This ain't Amersterdam

I've now been in England for about as long as I was in Amsterdam. Unlike Amsterdam, I'm not inclined to leave. I don't know a lot of people yet, but the other night I got to hang out with soldatengrab, a local DJ who seems to have great taste in music and lost_in_music_, a techie who's also into photography. I'll have to get a better camera and see if I can get some tips (the latter also turns out to work for the same company as I do).

I just received the following letter in the mail:


To the Legal Occupier,

Our Enforcement Division has identified that there is no record of a TV License at your address, and that you may therefore be watching or recoding television programme services without a valid license. If this is the case, you are breaking the law.

If we find that you watch or record television without a license, your statement will be the first step towards prosecution. Should you be convicted, your name will be added to our National Enforcement Database and the court can impose a fine of up to £1,000.

Officers from our Enforcement Division catch 92,138 people every year.

... snip ...

Hmm, let's see, I gave up TV 21 years ago. I do have a TV, but it came with the flat and sits unplugged, under a table. I don't think I'll worry too much about this. And they catch exactly 92,138 people every year? What is this? Some sort of damned quota and they stop catching 'em after that?

Though I don't plan on moving back, I do miss the hell out of all of you (assuming you were friends of mine back in Portland, of course).

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From what I recall from friends in the UK, it's best to get in contact with them and ask for them to inspect your TV to confirm that it's not in use. Or maybe ask the landlord to store the TV elsewhere. They get very tetchy about not buying a license! Of course, the locals can probably give you better advice than I can.

I've been TV-free for about a year and a half now; don't miss it at all.
This begs the question, can a computer screen be considered TV if you watch DVD, YouTube, QuickTime, or other broadcast-like media on it?
the TV licence people basically look at your capability to view public programming. If you have a TV card, then yes, you need a licence. If you are watching videos for download, thats nothing to do with your capability. You can't tune into the BBC, or any other channel, so you arent in need.

Curtis, you are going to have to prove that your TV isnt in use, or cannot be used to not be liable, which means either putting some polyfilla into the ariel connector, or (and better if you ever want to use the thing) plugging in an ariel, and making sure that all the channels are not tuned in, i.e. they lead to nothing but static. This way an inspector can come in, and check your tv, and see you do not use it.
I miss you too. I am currently planning on NOT BURNING next year and visiting you in early '08. What do you think of that?
Hrrm. Did your ticket to the UK say anything about death?

Take care & Burning Man stories soon! I leave tomorrow!
heheeh. I get this *all* the time. Dont worry, if you have no tv, you have nothing to worry about. Just ignore them. A guy did come to visit once, took a quick look at me & said "nope, you really dont have one. I can tell..." & walked away with a smile...
I'm very envious of you for not using a TV -- I would very happily get rid of ours. I lived without one for many years, but Bridie & Kyle both use it, so....

claudiag already linked to the best source of info on the licensing enforcement. I'm reminded of _The Running Man_ (the original novel, not the dodgy Arnie movie) in which it's illegal not to own a TV, although at that point it's still legal to switch it off.
Good grief. A license????? You know, it's funny. Some of us spend scads of money for a tv and we still have to pay to watch the damn thing anyhow, so you never really quit paying for it????? Like me having cable. Sigh.
Hmmm. Japan has a similar license thing for owners of TV sets. It's a quirk.
How cool would it be to be an inspector, though. Basically, you get to go to other people's houses and watch TV all day. AND, get paid. Sweet gig, that.
I've always been curious about the TV License. How much does it cost each year, is it per set or per house? Americans don't understand having to pay for over the air programming but it's not much different than paying for cable TV.
but we get to pay for our cable as well! Not sure of the precise amount but it's about £120 a year - daylight robbery
On the other hand BBC (reason for licence fee) == no adverts

I don't enjoy paying, obviously(!), but having channels with no adverts is good
It's the reason why their shows tend to be commercial-free. The license pays for BBC programming and also ensures that the BBC doesn't have to sell out to corporate interests to stay on the air.
A friend of mine is the same situation as you was in the same situation. His advice would be, "1) get rid of the unused TV. 2) accept the fact that you'll get that notice every couple months, 3) accept the fact that 2-3 times a year you will have to take the day off (or work from home) to let an inspector in to re-prove that you don't have a TV."

he says its worth it to live a tv-free life.

he also says that the 1000 GBP times 92,138 is about the same as the budget for this department. Thus, it would be just as expensive for the group to not exist. However, thinking about this too much will drive you crazy.