Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Saturday, 4 February 2017

National Audit Office TV Licence Review Evidence

In August 2016 the media went into a frenzy when the National Audit Office published a report claiming that TV Licensing had the technology to detect online viewers without a valid TV licence.

Many commentators seized on the idea that the BBC had somehow developed technology that allowed it to "sniff" the packets of data being delivered to people's wireless networks.

Even if the BBC did possess such magical technology, the evidence gathered would in no way prove that an offence was being committed at the property where the wireless network was installed.

The BBC provided evidence to the National Audit Office to support its claims that unlicensed online viewers had been prosecuted in the same manner as those viewing unlicensed by conventional means.

Yesterday, in its response to a Freedom of Information request placed by WhatDoTheyKnow.com user Mr I. Hillas, the National Audit Office released some of the evidence the BBC had provided to help it prepare its report.

In particular, the BBC provided a paper trail of evidence demonstrating how a Polish immigrant convicted of TV licence evasion was "brought to justice".

The gentleman in question had been convicted of viewing a Polish TV channel online, but in common with every other TV Licensing conviction the case hinged on only one piece of evidence - the word of a goon that had visited his property. No packet sniffing, no data interception, no secretive surveillance - the conviction boiled down to claims made by a commission chasing Crapita foot soldier.

Having studied this case in detail, we again have serious concerns about the quality of evidence gathered by TV Licensing. There are glaring contradictions in TV Licensing's evidence, which any defence lawyer would have spotted and discredited within seconds.

According to the completed TVL178 form the goon claimed he was refused entry and did not see or hear any TV programmes, yet on the other hand he claimed to have inspected the Polish gentleman's Apple laptop and found evidence of Polish TV channels. Those two claims directly contradict each other. 

Unfortunately the charges were "proven" in the absence of any plea by the defendant - in other words the court simply accepted TV Licensing's claim, highly implausible as that may have been, that an offence had been committed in the manner described.

Further evidence, as if any were needed, of the importance of defending any charges of TV licence evasion in court. Quite often TV Licensing's evidence just doesn't pass muster.

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Six Nations Rugby TV Licence Requirements

For the first time in living memory the scaremongering PR harlots at TV Licensing have not issued threats specifically targeted at Six Nations rugby fans.

Virtually every year some of TV Licensing's scummiest mouthpieces (think bald heads and buck teeth) fill the papers with tripe about £1,000 fines for anyone caught enjoying the rugby without a valid TV licence. For some reason it hasn't happened this year.

Anyone wishing to watch the games "live", at the time they are broadcast on any TV channel, should be correctly licensed to do so. However, there are a multitude of legal ways of enjoying your favourite Six Nations coverage without stumping up £145.50 to the blind-eye turning BBC.

Here are a few ways to enjoy the Six Nations without a TV licence:

1. Watch it non-live via an on demand service: You do not need a licence to enjoy previously broadcast non-live coverage via on demand services like the ITV Hub, All 4, My5 (the on-demand service, not the TV channel) or YouTube. Please note that a TV licence is now required to watch on demand BBC iPlayer content.

2. Watch live at a friend's place: If they've got a TV licence you could go and watch their telly instead. If you didn't want to impose you could take your laptop around and stream live TV via their broadband connection.

3. Watch live at the pub/club: I'm reliably informed by student friends that you can nurture a soft drink for at least two hours if you sip it slowly. That's just enough time to watch the game.

4. Watch live at your local electrical retailer: Electrical retailers do not need a TV licence for their display sets. If you're a bit of a cheapskate you could visit Currys and watch the best events there.

5. Become a TV engineer: If you're a TV fixer upper then you do not need a TV licence to test equipment you're working on.

We don't condone anyone taking a chance by watching the Six Nations without a valid TV licence. That said, we're so not bothered if anyone chooses to do just that!

The 2017 Six Nations schedule is as follows:

Round 1:
  • Scotland v Ireland at BT Murrayfield StadiumEdinburgh 
  • England v France at Twickenham StadiumLondon 
  • Italy v Wales at Stadio OlimpicoRome 
Round 2:
  • Italy v Ireland at Stadio OlimpicoRome 
  • Wales v England at Principality StadiumCardiff 
  • France v Scotland at Stade de FranceParis 
Round 3:
  • Scotland v Wales at BT Murrayfield StadiumEdinburgh 
  • Ireland v France at Aviva StadiumDublin 
  • England v Italy at Twickenham StadiumLondon 
Round 4:
  • Wales v Ireland at Principality StadiumCardiff 
  • Italy v France at Stadio OlimpicoRome 
  • England v Scotland at Twickenham StadiumLondon 
Round 5:
  • Scotland v Italy at BT Murrayfield StadiumEdinburgh 
  • France v Wales at Stade de FranceParis 
  • Ireland v England at Aviva StadiumDublin 
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Magistrates Review TV Licence Evasion Sentencing Guidelines

Criminal damage, theft, possession of drugs and TV licence evasion.

Can you spot the odd one out?

Given the subject of the TV Licensing Blog it's bound to be TV licence evasion, but do you know the reason why?

Well done if you spotted that the first three offences are commonly dealt with by way of a conditional discharge. For whatever reason the judiciary deems TV licence evasion, an offence with no victim whatsoever, more punishable than the likes of criminal damage and assault, where the victim is quite evident.

Great news earlier this week that the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guidelines, which advise Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales how to pass sentence, will be updated in April to include the option of imposing a conditional discharge on anyone convicted of TV licence evasion.

Currently anyone convicted of TV licence evasion faces a fine of around half their relevant weekly income, which normally equates to somewhere in the region of £100. Repeat or long term offenders face a greater fine, but even then it is unlikely to be more than about £200. The theoretical maximum fine for TV licence evasion is £1,000, which TV Licensing mentions a lot for deterrent purposes.

In addition to the fine, the court normally orders the defendant to make a contribution towards TV Licensing's prosecution costs. TV Licensing makes an application for costs in every case, but the court can refuse or award a smaller sum.

From the end of April the minimum suggested penalty for TV licence evasion will be a conditional discharge. This penalty is likely to be used in the case of short term, first time or accidental offenders or those on low incomes.

Philip Davies, the plain speaking Conservative MP for Shipley, said: "There is a growing unhappiness about the licence fee and being forced to pay for something whether they want it or not."

He continued: "This is a further nail in the coffin of the licence fee, because the more it becomes unenforceable, the more the BBC will have to find another method of funding."

Andrew Bridgen, a fellow Conservative MP that campaigns against the TV licence fee, said: "If someone cannot afford to pay the £145.50 licence then they are highly unlikely to be in a position to pay a £1,000 fine. People are being criminalised where their only crime is being poor and this needs to stop."

The relaxation of penalties is a welcome move and one which the Magistrates' Association has been seeking for many years. With any luck it signifies a step closer to decriminalisation of this most trivial and unjust of offences.

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