largest city in Canada I get 17 channels,"

      Is that all? Pretty much the entire UK gets access to a lot more "free to air" than that via terrestrial digital or, for those areas not covered due to remoteness or signal blocking obstacles, via FreeSat.

      (Ok, yes, it's not actually "free" in that the licence is required, but way more than 17 channels, even so, but then the Canadian "TV licence fee" is paid by everyone, TV owners or not, out of general taxation, but does work out cheaper.)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why the BBC Sucks

    Snooker is being shown by an increasing number of channels. That is a good thing. Yet the BBC who have the rights to show The Welsh Open only show it to the Welsh. They have been doing it for years. This is racism. They have content that all the TVL payers have paid for yet refuse to show it to those people. Then they cry that people don't want to give them money. Any other organisation that was in the business of providing a service for money would not hide content as it would cost them money. Because the BBC get paid regardless, the racist moves continue. Welsh Snooker is only for the Welsh and all the presenters have to be Welsh. Fuck the BBC. The sooner they fold the better.

  22. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Magical Detector Vans

    In the six years I lived in the UK during the late 90's/early naughties (the era of CRT televisions that supposedly could be easily detected) I was visited three times being told that I had an unlicensed TV that had been "detected". This was amusing as I had no TV, finding British television earnest but tedious. And it happened at three different locations (due to my tendency to move apartments once the council tax people had started to get stoppy).

    It's as science based as homeoathy or astrology.

    1. MrZoolook

      Re: Magical Detector Vans

      "due to my tendency to move apartments once the council tax people had started to get stoppy"

      You mean you evaded paying council tax?

      Two minor points.

      1. Why the fuck should everyone else pay for services you undoubtedly used, and yet you think you shouldn't have to?

      2. Now you have revealed yourself as a tax dodger, much like the corporations who eventually get a 90% discount on unpaid tax, your story seems somewhat less than credible.

      1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

        Re: Magical Detector Vans

        Yes I did. I evaded council tax, tv licensing, speeding fines, parking fines and a great many other such things. And I don't feel in the least bit bad about it either. I also pumped several hundred thousand pounds into the British economy becasue I sure as hell didn't bring more than $20 back with me.

        But I'm not sure quite how that makes the TV detector vans any more credible or my story any less credible - magical thinking maybe? Perhaps they detected me by homeopathic techniques with molecules of TV broadcasts being found on me? Or by astrology as they could tell from my star sign that the Sun was about to move into Uranus because I bought some soothing creams.

  23. Vetis

    Capita having access to RIPA powers is obscene but this has been abused by every agency to access it so far I believe.

    BBC is £ 150 a year, netflix is £95.88. Amazon Prime is the same so combined are £191.76. So 12 a month vs 15.

    Compare everything on netflix and amazon to the garbage the bbc puts out. half a day of light entertainment, hours on end of the same news, a cop show. In addition you would get amazon music, free delivery, a free twitch sub (worth £43 a year in itself if you sub to someone on twitch), prime reading\kindle. I know which I prefer. £3 extra is a bargain.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      I've not used Amazon Prime, but Netflix is shite. There's not enough content to keep me interested with a years worth of subscription. The month gift subscription was more than long enough to see all I wanted to see. All they do is pick the cream of what they can find, mix on a lot of skimmed milk to bulk it out.

      Every content producer makes some gems and, to many peoples minds, lots of dross, although who thinks what is a gem and what is dross doesn't always overlap. The likes of Netflix don't produce much, though are starting to, they just use their buying power to put what they think is the best of the best all in one place so it appears they are better than the rest. Most of what Netflix have in their UK accessible library has already been broadcast elsewhere.

  24. Gerry 3
    Stop

    You can easily STOP the nastygrams !

    @ Will Godfrey

    I didn't have a TV and just ignored the fortnightly nastygrams, letting them build up into a pile about two feet high. They became ever nastier, with pictures of courtrooms etc, and were sometimes disguised to look like bank PIN notifications or payslips.

    On principle, I still kept ignoring them.

    It might have been different if they had politely asked me to confirm that I didn't need a licence, explaining that there was no obligation whatsoever to respond, but they'd be eternally grateful if I would just return the enclosed post-paid declaration form: I might well have done so.

    Eventually the goons started to send their nastygrams by Registered mail. As I was always at work when the postman called, that necessitated an unnecessary trip to the Head Post Office the following Saturday. It would have been tempting to keep ignoring them, but there was always the risk that one of them might be something I wanted (e.g. a bank card) or something I didn't want but needed to know about (e.g. a speed camera ticket).

    Enough was enough, so many years ago I sent a letter withdrawing their Implied Right of Access (signed as The Occupier). For good measure I also stated that I was fully aware of the penalties for watching live TV without a licence so there was no justification for reminding me every fortnight and, as they could no longer send the boys round, continuing to send scary letters threatening to do so would be an offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

    Result: they confirmed they would never bother me again - and they haven't !

  25. Hunterman

    Ex-BBC reporter makes it into IT journalism

    " ... a myth which other grown-ups implausibly continue to play along with."

    A split infinitive as well as ending a sentence with a preposition. Yet again, an example of modern-day multimedia journalism descending to new depths of grammatical ineptitude.

    I expect we shall see future reports from El Reg scribes to be peppered with further indications of thirty-plus years of declining standards in teaching English such as the new-age glottal stop - "like".

    1. MrZoolook

      Re: Ex-BBC reporter makes it into IT journalism

      Glottal Stop... I had to see a doctor about that!

  26. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Make the letters stop....

    Though thinking about it, what will I use to light my fire?

    After four phonecalla, six emails to the Crapita team tasked with dealing with it, they refuse to acknowledge that my other house, which was a bit of a building site for a while, is unoccupied, and has no television of any sort.

    So, the letters keep coming.

    I take them to my new home and use them when I light the fire.

    I'd have to buy a newspaper if they stop, and I have difficulty grasping the concept to paying for biassed reporting whatever side.

    We don't get free papers out here in the sticks, and with no current Foot & Mouth outbreaks, there are no sheep to burn either.

    Deep joy.

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