Monday 2 March 2015

Dear Capita,

Thank you for your threatening letter suggesting that I am a criminal.

For the record, I am not.

Can I propose to you that in this day and age, when there are so many distractions, so much to do with one's time, the fact that a household does not use a television set should no longer be looked upon as so weird as to be probably untrue?

It is a fact that I had a television set for a brief period of time, after having not had one for many years. This was due to the fact that I had had surgery which had left me with severe nerve pain and restricted my ability to do the other things that I normally do to fill my life. 

I bought the tv set, paid for an aerial to be installed and took out a direct debit to pay my licence fee. 

I admit I found the whole idea of a licence fee to be ridiculous and anachronistic. It may have served well in the days of a BBC monopoly. It must have been less suitable once STV and Channels Four and Five arrived, but in the days of 100+ channels it is preposterous.

I found that I watched almost no BBC at all. In fact I watched tv very little, despite being indisposed, but when I did it was likely to be a channel that the BBC had no part in.

I didn't get my news from the BBC. That came far more conveniently and reliably on line where there was a choice of bias, instead of the British Establishment bias for which the BBC is now famed.

On a few occasions, I admit,  I would flick through channels in desperation looking for something that wasn't too unwatchable, almost invariably finding nothing.

Despite the fact that the tv sat largely redundant in the corner, it remained for a few years, attached to the aerial and I continued to allow you to take money from my account to fund your "activities". 

I am, after all, by and large, a law abiding Scottish citizen.

The crunch came for me during the Scottish Referendum campaign, where the BBC, predictably, took the side of the British Establishment against the Yes Campaign.

It didn't take academic studies to show that the BBC, the station I was paying for but not watching, was biased to a preposterous degree, although there were such studies. 

I decided at some point in July or August that I could no longer pay for a service that was, in my opinion, working against my best interests.

I emailed your organisation at that time and told you that I wished my licence fee to be discontinued and I explained why.

I received a polite reply telling me that my direct debit would be stopped and any monies due to me would be repaid, which they were. On that day I detached the tv set from the aerial and removed the coaxial cable from the room in which the tv set stands. (I still have a collection of DVDs which I occasionally watch.)

I was somewhat surprised then in December to have a letter from you telling me that my licence was due for renewal. Do you have no internal communications systems?

Since then I have been sent various "red" letters telling me that I can expect a visit for one of your enforcement people. 

This is my response to your threatening letters.

I hereby withdraw any implied right of access that you have to my property.

You are welcome to send one of your representatives, without any forewarning, but I warn you in advance that, given that you are a private profit making joint stock company and have no authority , you will NOT be allowed access to my house unless you provide me with the appropriate Scottish Court Order, and/or are accompanied by a member of Police Scotland with proper authority to search my premises. 

At that point, and only in these circumstances, will I offer you the opportunity to look at my television set, my computer, laptop and phone. 

I repeat that I expect no pre warning of your arrival, but remind you that you will require a search warrant granted and signed by (in Scotland) a Sheriff, which is only granted when you make a representation to the court, under oath, stating that you have real evidence that a television is being used

I am not the criminal you clearly take me for, and I will comply immediately to any action sanctioned by the Scottish legal system.

Other than than, please do not waste my time or your own with any further communications on this subject.

Yours sincerely



  1. When the enforcement officer visited my house, he told me that removal of the implied right of access was only valid in England. I have no idea if this is true or not, but he still didn't get in.

    I no longer watch or record live tv so I do not need a licence. I take offence that my word isn't good enough for the BBC or their agents, so he won't get in the next time either.

    1. Ah that's interesting John. Thanks. By and large they write the rules for England, so it could be. I don't really care to be honest. Maybe they don't even have an implied right here.

      I do know that they can't enter the house in Scotland without a Sheriff's warrant. And they can't get it without proof that a tv has been watched or recorded. As I quite genuinely have no interest in watching any of the crap they put out and I never watch it, they are gonna be flat out of luck there.

      But if they turn up with a warrant I'll let them in, of course. And because I'm completely genuine, I don't care if they give me no notice.

      He he... Update us if you get another visit....

    2. there is no implied right of access law in Scotland JohnH they are right because there is no trespass law in Scotland, all that rally means is you cant stop them from coming to your door, but they cant enter unless your stupid enough to let them in, I don't think your stupid. :)


      There is actually trespass in Scotland, John, although it is a bit different from the law in England. But I think that there is enough of a difference that, as you say, you can't actually stop them coming to your door. You can though stop them coming into your house, where they would be trespassing.

  2. I lived in the USA for many years and gave up on TV/cable in 1991. It went like this - one Thursday night I spent 2 hours looking for something decent to watch and 1/2 an hour watching a program. On the Friday I got a letter from the cable company telling me that they were upping the price and changing the channels I could get. Guess what one of the channels no longer available was the one I had watched the previous night. On the Saturday I called up and cancelled the cable service. The young lady I spoke to was most anxious to find out where I was moving to as she assured me that they were USA wide so I would be able to transfer my subscription. When I (sweetly) told her I wasn't moving she was dumbfounded - but you wont have any TV! she said. And I said yes I know - that left her speechless.

    When I came back to the UK I lodged with others and soon realized that the BBC was not what it had once been. So when I got a place of my own, I did not get a TV and so did not buy a licence. That, however did not stop them from sending me a stream of threatening letters. I have to say that I only got rid of the constant stream of letters when I threatened them with legal action for harassment. I went on-line at my local library and told them pretty forcefully that they had better stop. I did point out that apart from library books, I could find better things to do than watch TV. Watching grass grow and paint dry were featured.

    Now I only get a letter from them every 2 or 3 years.

    By the way, I assume that it is Capita that does the licencing stuff. Up here in the Highlands they are generally referred to as Crapita, being the public opinion of how well they have done in automating our library system.

    1. It's funny how some people imagine that there is no way that anyone could live without a tv. Frankly I've always had better things to do.

      When I was growing up and in my teens, I was always so busy I never had time to watch tv, except for very special programmes I wanted to see for a special reason, for which there was a video recorder.

      I never got into the habit of watching tv, although I know people who switch on as they come through door at the end of the day, and switch off as they go out in the morning.

      I know too that for some older people it is a godsend. I can;t imagine how boring it would be for some of my neighbours without it.

      I suppose I'd have a tv but for this ridiculous charge, because I like things like Attenborough, adn Poirot, Midsommer Murders and Morse, Lewis and Endevour.

      Ican watch them on Youtube though...

      I thought that 'Crapita' originated in Private Eye... Certainly it's used around here too. Brilliant description of one the big four useless tosser companies that run the Uk.

  3. I should add that as I understand it, even if my aerial was connected I am still not breaking the law unless I actually watch or record live tv.

    1. Yes. The onus is on them to prove that you have watched it, which they can only do if they catch you doing it... but for the absence of doubt as far as I'm concerned, I disconnected.

  4. tris

    Just today a Russian speaking latvian who i know asked me about nemtsov
    killing anyways he explains he never watches tv hasnt got one. Gets
    all his news from online.
    had masses of aggro (70s word there) with the tv license peeps but
    finally he hopes they have accepted he has no tv.
    will let you know what happens next

    1. I've got quite a few mates from Europe who watch their own tv coverage on line, Niko.

      They too have had letters. It must be incredibly costly. Most young people living alone wouldn't dream of having a tv, but certainly not foreign students.

      I wonder how much they spend on these daft letters

  5. trsi

    Umm seems to me lots on here do not watch or own a tv perhaps
    its the BBC brainwashing which is twisting my mind . Must
    admit if i dont watch the BBC for several hours a day at a high volume
    i get terrific withdrawal symptoms being sick pains in tummy and me head
    and only being able to eliminate them by absorbing BBC thought waves
    emanating from the tv and bowing to my pic of the queen outside Westminster.

    1. Well Niko... some people are thus afflicted.

      I supposes that Taz leaves the room when the Beeb is on.

  6. Tris.
    These are the rules.

  7. Well I do have a TV, and haven't paid the BBC propaganda tax for years.
    They can get it right up them. Sideways.

    1. Oh Jutie.... you're a bit of a scamp.

      What do you think of the proposals that we should all pay regardless of whether we have a tv or not?

    2. No way! The British State is determined to push their propaganda into our living rooms. I never watch BBC news.

    3. Won't work, will it?

  8. The introduction of a universal flat-rate fee to replace the licence fee is expected to be backed by BBC Director General Lord Hall later today.

    It means that everyone in the UK would be forced to pay a levy – regardless of whether they own a television. This is how it will affect you:

    The current state of play:

    A household watching or recording live television – as it is being broadcast- is required to have a permit to do so. The funds go towards paying for BBC radio, TV and online services. Fee income of £4 billion was recorded for 2013/14.

    How much does it cost?

    It currently costs £145.50 per year for a colour television licence and £49 for a black and white set per household. The annual cost was £2 when it was first introduced in 1946, around £72.30 as of 2015. Although rates tend to go up every year, the Government has frozen prices until 31st March 2017.

    Does everyone need one?

    The current situation means that any household watching only catch-up and on-demand services does not need a licence.

    Anyone found watching television as it is being broadcast can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000. It is currently a criminal offence to not have a valid licence and non-payment of fines could also lead to a prison sentence.

    Why would the licence be scrapped?

    Because a household does not need a licence to watch catch-up services, the Commons committee for Culture, Media and Sport are in favour of imposing a bill on every home, with an extra charge for BBC services, in order to close the loophole.

    Would I have to pay the fee even if I don't own a television and had no intention of watching catch-up?

    In a word, yes. The fee will be obligatory for everyone.

    Would the punishment for non-payment change?

    Strong support from parliamentarians to decriminalise the offence has launched a review into how sanctions could be carried out without the threat of prosecution and immense pressure on magistrate courts. This would be in conjunction with efforts to “modernise” the licence system.

    When would it change?

    Proposals to turn licence non-payment to a civil offence are being discussed in Parliament. Under plans, fee evaders would be punished by fines only. A public consultation runs until 1 May before the findings will be presented to Parliament and the BBC Trust. MP’s believe that the earliest that they could introduce the levy would be 2026.

    How much would I pay if the flat-rate was introduced

    No figures have been explicitly mentioned but the German charge was set at €215 (£156) to pay for public service channels and is collected in monthly instalments.

    The aim is to reduce money lost to those evading the charge, estimated to be around £250m and spread the payment more widely. Thus if you are already paying the licence, you can almost certainly expect costs to fall.

    1. Seriously can't think ofr a second that that will work in its present state with the bloated BBC with dozens of channels providing programmes that could easily be provided by commercialo companies.

      State broadcasters really don;t need to do rubbish like "Strictly come Whatever it is", and "Britannia Hasn't got Talent". Nor whould it be running Radios One and Two.

      I';d say we might have one tv and one radio channel to cover stuff that wouldn't be touched by commercial channels because the audience would be too small to draw advertising.

      We should also, if we are paying, be able to go in and root out the perverts!

    2. Yes, she did. Brave woman.

      Doesn't pay to go up against the establishment.

    3. Sounds like it has all the hall marks of being this generations poll tax.

    4. I think so. The only thing they could do would be to add it to income tax... Never a smart move!

    5. I wonder if like the poll tax there will be riots in England. Most people just do not want to fund the BBC. The US have public broadcasting, I watch it, does documentaries, here it broadcasts things about the US and in the US it gives them a flavour of our History. What it does not do is politics, broadcast news or make stupid entertainment programmes. I can only say good luck with trying to tax people to the extent that they do in Germany for the good old BBC.
      As I publish comment in my own name I am staying out of rest of this presently. Moving house soon, I will let you decide what may happen.

    6. Public broadcasting in the USA is funded by pledges from people who want to watch stuff (as I understand it).

      I doubt that people will take to a tax to run the massive organisation that is the BBC.

      Why would they pay for BBC1, 2, 3, 4, Parliament, News, CBBC1, CBBC2, Alba, plus hundreds of radio stations.

      If they are going to fund it as a poll tax, they'll have to reduce it to FAR less than the £145. they charge now.

      People will put up with crap as long as they are used to it. If you try to change the crap, look out for objections!

  9. I rarely watch the BBC, and I would prefer not to watch TV at all, but Arlene likes some programmes, so I go along with it. I have a new tact though, all the Internet streaming services, so there is hope yet.
    As for everyone paying, whether they watch or not, that is a desperate ploy from an organisation with reduced income, too late they will realise that they cannot be biased and get away with it.

    1. Yes, agreed. But they will also need to slim down immensely.

      If the government needs a state broadcast (and I can't see why it does) and it has to be paid for out of taxes. We really need not to be paying people like Bruce Forsythe, vast sums to totter around looking silly and sounding ever sillier.

    2. Television was supposed to be the "great educator", the informer of news and current events, the provider of knowledge. Sadly the lowest common denominator prevailed, in the form of light (very bloody light) entertainment. There is nothing wrong with adaptions of literary works but, the constant regurgitation of costume dramas; leave me cold. The constant spoon fed conveyer belt of " talent" shows, video clips sent in by a brainwashed public and soap operas are the real opiates to dull the masses.
      Baird, Farnsworth etal, the pioneers of television, if they new what would have become of their invention; would they have continued?

    3. I agree. Of course I have no problem with the the stuff that you talk about, Jim; there's a vast audience for it. I'm just certain that that's not what a public broadcaster is for.

      For those that like EastEnders, great... but it's mass entertainment. It can be provided by the private sector. I shouldn't have to pay for it when I'd rather cut my foot off than watch it.

    4. Actually I agree with Jimnarlene, television used to be an educator and the BBC were good at it. Now it is Great British this and that, English History, I have forgotten the last time I saw any from elsewhere in these islands. The last thing the Politicians want is an educated electorate, they just might stop voting for them, they might even string them up by their brass necks.

    5. Exactly. The more educated we have become about what they get up to the less they are liked.

      And yet, it needn't be. Politicians are only disliked because they make a mess of doing that we pay them to do, and of course so many of them believe that they should be paid vast sums... because they think they are worth it.

      Worth it? What a bloody joke.

  10. When the Tories were unelected to power,Cameron and friends were hell bent on privatising the BBC and getting rid of the license fee.
    Now they are saying that we all have to pay for the BBC whether we like it or not.
    What could possibly have happened to change their minds?

    1. The BBC, as the public face of GCHQ, is not a public service broadcaster, as they would like you to believe, but a vital propaganda weapon of the British State. This has become very clear to the Scottish electorate since 2012.

    2. I always thought that both parties, absolutely hell bent on privatising the air we breathe would have jumped at the chance of privatising the one last massive publicly owned company.

      Strangely however, it seems that they find the propaganda far too useful.

      Being able to gently remind people that your English culture secretary sets the amount of the tax you are allowed to charge to keep yourself in First Class air fares and taxis, champagne and caviare, and HUGE salaries for clapped out entertainers, must hold a lot of sway when it comes to deciding just what you are going to criticise.

      It helps if the broadcaster supporting the corrupt establishment is part of that corrupt establishment.


  11. I wonder if you'd find anything worth watching though...

  12. Boy have you touched a nerve when it comes to the TV licence!

    The idea of having to pay a licence (on pain of a criminal conviction if you don't) to fund the propaganda arm (aka BBC) of the British Establishment is an affront to freedom of choice and democracy.

    The Westminster parties are always banging on about giving us choices when it comes to schooling our kids etc but deny us the choice of not paying for the BBC because we never watch their channels.

    It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to see that the BBC is a propaganda tool of the state and nothing more.

    1. As I said Anon, I've always thought it was ridiculous that you can to pay a flat rate for watching tv, even if you didn't watch the channel you were paying for. (Although I understand that ITN and Channels Four and Five News services have to be paid for out of the licence fee?)

      That the BBC is a propaganda tool of the government is a given and can be the only reason that it hasn't been sold off along with everything else that the country used to own.

  13. We will be leaving our house unoccupied for six weeks as we take a holiday, that means the TV will not be switched on and nothing watched or recorded.

    We will not be liable for the TV Licence fee during that period, so intend stopping the DD and will restart under legal penalty unfortunately, on return.

    Does any sane person see anything wrong in this approach? We will appreciate comments and similar scenario advice.

    1. No nothing wrong with that approach Barontorc you are perfectly entitled to suspend payment when your not there to use the service and the BBC would be the first to acknowledge that, I'll bet the people who run the BBC do that when they go to Biarritz for the summer season.

    2. monsieur le baron....

      I agree. I can see no reason why you would pay for a tv licence when you cannot possibly be using the tv.

      As there is, by law, no obligation to pay for a licence if the tv is not being watched, I see no reason why people wouldn't do that for short holidays too.

      Let's have other opinions though....

      Of course

  14. Meant to ask if you were aware of the amount of money being donated towards various candidates of the SNP in Dundee, some have received more donations than Wings. I think one was 220%.

    1. Oh no, I didn't know that.

      That's great news.

      We mean to get these people elected.

      I can't imagine anyone much subsidising mcGovern... Maybe the local pub!