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snopes 21 September 2009 05:03 PM

TV licence dodgers' bizarre excuses
 
TV licence dodgers have used a host of ridiculous excuses to try to avoid paying including one pet owner who claimed he only had a set so his dog could watch television.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/t...og-not-me.html

llewtrah 21 September 2009 06:48 PM

The excuses are inventive, but TV Licensing have a bad record for persecuting households for licences even when the household has already paid (people with different surnames) or when the household has no means of receiving TV (they idea of a totally TV-less house - no set or PC TV card, no aerial/cable/satellite - is foreign to them).

Way, way back in a previous home, Person A bought the TV (and that was the name sent by the store to TV Licensing), but Person B paid the licence. Our surnames were different (as with many cohabitees), but the address was the same. TV Licensing kept threatening the household for not paying a licence fee.

When I got fed up of explaining this (I even sent photocopies of the licence showing the address and indicating it was a different surname), I wrote back that they could certainly come and visit and threaten us on our own doorstep, but it was to be by prior arrangement so I could have the press in attendance and a solicitor present to press charges for harassment because we had a valid TV licence. All of a sudden, TV Licensing managed to find records that the household did indeed have a valid TV licence.

CenTex 21 September 2009 07:10 PM

I really hate to sound USA-centric, but what the heck is a TV licence?

jw 21 September 2009 07:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CenTex (Post 1052863)
I really hate to sound USA-centric, but what the heck is a TV licence?

Exactly what it says on the tin. A licence to have a TV. Ours is €155 per year.
ETA: Not quite. Every household must have one.

Beejtronic 21 September 2009 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jw (Post 1052865)
Exactly what it says on the tin. A licence to have a TV. Ours is 155 per year.
ETA: Not quite. Every household must have one.

To add to this, it's basically a yearly fee that one has to pay in order to get basic cable channels. (I believe we had BBC 1, 2 and 4 and ITV 4. Or something.) AFAIK, the money goes to the cable stations. In turn, those basic cable channels have few, if any adverts. (Usually only for their own programs.)

llewtrah 21 September 2009 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beejtronic (Post 1052880)
To add to this, it's basically a yearly fee that one has to pay in order to get basic cable channels. (I believe we had BBC 1, 2 and 4 and ITV 4. Or something.) AFAIK, the money goes to the cable stations. In turn, those basic cable channels have few, if any adverts. (Usually only for their own programs.)

The TV licence is for BBC1 and BBC2 terrestrial channels. ITV and Channel 4 are funded by advertising. The much newer BBC 3 & 4 are only available on cable, satellite and freeview. The problem is, even if you never watched the BBC terrestrial channels, you still had to pay the licence fee that funds BBC simply because you had a TV set and aerial capable of receiving them!

Beejtronic 21 September 2009 08:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llewtrah (Post 1052943)
The TV licence is for BBC1 and BBC2 terrestrial channels. ITV and Channel 4 are funded by advertising. The much newer BBC 3 & 4 are only available on cable, satellite and freeview. The problem is, even if you never watched the BBC terrestrial channels, you still had to pay the licence fee that funds BBC simply because you had a TV set and aerial capable of receiving them!

We definitely had BBC4 and one of the ITV channels, but then I didn't pay the license myself, so I don't really know the ins and outs of how they worked. Our reception on BBC1 was so bad we usually just ended up watching everything on the iPlayer.

Now that I've mentioned it, do you need a license to watch the iPlayer? Are they even capable of policing whether you're using it?

AnglRdr 21 September 2009 08:58 PM

Here's an idea, but I don't know if it would work, so bear with me: how about asking cable/satellite companies to collect the license fee and then turn it over to the government?

I don't know what cable/satellite subscription density is in the UK, so it might not work, unless it is at a rate similar to the US. Which, now that I think of it, I don't actually know. So I could just be barking up the wrong tree.

jw 21 September 2009 09:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llewtrah (Post 1052943)
The TV licence is for BBC1 and BBC2 terrestrial channels. ITV and Channel 4 are funded by advertising.

To those in the US who are unfamiliar with BBC. There are no adverts! At least, no commercial ones. The only adverts are for other BBC programmes.
I've yet to see better TV channels, anywhere.

For our licence fee in Ireland, we get RTE and its entrails which doesn't have the benefit of advert free channels like the BBC, economy of scale and all that. However, we do get some programming that probably wouldn't make commercial sense. We also have a couple of independent channels that are funded solely by advertising. But best of all, because of our proximity to Britain, with the right equipment we can view all their channels for FREE.

Simply Madeline 21 September 2009 09:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnglRdr (Post 1052962)
Here's an idea, but I don't know if it would work, so bear with me: how about asking cable/satellite companies to collect the license fee and then turn it over to the government?

You pay the fee even if you don't have cable. If the US had a license fee, you would pay it to get ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, PBS, and whatever local stations are in your area. Also, there would be no commercials on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc.

AnglRdr 21 September 2009 09:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Simply Madeline (Post 1052983)
You pay the fee even if you don't have cable.

Oh no, I understand that--my thought was that if cable/satellite subscription density was as deep there as I was WAGging it was in the US (about 80%), it would provide a very efficient means for the government to collect it and users to pay it.

But obviously, it doesn't solve the problem of the other 20%.

BringTheNoise 21 September 2009 09:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnglRdr (Post 1052962)
Here's an idea, but I don't know if it would work, so bear with me: how about asking cable/satellite companies to collect the license fee and then turn it over to the government?

I don't know what cable/satellite subscription density is in the UK, so it might not work, unless it is at a rate similar to the US. Which, now that I think of it, I don't actually know. So I could just be barking up the wrong tree.

Wouldn't work, especially with Freeview now offering a number of the same channels available from cable/satellite without the subscription.

ETA: My own WAG would put penetration at somewhere between 30 - 40%.

AnglRdr 21 September 2009 09:48 PM

Curses! Look I won't be taking over the UK this week.

Tarquin Farquart 21 September 2009 09:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llewtrah (Post 1052943)
Channel 4 are funded by advertising

Channel 4 actually gets some of of the licence fee money.

jw 21 September 2009 10:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BringTheNoise (Post 1053007)
Wouldn't work, especially with Freeview now offering a number of the same channels available from cable/satellite without the subscription.
ETA: My own WAG would put penetration at somewhere between 30 - 40%.

What does 9,442,000 customers amount to?

Your Freeview boxes have been going down a treat over here. I watched BBC Scotland's transatlantic sessions last night. Hitherto, whenever we got BBC or the Independent channels we got the NI versions or in some parts of Wexford, the Welsh versions. I can now watch all the regional variations, if I wish.

Victoria J 21 September 2009 10:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by llewtrah (Post 1052844)
The excuses are inventive, but TV Licensing have a bad record for persecuting households for licences even when the household has already paid (people with different surnames) or when the household has no means of receiving TV (they idea of a totally TV-less house - no set or PC TV card, no aerial/cable/satellite - is foreign to them).

Way, way back in a previous home, Person A bought the TV (and that was the name sent by the store to TV Licensing), but Person B paid the licence. Our surnames were different (as with many cohabitees), but the address was the same. TV Licensing kept threatening the household for not paying a licence fee.

They persecuted my mother for months because they wouldn't accept that "flat A [housenumber]" was the same as "[housenumber] A".

The sen me lots of threatening letters. I have no working TV. The only time they actually got hold of me at the door they were OK. But the letters keep coming.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beejtronic (Post 1052955)
Now that I've mentioned it, do you need a license to watch the iPlayer? Are they even capable of policing whether you're using it?

You need a license if you watch live TV via the internet (not sure the BBC does it, but ITV does and oddly that would then mean you needed a license). You do not need a license to watch the on demand internet services.

The BBC have recently become somewhat unhappy about this.

I'm not sure how many people actually switched in this way. I watch only the IPlayer etc, but I (a) just couldn't be bothered to fix my broken TV, and (b) hadn't had a license anyway.

It's a criminal record and a fine (up to 1000 I think) if you get caught. Despite all their talk about detector vans and hi tech gadgets I've seen at least 20 or 30 people who've been prosecuted and on every occassion it was because they opened the door and spoke to the inspector.

It's a bit controversial too as you are more likely to be caught if you live in a poor area (because they spend more time in areas with high concentrations of housing and non-compliance). They also (in my personal experience) have a habit of getting very nice fullsome statements from people who don't speak English (and sometimes don't have TVs).

Victoria J

Andrew of Ware 21 September 2009 10:25 PM

Although the BBC gets the majority of the licence fee, Channel Four, Channel Five and, now ITV (to pay for its regional news programmes to be improved) all get a share. The money is not all for BBC television programmes. A lot of it goes towards its website, iPlayer (on which you can watch the vast majority of BBC programmes for free), public service broadcasting (BBC Parliament, etc), radio stations and so on. The BBC must also use the money to finance the change over to digital.

Without the licence fee the BBC could not produce its high quality drama and documentary programmes. Without it the BBC would have to produce endless soap operas, reality programmes, cheap game shows and have foreign imports like most other channels in the country. Oh - and it would also have to have adverts!

BringTheNoise 21 September 2009 10:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jw (Post 1053030)

That's under 20% but that does exclude cable services such as Virgin Media.

MidgardDragon 21 September 2009 11:13 PM

Hmm, 155 pounds (whatever that is in USD) a year, or putting up with 15 minutes of adverts (or just deciding to illegally download online)....hmm. I'll put up with the adverts. I find it fascinating how offended some people are by the mere idea that they have to see something trying to sell them something these days. Not even all that long ago (i.e. when I was a kid) it was just a normal day-to-day thing that no one even thought about. Don't get me wrong, there's the annoying kind (pop ups and unders online, view-obscuring banners on TV), but a few minutes of the regular old advert (some of which can be quite funny at times) isn't gonna kill me. Not to say that I believe everyone in the UK is happy to pay their license for the simple lack of advertisements, but the fact that this is a "selling point" to get people to pay for them baffles the mind.

Mr. Furious 21 September 2009 11:19 PM

That's very interesting, I'd long assumed that all the money went to Auntie Beeb. But heck, I'd gladly pay that fee to get programming of the quality produced by the BBC. I should note that I don't say that to disparage the quality of American broadcast television, either; I'd happily pay the same license fee (or even a fee with a premium attached) if I had access to the real BBC. BBC America, sadly, is nearly useless to me.


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