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TV Licensing (again)

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The New York Times article has lead me to have a number of conversations with people about the whole business. The most common question I've been asked is "why don't you just let them into your house?". It's a good question.

I think the answer, for me at least, is that I object to the implication behind the request. That when they ask me if I've got a television and I reply "no" they simply don't believe me. That's the essence of it. I find that rude and objectionable. I also take offence to the idea of someone I don't know wandering around our home. Our home is our private space, for us and our guests, not for some tattoed low life (judging by reports I've read of visits by officers) to wander around.

If you look at the rationale behind the letters, the threats to search, and the visits by officers it's clear that it's largely a deliberate attempt to bully anyone who does have a TV and no licence into getting one. Which would be fine, except for the collateral damage. TV Licensing themselves say that 50% of people who claim to have no TV have one. That's their justification for the campaign of harassment they subject us to. But that means 50% of us who claim to have no TV genuinely don't have one. That's really not on.

I'd also urge you to read Erika Sigvallius' memorandum to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. I can't disagree with anything she has to say in that - it seems very sensible and well written.

In closing I should mention the idea my friend Bart came up with. He says the deal I should offer is that they can search our house. If they find a TV we pay the £1000 fine ... however if they don't find a TV they pay us £1000. He observed that as 50% of people who claim to have no licence do and 50% don't then this should be revenue neutral to TV Licencing. Do you think they'd fall for it?

Tags: tv Written 05/01/05

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