It is a question on a number of online platforms relating to the receipt of threatening letters from TV Licensing.
The letter states that your property has been scheduled for a visit by an enforcement officer who has the right to interview you under caution and apply for a search warrant to check that you are not using a television set or downloading or watching any programmes on BBCiPlayer.
The letter (below) is signed by Scot Robson. He lists his title and area as Cardiff but observers online have noted that the mysterious Scot Robson sends letters signed suggesting that he covers most of England, Ireland and Wales. Some have asked if he is a real person.
According to one watchdog site the BBC TV Licensing sends out nearly 30 million of these letters per year. There are claims that the BBC is responsible for 4 million doorstep visits per year.
Observers point out that TV encryption technology that would allow the BBC to raise revenue without letters and visits has existed since at least the 1980’s.
There is an assumption that you have a license or that you need a license. There is no other option available.
You can let the TV Licensing know you don’t need a license but you would have to do this every two years. That does not ensure they don’t send anyone out to visit your home.
Thousands are prosecuted each year for not paying for a TV License. Research has found that many prosecuted are elderly and or women. 72-year-old Ms Jean Salt fell ill and fell behind on paying for her TV License by instalments. Capita acting on behalf of the BBC took her to court and she was convicted in her absence and fined £604, including a £44 victim surcharge.
In 2020 alone, 52,376 were similarly penalised, and that figure was much lower due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The figures show that the majority of those convicted are women about three quarters and evasion was the most common offence for which women were convicted in 2019, according to the Ministry of Justice, accounting for 30 percent of all female convictions in England and Wales.
One does wonder why when we are told that detector vans are able to discover whether we are watching Coronation Street on a wet Wednesday in Widnes why there is a need to send such threatening letters.
We also have a fleet of detector vans that can detect the use of TV receiving equipment at specifically targeted addresses within minutes.
A final word of caution from a TV-less News HQ.
Detection and penalties
Not covered by a TV Licence? You are breaking the law if you:
watch or record TV on any channel via any TV service (e.g. Sky, Virgin, Freeview, Freesat)
watch live on streaming services (e.g. ITVX, Channel 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now, Sky Go)
use BBC iPlayer*.
This applies to any device, including a TV, computer, laptop, phone, tablet, games console or digital box.
*A licence is not needed to watch S4C programmes on demand.
You could be prosecuted if we find that you have been watching, recording or downloading programmes illegally. The maximum penalty is a £1,000* fine plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.
*The maximum fine is £2,000 in Guernsey.
A standard TV Licence costs £159 and a black and white licence costs £53.50.