back to article Paying a TV tax makes you happy - BBC

We're not making this up. TV Licensing™*, the outfit in charge of collecting the BBC's licence fee, has published a new report entitled "TV Licensing Reveals TV Elation Across The Nation". The outfit has created what it called "The National TeleHappiness Index" to measure how, er, happy TV makes people in the UK. There is also …


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  1. Jolyon Smith

    NZ Has No TV Tax

    Instead, the public broadcaster is funded from general taxation.

    In NZ we also do not get to choose whether we pay those taxes or what it get's spent on generally.

    I am a Brit, born and bred, who moved to NZ aged 34. The BBC is one of the very few things I miss terribly. I don't miss paying the TV license fee because to get decent TV here you HAVE to pay for Sky (more than twice as expensive as the license fee, even on a straight dollar-to-pounds exchange rate basis, never mind the lower wages here), where-as in the UK Sky truly was optional because the BBC was such a good service.

    And the TV LIcense fee also paid for commercial free, quality radio. And seriously, you don't know how valuable that is until you come to a country where the very idea is alien.

    In NZ we also have a public broadcaster that is indistinguishable from the non-publicly owned commercial TV. They both show the same irritating commercials and the standard of output is lamentably poor (with even more lamentably rare exceptions), apart from the shows imported from overseas.

    Ironically, the only channels on which you can enjoy commercial free, quality television... are the pay TV subscription services on Sky (SoHo etc).

    Hmmm... I wonder if there's a link between what you pay for something directly, the accountability this creates, and the quality you get as a result.

    Now there's a thought.

    Quit bitching and moaning. You don't know how lucky you are.

    1. S_B

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      Not sure how long it has since you've had the BBC, but I for one would not miss it.

      The BBC is under as much pressure to achieve ratings as ITV is, leading to puerile TV such as Strictly Come Dancing, Eastenders on most nights, and a general lack of other programming.

      Even the cry of "BBC does the best costume dramas" has been lacking of late seeing as ITV has Downton Abbey.

      Give me the choice to pay for TV or not, that's up to me, don't force me to pay for 37 random radio stations, that can't support themselves any other way, and however many channels of repeat programming that the BBC put out.

      I'd rather spend the £150 on a subscription music service, or put it towards Virgin Media/Sky/Netflix/Etc

      That'd be my choice. Think how much money it would SAVE not having to chase people without a licence who probably can't pay the fine anyway

      (And the devil logo as it's the closes to rose tinted specs I could find)

      1. Jolyon Smith

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        Missing the point entirely that if you eradicate the TV License Fee you will STILL be paying for the BBC, the only difference is that it will come out of your general TAX bill. You still won't have any choice but to pay it, but without direct accountability for the funding, you will lose the right entirely to complain about what you are getting for your money and the BBC - still being paid for by you - will drift even further down the quality ladder.

        The BBC is regarded worldwide as the Gold Standard of public broadcasters. It is a uniquely British phenomenon to want to destroy the things that others think we should be most proud of.

      2. Gav

        puerile TV

        Puerile TV, like "Strictly Come Dancing", has always been on BBC TV. Unfortunately a great many people who pay their TV licence *like* puerile TV, and they have as much a right to get programmes made for them as anyone else. If you don't like them, don't watch them. There's plenty other BBC output you've paid for that you could be watching.

        The BBC is not perfect, and the way it is funded is not perfect, but it is streets ahead of the alternatives.

        "Strictly Come Dancing" - I don't mind the dancing, which can be moderately entertaining, it's the aeons of banal chat that surrounds it that makes me want to slit my wrists.

        1. Measurer

          Re: puerile TV

          Watch it with the volume down.....

          There, fixed it for you.

      3. jaduncan

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        "Even the cry of "BBC does the best costume dramas" has been lacking of late seeing as ITV has Downton Abbey."


      4. Gradivus

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        Perhaps ITV does good quality drama BECAUSE it's in competition with the BBC?

        The licence fee is worthwhile if only to push the other broadcasters into upping their game a bit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      "Quit bitching and moaning. You don't know how lucky you are" :-D

      I was just thinking of Spike Milligan in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" , when he is hung up in the dungeon and saying to Brian "You lucky bastard, coming here moaing ..... " ....blah blah blah .


      1. RobertD

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        Good point - but it was Michael Palin on the wall, not dear old Spike.

    3. DrXym

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      Ireland is the same - the public broadcaster is RTE and is analogous to the BBC yet it shows adverts. In their defence they do show a lot of "public interest" stuff but there is a sense that they're not exactly rewarding the tax payer's investment to the extent they could.

      Anyway on the subject of TV licences, I think the best thing any government could do for it's revenues is change it from a TV licence to a media licence and make it opt-out rather than opt-in. I.e. every household is charged the licence as a tax by default and if they don't want it then they must explicitly sign a form to opt out. It would be far easier to collect revenues, enforce and prosecute. More people paying would mean there would be less pressure to increase it too.

    4. Annihilator
      Paris Hilton

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      "I don't miss paying the TV license fee because to get decent TV here you HAVE to pay for Sky [...], where-as in the UK Sky truly was optional because the BBC was such a good service."

      While I'll defend public broadcasting to the end, is the above statement not a matter of opinion and preference? For many the BBC doesn't offer a service they want, especially once they started losing various sports to Sky. For the first time I'm considering it after a season without full F1 coverage for example, but I accept not everyone would feel the same.

      1. MrXavia
        Thumb Up

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax @Annihilator

        I agree on the F1, I am gutted the BBC lost it, but I wont pay a penny to Sky.....

        I think that major sporting events should always be on the BBC, we need a law for this!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: NZ Has No TV Tax @Annihilator

          "I think that major sporting events should always be on the BBC, we need a law for this!"

          There is a list of sporting occasions that must be free-to-air:

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: NZ Has No TV Tax @Annihilator

          They couldn't afford to show every race, so decided to split it with Sky.

          The BBC wastes masses of money. Even when they lay people off it costs millions. They give some people a huge pay off, nearly £500,000 a piece.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: NZ Has No TV Tax @Annihilator

            If they had not done "The Voice" they could have afforded to carry on showing F1.

            ******* idiots in charge

            F1 should also have been a TV rights protected sport

        3. MJI Silver badge

          Re: NZ Has No TV Tax @Annihilator



      2. Goldmember

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        "without full F1 coverage"

        Agreed, I pay £10 a month on top of my Sky subscription (which I only got ion the first place for the braodband/ phone package) just for the F1. That's less than the cost of the BBC licence. But not everyone will feel the need for this.

        The BBC does still put out some quality stuff; wildlife (Africa), Top Gear (not to everyone's taste, admittedly), some good documentaries. But it also pumps out some utter shite. To that end, it's not much different to the other channels, and in my view has nothing that I'd pay £130 a year for. The best stuff can either be purchased in a box set, or is repeated by freeview channels. It's time the antequated BBC kept up with the times and the licence fee was scrapped in place of giving people a choice.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

          "without full F1 coverage"

          That's less than the cost of the BBC licence.

          but not much less, and all you get is F1 - I got tedioused out after realising that the sunday race _always_ ended up with me snoring my head off by lap 3, while 'she who must be obeyed' sat and fumed.

          if it's put me to sleep every race for 2 years do i really need to watch it.... do i even give a fuck? even if i _knew_ there was going to be a massive accident, or one car was going to drive past another!!! and in a fit of pique the playstation operator being passed would suddely veer into the playstation operator doing the passing and take them both out?

          nope - i think i nice kip is of greater value to me.

          sky can keep it (seems millions of other viewers had the same idea)

      3. Syntax Error

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        The guy says he is an ex-pat. Missing the BBC... Get a proxy sorted out and use Iplayer.

      4. MJI Silver badge

        Re: F1

        Read up on RTL, Astra 1, and multiple LNBs

        F1 is still free

    5. Jim Hague

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      Australia also funds the ABC out of general taxation. When I lived there some years ago, ABC TV was (is?) ad-free. The ABC's commitment to regional radio is impressive, plus there a couple of decent-ish national stations. Nothing quite up to the standard of Radio 4, though some of Radio National (plug for Robin Williams and the Science Show, better than anything on the Beeb). 2BL, the main ABC radio channel for Sydney, is rather reminiscent of BBC Radio Oxford in terms of content.

      So, perhaps Blighty should make a similar move? Personally, I think not. The naked threats to the ABC from politicians at election time - give me coverage I want and like, or I'll slash your budget if re-elected - are unedifying in the extreme, and the fact that they feel able to make those threats openly is Not Good.

      And oh God, the commercial channels. Ads every 10 seconds, imported series slashed to ribbons to fit the ads in.

      The licence fee is not a great system. But to me it looks an easy winner in the least-worse stakes.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      In south africa, the public broadcaster is supported by license fees AND taxes, usually because the idiots running the broadcaster blow millions (actually its now billions) on fancy cars, high salaries and other job perks. What makes it worse is that it acts as the Department of Propaganda for the ruling regime.

      All of you should shut and be thankful.

      1. tony2heads

        TV Tax

        and bloody advertisements too!

    7. cotsweb

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      It looks like Jolyon Smith and I have swapped places, it must be part of some programme to keep the world from spinning off it's axis.

      NZ used to have a similar system to the UK but the smaller pool of licence fee payers wasn't sufficient to fund what was essentially a copy of the BBC. They had to add commercials to the NZBC channels to make up the funding shortfall, for a while they had the worst of both worlds. I guess you could say they still do but at least they don't have a separate licence fee.

      I think the BBC is great but I hate the licence fee, the collection policy is very aggressive and it must be very inefficient to run a whole extra tax system to fund one goverment department.

      1. Paul 195

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        Glad you love the BBC, but I have to pick you up on an important point. The BBC is *not* a government department, which is the point of the way the license fee works. The only substantial leverage politicians have over the BBC is that every few years, they get to set the size of the next license fee settlement. Although that is a powerful weapon, it has very little effect on the actual output of the BBC, the evidence for which is that governments of all stripes repeatedly belabour the BBC for "unfair coverage" (ie, acting as an independent organisation rather than cheerleaders for the current regime),

    8. Anonymous Coward

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      Quit bitching and moaning?

      How about if you lived here, I charged you a tax for using my washing machine regardless of whether you used it or not? Sound fair? Sounds ludicrous?

      The BBC should not be publicly funded - period. The only reason everyone keeps bleating on about quality programming is because of the fecking obscene amount of tax payers money it receives. Even I could create a bloody tv station with that amount of cash each year.

      How the hell can it possibly be fair for a person to be charged for watching broadcast TV from another provider (cable channel) but have to pay another company for the privilege? Should you pay renault if you drive a ford? Should you pay the Mail newspaper just because you read the Guardian? Of course not and quite rightly there would be an outcry if you had to, but we seemingly just let the BBC fiasco carry on.

      Now do I watch it? No I do not - I CHOOSE to pay for cable TV and CHOOSE to watch what I want but with the BBC, I have no choice but to bloody pay for it.

      Ok rant over.

      1. Jolyon Smith

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        "How about if you lived here"

        You saw the part where I *DID* live there, for 34 years. I have the benefit of being able to compare those years with living in a very similar country but where the public broadcaster is funded from general taxation.

        I've seen and lived the difference. For you, you are just looking at the greener grass and I can tell you, it aint so green up close.

      2. Gav

        Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

        "I charged you a tax for using my washing machine regardless of whether you used it or not? Sound fair? Sounds ludicrous?"

        Sounds fine. You get charged for schools whether you use them or not. The police, whether you use them or not. The NHS, whether you use it or not. The RAF, whether you use it or not. You have no choice. You are paying for a service that everyone benefits from being there, whether you use it directly or not.

        Without the BBC the entire broadcasting media in the UK would be run by commercial companies for profit, dominated by the multi-national behemoth that is Sky. Do you really have no idea how bad that would be?

    9. g e

      It's about choice

      I choose to pay SKY, I can watch terrestrial TV there, too, as part of that service.

      I don't get a choice to not pay the BBC even though I'm possibly paying them TWICE as I pay SKY (I'd assume SKY would buy channel content from terrestrial TV, it's not 'donated').

      Perhaps, though, with the proliferation of set-top style freeview boxes, TV makers might just start NOT putting 'receivers' into their sets, making them into HDMI monitors and thus making them license-free (you'd pay a license for the freeview set-top box as it's "capable of receiving"). This would be good and would create choice. They could maybe sell the freeview module separately and allow you to plug it in if you wanted it.

      Doubtless Freeview wouldn't like that much as it would make them seem not very 'free' even though it's not their fault.

      1. SynicNZ

        Re: It's about choice

        Worse. BBC pays Sky to carry it

        thanks to Maggie

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: It's about choice

          Err I don't think you can blame her for that. It is the EPG fee they pay and they have to to be on the Sky EPG

      2. mickey mouse the fith

        Re: It's about choice

        "Perhaps, though, with the proliferation of set-top style freeview boxes, TV makers might just start NOT putting 'receivers' into their sets, making them into HDMI monitors and thus making them license-free (you'd pay a license for the freeview set-top box as it's "capable of receiving"). This would be good and would create choice. They could maybe sell the freeview module separately and allow you to plug it in if you wanted it."

        I never understood why the BBC didnt use encrypted streams and smart cards in freeview boxes when it went digital, then only those who wanted to pay for it could watch BBC channels and everyone else could make do with free to air channels.

        The BBC seem to waste a huge amount of (our) money on pointless channels that seem to loop repeats forever. On BBC3, how many times are they going to show the same episodes.of family guy etc? Then theres the channels that so few people watch and listen to that its a waste of limited broadcast bandwidth, like bbc alba, parliment channel, community channel, asian network etc. I think I read somewhere that the head of the Asian radio channel said it would probably be cheaper to mail every listener of his channel a cd of the weeks content, rather than broadcast over freeview/dab.

        And finally we get to the dumbed down programming itself. Dubbing sounds on wildlife docs, inane celeb cooking/dancing/travel or whatever other shit they can get them to do programs, horrible cycophantic talk shows that are basically ads for the interviewed celebs next filmatic endevour, rubbish sitcoms and tedious soaps.

        Couple all that with the ridiculous saleries paid to some presenters and it really isnt very good value for money.

        And dont get me started on the utter fuckup that is dab.

        Yes, there are a few diamonds in the rough, but not £142 (or whatever it is this time round) a years worth.

        Hmmm, i think i just answered my own smartcard v enforced licence question.

      3. MJI Silver badge

        Re: It's about choice

        Actually BBC have to pay Sky to go on the EPG

      4. jcoc

        Re: It's about choice

        "I don't get a choice to not pay the BBC even though I'm possibly paying them TWICE as I pay SKY (I'd assume SKY would buy channel content from terrestrial TV, it's not 'donated')."

        I think you'll find that the BBC pay Sky to carry their channels (which doesn't happen anywhere else). So basically all of us pay in order for some people to view the channels on Sky - genius!

      5. Paul 195

        Re: It's about choice

        For reasons that no-one really understands, Murdoch is able to force the terrestrial broadcasters to *pay* for "platform access".

    10. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: NZ Has No TV Tax

      NZ has no TV tax because 30+% of the population refusing to pay up meant it was impossible to enforce.

      Of course a large part of refusing to pay up had to do with it funding TV and Radio stations which carried up to 22 minutes/hour of commercial advertising (The Concert and National programs were and are separately funded by the Department of Internal Affairs, although operated by RNZ)

      Compare and contrast with what the BBC offers.

      Compare and contrast with Belgium - which has mandatory fees (TV or no TV) and no national broadcaster.

  2. Dr_N

    When you compare what the BBC offers...

    ... compared to the advert encrusted guff that is produced by other publicly funded broadcasters across the EU no wonder people are happy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When you compare what the BBC offers...

      "the advert encrusted guff that is produced by other publicly funded broadcasters across the EU"

      Nice bit of generalisation and xenophobia there.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As soon as the catch up services are better quality and more reliable, I'll be cancelling my TV license and using catch up services only.

    The more people follow this lead, the less sustainable the TV license will be to maintain.

    1. The BigYin

      "As soon as the catch up services are better quality and more reliable" the rules will be changed.

    2. Malcolm 1

      There will no longer be anything worth watching however as it will all be commercial dross.

    3. thesykes
      Thumb Down

      catch up TV?

      and what exactly will you be watching on catch up tv? Imported TV from America or the trash churned out by ITV, C4 and Five?

    4. Blitheringeejit
      Thumb Up

      not catching up

      I liked the idea of catchup until I actually tried 4OD etc - only to find that it's harder to skip the ads there than it is on broadcast TV. The old fashioned record-watch-fast-forward technique works just as well now as it did 20 years ago, despite Sky's attempt to rename/rebrand the "video recorder" as the "Sky Plus Box".

      So while I won't criticise commercial TV for trying to force me to watch the adverts which fund its production, I will carry on loving and happily financing Auntie for providing me with advert-free TV, including on the iPlayer.

      Now all we need to do is to convince Auntie that as well as hating adverts, we also hate trailers, and her increasingly annoying tendency to repeat the same ones endlessly for weeks and weeks. Yawn.

      Oh, and I rather enjoy BBC radio too.

      Yours, Mrs Trellis, North Wales ®

      1. cyborg

        Re: not catching up

        BBC Four alone is worth it for me. A high level of programmes actually worth watching. Can't see a chance of getting its sort of content in a commercial environment.

        Now if only BBC One could stop trying to be ITV 1 which is terrible.

        1. Gordon 11

          Re: not catching up

          BBC Four alone is worth it for me.

          To say nothing of Radio4, which is funded by the TV licence even it you don't need one to listen.

          Both channels that don't treat the audience as idiots - just treat the audience.

          1. pPPPP

            Re: not catching up

            I'd pay the TV licence just for BBC4, Radio4, 6 Music and the occasional programme on BBC 1 & 2. I'd also pay to get rid of BBC 3 (aka the Family Guy channel) and just buy the box sets.

            I would also like the BBC to stop paying self-promoting so-called "celebrities" unless it was a real-life version of the Running Man with these people in it. That would be good.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " I'll be cancelling....". Bet you make some excuse to leave the pub every time its coming up to your round too.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        What a puerile response.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Will you be watching anything produced by the BBC?

      "As soon as the catch up services are better quality and more reliable, I'll be cancelling my TV license and using catch up services only."

      If so I'd call that theft.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will you be watching anything produced by the BBC?

        So I am a thief for using catchup on Netflix to watch shows?

        Or ITV catchup who does not receive taxpayer money?

  4. TheTrouser

    I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

    I am 100% happy.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

      I stopped, for many years.

      It didn't really make a difference. I still watched the content I like, because I have it all on DVD anyway. You could say I was paying or it twice before I stopped - once to have the licence, once to buy the disks.

      In terms of "new" content, there's not a lot that I watch and - sorry - not a lot of it funded by the TV licence. Some, I grant you, but not a lot. And what is is often stuff that's been running for years and has just been carried on. The new Attenborough's are on Eden (UKTV-owned, so not tax-payer funded), and tend towards dumbing down and 3D junk nowadays. Things like QI - well, they're great but it's not really multiply-watchable for any particular episode (which, despite being a big fan, means I have only one of the DVD's). I actually get more value out of an occasional "The Sky At Night" than I do 99% of the prime-time stuff.

      When I had no licence? I didn't miss much. I used iPlayer (not watching live!), 4oD, etc. and caught basically everything new of what I wanted (and more conveniently, rather than scheduling my life around the TV schedule!). The rest I had on DVD. Missing out on the new shows? Not a big deal, I was tired of watching dross over and over and over again under the banner of "New Comedy" (in the last, what five-six years, the new shows I watch, that I would actually miss, can be summarised as "The Big Bang Theory" and "Not Going Out" - pretty much everything else I could do without and not even care).

      In the end, I got a licence again. Not for the content (I had everything I wanted) but because I had a cable package that was cheaper than phone and Internet combined, so TV came "for free" and the licence fee just about covers the "late at night, can't go out, don't want to do things, let's flick" moments. I'd happily do without it again, it's not that big a deal either way. If I was poor, it would be one of the first things to go.

      My girlfriend is Italian, though, and I'm trying to see if we can get some Italian TV (they *don't* have decent things like iPlayer, etc. so she misses hearing her own language), so I would need a licence for doing that anyway.

      At points in my life I thought I would never do without it. At others I wondered why the hell I ever bought one. On average, I would always have been able to take it or leave it. Since iPlayer came along, I can definitely do without it but have one for convenience of not having to worry "Can I watch Comic Relief / Children in Need now or do I have to wait until it's not being broadcast?". (But, to be honest, even those examples are spiralling into dross nowadays and are full of people I don't even know or honestly couldn't care less about).

      In terms of funding the content I receive? Actually, I don't think that's a big deal. Good stuff will find a way out into the market through someone. Hell, I noticed that the BBC picked up Dan Patterson, and even Graham Norton, and basically the whole formats of several of their previous shows with different names/games/faces. The same could easily happen the other way around if the BBC weren't there. David Attenborough's been pushed out to the commercial arm, etc.

      I don't think that the BBC nor the licence fee are that wonderful, or even necessary. They survive mainly through convenience, legality, and the cost of comparable services.

      1. TheTrouser

        Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

        I'm pretty much like you - everything I want to watch I have on DVD. I used to occasionally watch things like QI on the iPlayer or 4oD but now hardly bother at all.

        Not having a TV license means I don't automatically throw myself onto a sofa for a few hours each night and watch stuff just because I can't think of anything better to do.

        If anything, I'd say since I ditched the TV I've made much better use of my spare time and learned lots more about subjects I'm actually interested in.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

      1993 for me. Don't miss it, hate what (little) I see of it.

      If I wanted to be patronised by a plastic box I'd buy a Windows 8 PC.

    3. NightFox

      Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

      But do you get hassled by TV Licensing? A few years ago I took on a flat just for use in the week and as it was really just a place to sleep I didn't bother with a TV. Very soon I started getting polite 'reminders' from TVL, which I ignored and the letters became more regular and the wording stronger (threatening forced entry to check if I had a TV). Now I could, at any time, have contacted TVL to inform them I didn't have a TV and maybe not doing so was a bit petulant on my behalf, but I took the view that it's not an opt-out system; I was under no legal obligation to do so. I was doing everything that the law required me to do (i.e. nothing), so what moral or legal right did TVL have to harass and threaten me?

      OK, I realize that a certain degree of robustness is necessary, but it really irked me that there was a presumption of guilt based on "everyone has a telly", with the onus on the individual to declare otherwise.

      1. TheTrouser

        Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

        They said that they were going to check up on me every few years to see if I had TV equipment - but I've not heard from them since.

        But I agree with you about their presumption that everyone MUST have a TV. The license renewal letter used to say "the license fee MUST be paid" and IIRC offered no procedure to state that you no longer need a license. I had to go onto the website to do that and it was difficult to find even then.

    4. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
      Black Helicopters

      Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

      Me too.

      Not 100% happy though, but never have been.

      As a result of giving up telly I have 50 - 60% more time, 65 - 80% more energy, 24.6% more suspision of statistics.

      And I do always enjoy the (now yearly) visits from our friendly neighbourhood Gestapo agents checking to see why I'm not taking my regular dose of government approved conformance indoctrination hypnosis treatment.

      I would happily (gladly, willingly) pay-per-view for a program that I really wanted to watch. However such a service isn't available from the Great Organ, (they just decide to give it away for free post broadcast... seriously..? WTF Beeb? Really didn't understand this move, at all.), but regrettably there isn't any content which I consider worthwhile anyway so it's something of a moot point.

      It's all jolly good fun though, isn't it.

      1. Gordon 11

        Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

        (they just decide to give it away for free post broadcast... seriously..? WTF Beeb?...)

        That's because they reckon the overwhelming majority will already have paid for it through the licence fee.

        They aren't giving it away, rather letting you access what is already yours in a little way.

    5. Minophis

      Re: I stopped paying the TV License in 2008 and haven't watch TV since.

      Same here, haven't watched TV for 5 years or had licence for 3 years. Although I do watch DVD's and have Lovefilm and Netflix PS3 subscriptions.

      Not having to pay for something I don't use makes me very happy.

  5. Thought About IT

    Compare costs with Sky

    For the huge range of activities the BBC undertakes, I'm happy enough paying the license fee. It's a bargain compared with Sky, where you have to pay to watch adverts!

    1. g e

      Re: Compare costs with Sky

      That's what time-shifting is for, or did you just get the cheap box without the Plus(?) features.

      I pay SKY (HD) around £85/month. For that I get a bucketload of TV (most of which I don't watch but there's at least half a dozen extra channels there worth having in addition to terrestrial and I don't have sports or movies), unlimited 40MBit fibre (actually 40MBit, not like 32.6MBit, and actually uncapped - at least I've not found a limit yet), phone line and essentially free phone calls as we never go over the minutes in the package. Before you say 'that's seven times the TV license (which I also have the compulsory privilege of paying on top), if you broke out phone line, calls, internet and TV into separate providers it'd be way more.

      I don't even know if the aerial socket on my TV actually works.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compare costs with Sky

      The difference is of course you don't have to, by law, pay Sky a subscription to watch the BBC. Whereas you do have to pay the BBC to watch Sky...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Compare costs with Sky

        At no point are you paying the bbc to watch sky or vice versa, you pay the government to be allowed to watch broadcast telly. More to the point, if you can afford £80+ a month for sky then shut the fuck up moaning about the bbc, skinflint!

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Compare costs with Sky

          Hiding being AC nicely there and telling people to shut the fuck up.


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compare costs with Sky

      aaaaaand - that is your CHOICE - see where I am going with this?

  6. SecretBatcave

    I know its not fashionable

    But I'd rather pay the £120 a year for reasonable TV and radio with no adverts, that £25(minimum) a month to get millions of channels of repeats, imports and cheap knockoffs.

    Choice is rendered pointless if you only have the choice of crap, more crap and repeats.

    I spend a lot of time in the US, and frankly TV there is abysmal. The actual quality of the picture is utter rubbish, the amount of advertising is ridiculous. Four advert breaks for a 22 minute cartoon, really? No wonder why things like mythbusters have so many plot recaps in them.

    Yes there is choice, but its the lowest common denominator. The discovery channel for example has descended into a reality TV channel, following fishermen, moonshiners, bike "builders" and people that buy stuff from other people. The best part is, they actually charge people to watch that crap.

    Having said that, the BBC are not perfect. However BBC not perfect is far superior to American "premium" tv

    1. pPPPP

      Re: I know its not fashionable

      You forgot to say that those four ad breaks are each 10 minutes long, sometimes repeating the same commercial within the same break.

      I often feel like going out to buy a gun when watching TV in the US. Just to shoot the TV.

  7. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    TV Licence

    Is not for using a TV, it's for funding the BBC, to which services you have access automatically if you have a TV...

    1. Number6

      Re: TV Licence

      Except that you can access BBC services except TV without having to pay the licence fee. Even the TV services are accessible without paying the licence fee if you don't watch live - iPlayer is pretty good, although ISP bandwidth charges might end up costing more than the BBC fee.

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: TV Licence

      Go read your license next time they send you a nastygram about it. You'll find that the Television License is to receive live broadcasts, not "to fund the BBC". Yes it's used to fund the BBC, but that isn't its stated purpose. It's a tax. And a regressive tax at that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TV Licence

      Not necessarily. If I lived in a valley with no terrestrial TV coverage (plenty of those about) and a satellite receiver pointed at any number of non-BBC carrying satellites then I'd not be able to view any BBC services, but would still be liable for a TV tax as what I'm watching is live.

    4. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: TV Licence

      Er, no.

      TV license is to receive TV broadcasts.

      BBC is paid for by a grant of approximately the same size as the license fee, but obviously not the same since it's negotiated every three years in advance. The BBC is nominated by the government to collect the license fee but hands the money over to central funding.

      The question as to whether the BBC is value for money is moot, but I'd argue that the lack of adverts - apart from irritating trailers - is sufficient incentive to put up with soap/game/unreality dross among the gems that the BBC can and does produce.

      Note that any programme with adverts is being paid for by you - on top of the license fee - whether you watch it or not simply by the overhead on everything you buy... and to serve you adverts *and* charge you for the privilege is surely iniquitous.

      Disclaimer: I worked for the BBC for thirty-two years in a number of engineering positions and all over the world. From personal experience I can state that the BBC seems to be generally appreciated wherever it is visible and that local TV is often compared badly to it. Which doesn't mean they always get it right: there are few of my generation who can hear the words 'producer choice' without shuddering, but when did MBAs ever understand the *value* of anything?

      1. janimal

        Re: TV Licence

        I'm pretty sure if you have the BBC channels disabled on your TV you are no longer liable for the license.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TV Licence

          "I'm pretty sure if you have the BBC channels disabled on your TV you are no longer liable for the license."

          Nope, the TV tax is for equipment able to receive live broadcasts. If you had a satellite box that was unable to receive the BBC you'd still be liable to pay for a TV licence.

        2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: TV Licence

          Lots of armchair sea-lawyers are coming out of the woodwork, I see.

          Broadcast, schmoadcasts - the purpose of the TV Licence is to fund the BBC. That it passes through a legal filter is to make sure that the Government can, in a pinch, divert the funds to plug some other hole in the budget. That's normal. Commercial broadcaster would also like to grab a slice of the licence income, with reassuring lack of success so far. That is also normal. But that does not change the underlying idea.

          Once you accept that you pay your licence to fund the BBC it does't look as outrageous as "they charge me for what I do in my own home" type of instinctive reaction that is normally the cause of people complaining about the TV Licensing in the first place.

        3. mickey mouse the fith

          Re: TV Licence

          "I'm pretty sure if you have the BBC channels disabled on your TV you are no longer liable for the license."

          This is going back a few years, but i used to live in a rural hamlet that had no terrestial tv reception whatsoever. I still had to pay a licence even though i only got sky (no bbc channels, this was late 80`s analog sky). I even argued that i had a monitor without a tuner as a display device, but still no dice.

          I was told by some licencing drone that it was a tax on having a device that was displaying broadcast television, not the channels it recieved or the broadcast provider.

          I think its the same sort of idiocy that means someone with a black and white telly and a video recorder still had to pay a colour licence because the vcr was capable of outputting a colour signal.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: TV Licence

        "BBC is paid for by a grant of approximately the same size as the license fee"

        Which koolaid have you been drinking?

        TVlicensing is a private company which is 100% BBC-owned and operated. Its "officers" have no legal powers of entry or anything else without a court order and accompanying policeman. It's fun to see them scuttle when they realise they're being filmed and they _REALLY_ don't like having their license plates written down.

        TVlicensing is authorised to collect the TV license fee but what's paid doesn't go anywhere near the government - and that irks alot of broadcasters who'd like to see funding dished out to them in order to make more programs (This is what NZ tried in the last few years of TV licensing there, but it wasn't enough to stifle the taxpayer revolt - and to add insult to injury, if any private outfit sold material overseas they'd clawback the funding plus a percentage of the gross, while TVNZ got to keep every penny)

  8. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    1rst April already?

    No, you couldn't make this cow dung up, could you?

  9. Dom 3

    Oh FFS.

    Enough with the "compulsory tax" already. I did not have a TV or licence for many years. Then I lived in Spain and discovered just what a crapfest loosely-regulated commercial TV can be. Now I'm back in the UK and more than happy to pay for CBeebies for the kids. We get a choice about paying for the Beeb. What we don't get much choice about is paying for the commercial channels - it's quite hard to avoid buying stuff that's advertised on TV.

    1. g e

      Re: Oh FFS.

      You live in the UK and have a choice about paying for a license when you have a TV? How do you manage that.

      This new learning amazes me, explain to me once more how sheep bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

      It's hard to avoid buying stuff that's advertised on TV because just about everything is advertised on TV. Unless you want to buy non-brand stuff you've never heard of from Bob's non-advertised corner-shop or is too luxurious to be advertised on TV.

    2. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: Oh FFS.

      > it's quite hard to avoid buying stuff that's advertised on TV

      Au contraire.

      I've never had the slightest inclination to buy any of the crap that's advertised on TV. Although I imagine that for women the situation is different - as most of the adverts are for their sort of "stuff".

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Oh FFS.


      However it does seem to me there's an argument for removing the TV license and taking it from the tax pot instead, adjusting tax levels and so on accordingly.

  10. JayBizzle

    I know how lucky I am, I am not in the bash the BBC/Licence Fee corner.

    However, sending people to jail (and if they are at the lower end of the Socio-Economic scale) seems very harsh especially as the cost to prosecute and maintain a prisoner far outwieghs the cost of the licence.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      A few years back a report said that the average fine handed out to TV Licence Fee dodgers was lower than the actual licence.

    3. Citizen Kaned

      especially when locally 2 paedophiles were spared jail. both were for distributing pornographic images of kids.

      in the same paper a man got 5 years for having some weed plants in his house.

      our laws need a massive rethink. suddenly weed is more harmful than child porn??

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        @Citizen Kaned - do you realise how freaking dangerous weed is? Think of the children!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boo hoo hoo

    Oh noes! Evil Leftists make me watch their propaganda.

    Only last week on Question Time, only three of the five panel were right-wing (and one of them was leftist lickspittle Ken Clarke!)

    This clearly indicates the left liberal bias of the Stalinist BBC, and I demand to watch the BBC's programmes for free.

    Or something.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Boo hoo hoo

      Have you considered working as a columnist for The Daily Telegraph?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Have you considered getting a sense of humour?

      2. Gio Ciampa

        Re: Boo hoo hoo

        I hear a whooshing sound...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Guess

    My guess

    25% of people are pissed off paying TV Tax. Probably because they're broke.

    50% of people just accept paying the TV Tax, coz they can't be arsed to be pissed off.

    24% of people , well what's 150 GBP ish per year when they're making so much cash ?

    1% are ecstatically happy because they work for the BBC directly or indirectly and without the TV tax they'd have to find something else to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Guess

      25% of posters make stuff up

      50% of posters have a good guess

      24% of posters say the first thing that comes into their heads

      Wow, this making up statistics stuff is difficult.

      Oh, and 1% have a relevant point to make and data to back it up.

  13. Peter Bond

    Owning a TV is not compulsory.

    If you don't want to pay, don't have a TV in the lounge.

    Like all forms of tax there is always an argument from people who object to spending on one specific spending - why should TVL payers have to cover the cost of the Beeb's F1 or rugby coverage if they have no interest in motor sport or rugby? Etc etc.

    A lot of the BBC's output in dire but an equal amount is very, very good. That of course is an entirely subjective statement.

    Just a long as the TVL ensures British free-to-air TV doesn't sink to the levels of that in the USA or Italy I'll keep handing over my fee without too much complaint - as I suspect will the overwhelming majority of the population of the UK.

    It's one of the things that defines this country for the better along with the NHS, unarmed coppers and fish & chips.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      If only you could attach audio of "land of hope and glory" to a post.....

    2. The BigYin

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      along with the NHS

      Not for much longer - we're bringing in the USA system by the back door. Twice the cost, half the service. But it keeps the PFI contracts rolling and that's what our MPs want as their buddies all have the snouts in the trough.

      If you have kids, now is a good time to sit them down and explain to them why their future is screwed.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

        "sit them down and explain to them why their future is screwed."

        which is exactly the reason i dont have any.

        yet the nazis at the bbc insist i still pay for c-bleedin-beebies!


        </irony mode>

    3. dcd

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      "If you don't want to pay, don't have a TV in the lounge."

      If you don't want to pay, don't watch live broadcasts.

      There. Fixed it for you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

        "If you don't want to pay, don't watch live broadcasts."

        If you don't want to pay, don't" - Fixed it again.

        We all know ways of getting around this stuff...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      yes owning a TV isn't compulsory, but if you were mad enough to just want to watch the crap on ITV or Sky you would be forced to pay for the BBC whether you wanted to watch it or not.

      They have had many court cases. One my Dad told me was donkey's years ago, back in the 405 line days, when you had different sets of coils in the TV and just couldn't tune them to another station easily. This guy, an engineer I'm guesing, hacked his TV so that it could only watch ITV. TVL or whatever it was back them took him to court and he got fined.

      So yes , owning a TV is not compulsory, but paying for the BBC is compulsory even if you don't want to watch it.

      I can't understand people not wanting to watch the stuff on BBC4 , it seems they'd prefer to watch X factor , which I think is shit. The X factor lot are being forced to subsidise my arty farty stuff on BBC4 , so I guess I should shut up.

      Maybe we should all scrap our TVs and get out a bit more and talk to humans, but I guess we'd only browse the internet, and in my case write long essays to The Register.

      Oh for open woodlands, and TREES (that aren't B-Trees )

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: XCraptor viewers subsidising us

        Very good point.

        Just had a quick count up

        On BBC I like a lot of the documentries, Not Going Out, Sky at Night, those Michael Portillo railway journeys, any travel documentries with Michael Palin, Top Gear, Doctor Who, Sherlock, I leave our Humax HDR on BBC HD most of the time. Dramas Call The Midwife is quite good (next paragraph reminded me of a line about greased penguins)

        I was channel hopping a week or so ago and ended up watching a programme on Penguins - it was great!

        Even when it comes to mass market, Strictly is a much nicer programme than XCraptor (hmm catsuits). Soaps, I watch none so do I subsidise DeadEnders or am I paying for Portillo to travel around the UK by train?

        Now ITV, Doc Martin is quite good as long as they resolve it rather than drag on, Downton Abbey was good but I feel it is now on a downslope sadly. I liked the Caroline Quentin Corshish prgramme even though she was annoying, (I love Cornwall - ancestors from there), oh shITV no need to block out the drinks brand, we all know you were blocking out Cornish Rattler.

        I stopped watching GT Academy due to overly obtrusive car and overals logo blocking, yet the shITV logo which should have been blocked was left on, the blocked logos were the name of the game, the car manufacturer, the console the game plays on, and the company who makes the console and owns Polyphony Digital. Seeing cars driving around with rectangles on the sides, bonnet, sun strip, caused me to get ratty, so I deleted the schedules recordings.

        My current shITV programme list is currently 0.

        I could manage with the following channels only

        BBC1 (local news), BBC1 HD, BBC HD, BBC News 24, Dave, best stuff off BBC2 and BBC4 goes on BBC HD and I much prefer HD for the good documentries. I would like 2 and 4 for the odd one missed.

      2. Vic

        Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

        One my Dad told me was donkey's years ago, back in the 405 line days, when you had different sets of coils in the TV and just couldn't tune them to another station easily.

        Yeah, that's not actually the case...

        This guy, an engineer I'm guesing, hacked his TV so that it could only watch ITV. TVL or whatever it was back them took him to court and he got fined.

        Were that to happen today, he'd get fined. The license is for owning equipment capable of receiving live broadcast, not for watching the BBC.


    5. SkippyBing

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      Yes, because the NHS are great, for an underperforming overcharging* bureaucracy they hardly kill any people...

      *Compared to the European average in an OECD report.

    6. Sam Liddicott

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      You misunderstand completely.

      One can have a TV in the lounge without needing to buy a TV license which covers the watching of live broadcasts.

      So how does one respond when the TV licensing gestapo knock on the door and ask if you have a TV?

      "No" is a false statement and might be basis for a warrant. "Yes" will only make things more complicated because you don't have a license.

      And even if you don't have a TV in your lounge, you might have a computer with an internet connection, or a mobile phone. These can be used to watch live TV.

      So a better answer might be: Why do you want to know?


      Do I have to answer that question


      I don't want to answer that question

      In my case those answers caused the caller to respond that they would pass my details on for prosecution as I was not co-operating.

      So no, you ought to be able to have a TV in the lounge, and not having a TV in the lounge certainly isn't the end of it anyway.

      I was quite willing to visit with a officer if they could make an appointment but they aren't able to do that. They wish to call at their convenience. The threatening letters they send out are geared towards scaring you into paying.

      I'm not a customer of TV Licensing, haven't been for years and I don't need to engage with them according to their procedures or expectations. They need to learn some manners, no other LEGAL business can be successful by adopting such a threatening attitude to potential new customers.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

        Isn't it a case that the third party company paid by the BBC to enforce and monitor the License Fee is just that, a company with zero legal powers or authority.

        Essentially they have less power than a debt collection agency.

        Its like the detector vans. They don't really exist. All you need is a database and check the addresses not currently paying for a licence.

    7. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

      But the argument is if you only want to watch Sky channels you still have to have a license... owning a TV automatically puts you on a 'wanted list'. Shops demand your address when buying TV equipment so they can pass it on to the enforcers...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Owning a TV is not compulsory.

        That's a legal requirement, as far as I recall...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shops demand your address when buying TV equipment

        Since when? I've never been 'forced' to give my address when buying a TV (and I have done so a few times in the last few years) and have never heard of anybody else being forced to either. The last one I bought was for a relative anyway, so how would my address help?

        If a shop ever insisted on my address I'd either a) lie, as it is not against the law to give a false address to anybody other than the law, or b) Tell them to f**k off and walk out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shops demand your address when buying TV equipment

          I think all of the big chains (Tesco, Currys etc.) now require at least a post code when your buying reception equipment.

          Next time I'm asked, I might just have to answer W1A 1AA...

  14. CABVolunteer

    I'm happy too!

    You can count me amongst those happy to pay an annual fee to avoid having programmes interrupted every 10-12 minutes by advertizing.

    1. Martin
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'm happy too!

      Only every 10-12 minutes?

      I was in the US a few years ago, and happened to catch "Tommy" on the TV. I don't remember exactly how often the ads were - though they were frequent, and seemed to get more frequent as the film went on. What I DO remember is the final "See Me, Feel Me" song which goes on for about five minutes was actually interrupted TWICE by adverts.

      10-12 minutes? You wer looky!

      Yes- the twelve quid a month I pay for the TV licensing is worth every penny. If for no other reason than to prevent the ads getting more and more frequent on Sky and the others.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    money handed to it on a plate

    the BBC gets millions of pounds from people of varying financial background, unlike other taxes enforced on the population it is not means tested...and you get a derisory reduction for being blind.

    the money just handed to it on a plate means that the organisation is bloated, wasteful, heavily bureaucratic, institutionalised and, as proven with Jimmy Saville etc hiding a corrupted core in its working practices.

    it is failing in its duty - and seems to also not be offering (as it used to) a better service - instead driving to the bottom of the pile with the same 'reality/talent' trash that the other channels have. its news service is now so dumbed down that most people will actually LOSE IQ when watching the news.

    either a total ground up rebuild of the system is needed, or they need to change the license to separate from having free-to-watch TV (why should people pay for just having a TV? what if they only watch Sky on their TV set?) and wanting to watch BBC services.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: money handed to it on a plate

      "unlike other taxes enforced on the population it is not means tested"

      Having a TV is not mandatory.

      "the money just handed to it on a plate means that the organisation is bloated, wasteful, heavily bureaucratic, institutionalised and, as proven with Jimmy Saville etc hiding a corrupted core in its working practices."

      Just like the NHS the Beeb not perfect (e.g. Mid Staffs death scandal), but just like the NHS it's still better than any alternative.

      "why should people pay for just having a TV?"

      You don't have to. It's quite legal to have a working TV and not pay the license fee. Be prepared for an argument mind you.

      "what if they only watch Sky on their TV set?"

      Two things. 1) The set is capable of receiving broadcast and is actively being used for same, so needs a license as you could be watching the Beeb; 2) Sky is orders of magnitude worse than the BBC.

      The NHS is being ripped apart and replace with something worse, more expensive and much more dangerous. Just as the railways were. And you want to offer up the BBC to the same altar?

    2. Vimes

      Re: money handed to it on a plate

      Don't pensioners get free TV licences?

      Personally I have more of an issue with their online news rather than their TV offerings. How many people have noticed that they rarely seem to exceed one sentence per paragraph in their articles?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: money handed to it on a plate

        'Don't pensioners get free TV licences?'

        I think it's only those 80+.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: most people will actually LOSE IQ when watching the news.

      So how long were you watching news 24 before making that post?

    4. P. Lee

      Re: money handed to it on a plate

      If you're blind, but still watch TV, you deserve derision... or to pay the license fee.

    5. smudge

      Re: money handed to it on a plate

      > seems to also not be offering (as it used to) a better service -

      > instead driving to the bottom of the pile with the same 'reality/talent' trash that the other channels have.

      Suggest you investigate some of the buttons on your remote control. You'll find wonderful things called "BBC2" and "BBC4".

      Have just finished catching up on Howard Goodall's "Story of Music". Absolutely superb.

      And last night's drama-doc about Richard Feynman and the Challenger enquiry - made by BBC Scotland, I noticed - was most excellent (even if William Hurt made Feynman more of a hick than he actually was).

      Not to mention all the radio stations, too...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: money handed to it on a plate

      re "the money just handed to it on a plate means that the organisation is bloated, wasteful, heavily bureaucratic, institutionalised and, as proven with Jimmy Saville etc hiding a corrupted core in its working practices."

      sounds just like the Catholic Church !

    7. JDX Gold badge

      Re: money handed to it on a plate

      Ah yes. No pedophiles in the private sector. THINK OF THE CHILDREN

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: money handed to it on a plate

        so just the public sector ones then....

        er okay

  16. Vimes

    ... almost all at the bottom end of the socio-economic scale...

    I wonder how many of these people still managed to find the money for a Sky subscription? And how much of this failure to pay is down to them simply refusing to do so rather than not being able to?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      I wonder why people on benefits don't get free TV license... all the "they should be getting a job" stuff aside, it would surely make sense not to pay them benefits which they then spend on a TV license... or more likely don't spend and watch illegally.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Vimes

        @Larry F54

        The authorities must think that enough people in this social group have Sky, since one of the much vaunted anti-fraud tools they now have at their disposal includes access to Sky TV bills in order to chase down benefit cheats.

        Such cheats are the very sort of people that would be included at this end of the 'socio-economic scale' if only their officially declared income was included.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Larry F54

          Wrong. TV Licence marketing do NOT have access to Sky subscription information. I assume you work for TVL?

          1. Vimes

            Re: @Larry F54

            I never mentioned TVL. Please stop making assumptions.

            In any case since when would they have anything to do with chasing benefit cheats?

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Sky dishes

      Well our row of houses more or less lines up with a row of social housing.

      From the back garden, every social house has a Sky minidish. Private a few have Sky, a few no dish, I have a dish for Freesat and deliberately bought a bigger dish with a brand on it.

  17. frank ly

    re. "... watching a live broadcast"

    I assume you mean watching a broadcast, at the time is is broadcast, as opposed to watching a 'catch up' service version over the internet?

    This would be different from the 'traditional' meaning: 'a broadcast of an event, real time, as it happens in the real world'.

  18. Jon Green

    Be happy, and enjoy your viewing!

    This is a public announcement from Miniluv. Happiness is compulsory, citizen.

    1. Jon Green

      Re: Be happy, and enjoy your viewing!

      Hmmm, seems like some people haven't read 1984...

    2. Dan Paul

      Re: Be happy, and enjoy your viewing!


      You beat me to the Orwell reference, One + for that!

      Is it just me or is more and more of daily life (everywhere) imitating Orwell, Monte Python or other dystopian media/literature?

      Doesn't that poster for "" for instance look a bit like the Laughing Man logo from "Ghost in the Shell" anime?

      Better check out that website if you want even more outrage, the whole thing looks like a "tile inspired" interface we all know and love.

      If I lived in the UK I'd gladly go without TV. Seems that paying that tax results in more of this mentally and emotionally retarded nonsense. Thoughtcrime is alive and well in the UK.

    3. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Be happy, and enjoy your viewing!





  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want to like the BBC

    it is certainly good to have programmes that don't have to worry about commercial interests. i.e. ones who are having a go at BIG companies (Watchdog), and programmes that would just not be that profitable in the commercial world. (most stuff on BBC4 , which I watch a fair bit)

    But like all good things there is a downside.

    I haven't worked or been in the BBC but if I had to guess it will be like some 1970s monolithic state enterprise, without any true accountability. Lots of people empire building, lots of wasteful exercises, lots of dossers dossing. Did I forget to mention heavy unionisation ? I guess I don't blame any of those there, after all they are only doing it in their own self interest. ( I did once work in a large state run enterprise, that was all of the above. Where I currently am in private enterprise , it also has its major issues too)

    I guess we'll miss it if the BBC goes, but loathe it whilst it extracts the TV tax.

    My major issue is who owns the content the BBC produce ? After all it is a compulsory TV tax on the people of the UK. I don't mind them charging everyone NOT in the UK to watch the content, but charging people in the UK again ? I don't think that is fair. My parents and their generation paid for the stuff made in the 60s , 70s, 80s, and 90s. Surely that should be open sourced , at least to the people of the UK who were forced to pay for it in the first place. The more modern content that my generation is being forced to pay for once it is over a week old ( if you haven't PVR-ed it) because that is how long the DRM on iplayer lets you view most stuff. I can understand how the BBC can't put non-BBC content on iplayer indefinitely because they don't own it. But BBC content, surely we can have that for a bit longer, if not indefinitely in the UK. After all we were FORCED to pay for it.

    1. Dom 3

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      <sigh> It is not compulsory. I had neither TV nor licence for over a decade.

    2. Andy Fletcher

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      I like the BBC. The alternatives in other countries sound abysmal. But I agree - why can't I as a license payer see the entire Horizon back catalogue? I've paid after all and continue to pay.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: I want to like the BBC

        Back catalogue stuff is probably limited by the contract with the performers.

        Prior to the VCR age, stuff was only expected to be seen about once.

        After then, the contracts probably became more geared towards allowing for repeats without having to pay the original performers too much.

        But if the contract says X is to be paid so much each time the programme is broadcast, it might get expensive to show material.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I want to like the BBC

        They did announce something similar about a year ago called "Project Barcelona" - it's supposed to be a kind of iTunes arrangement:

        Before that ISTR GReg Dyke wanted a free archive of all old BBC material made available for download, but when he left it seemed to go quiet.

      3. Naughtyhorse

        Re: I want to like the BBC

        <cough>it's available at tpb<cough>

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I want to like the BBC

        Re: back catalogues.

        In most cases it is to do with licensing of music, video or pictures from other rights holders. The BBC licensed them for original broadcast only and they would need to be relicensed. An even worse situation exists for older dramas where they would need to clear the rights with the agents or estates of the performers.

    3. Jonathan White

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      'I haven't worked or been in the BBC but if I had to guess it will be like some 1970s monolithic state enterprise, without any true accountability'

      I haven't worked at or been in the BBC but if I had to guess Id' say it will be like an episode of Chorlton and the Wheelies, staffed by small creatures with no legs and a genial dragon and constantly menaced by a witch with a regional accent.

      My guess is just as valid as yours.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: I want to like the BBC


        new kbd pls

    4. jxp

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      OK, I'll bite.

      Firstly no-one is forced to pay for the BBC. You are completely free to not have a Television. Some people I know have no TV, they don't seem either culturally deprived or overjoyed at their freedom. It's not a big deal.

      Secondly the TV license pays for a service of TV channels, radio channels, catch up service and websites.

      When you pay the fee you can access the services legally. The channels are still there whenever you want to watch them.

      I am pretty sure the iPlayer time restrictions are to pacify commercial rivals.

      I would agree that the BBC should be better at making archive material more widely available.

      However the people involved in this material (actors, writers etc.) are due fees whenever their material is shown.

      Should the BBC produce less new material to cover these fees from the TV license?

      How popular are more repeats (archive material) at the expense of new content?

      How should the content be released?

      Would the BBC invoke costs for curating/preparing such a release?

      I think the most reasonable thing BBC could do for archive material is;

      1. have a regular archive slot (probably on BBC4) - they do show some archive material already

      2. Allow older content (5 years+) to be downloaded or streamed for a small fee (99p per episode) via iTunes/Amazon/YouView/wherever

      3. Setup commercial channels to show archive material (UKTV)

    5. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      It's a competition thing. Take the BBC's radio plays, for example: If the BBC made their entire back catalogue available on demand, it would make life hard for commercial rivals, such as those producing audio books.

    6. Vimes

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      But BBC content, surely we can have that for a bit longer, if not indefinitely in the UK. After all we were FORCED to pay for it.

      I suspect that it boils down in part to the infrastructure needed to support things in the background. More programs would require more space (and possibly more bandwidth as more people find a reason to use it).

      As for the rest what I personally find irritating is the way in which programs created for the BBC but not owned by them - the new Sherlock for example - gets shown on Netflix in the US, but not Netflix in the UK.

    7. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      BBC have been selling their content on DVD and before that VHS for decades. Why does living in the digital age suddenly mean that just because you can download TV programs, they should be free?

      How do you know the BBC budget doesn't rely on selling DVDs and stuff, rather than on the licnese fee which is merely a subsidy rather than the entire budget? i.e. if they made the content free, but put the fee up 50%, would you be happy?

      1. MrXavia
        Thumb Up

        Re: I want to like the BBC

        I would be happy to pay 50% more a year and get full access to the BBC's entire back catalogue of TV & Radio...

        Only if I can download and play on any device of course, DRM just pisses me off... and streaming is no good when I am in the air....

    8. Grumble
      Thumb Up

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      Unfortunately, I think that much of BBC output is made by independent production companies that the BBC buys from. How often these days the you hear a programme sign off with words along the lines of " This has been an (insert a name here) production for the BBC? I cannot recall exactly when this started to be so but I don't remember it from my younger days. So maybe a lot of the broadcast output is not owned by the BBC anyway these days but the rights are owned by the production companies and iplayer availability is just part of the contract.

      All that aside, I'd pay the licence fee for Radio4 and BBC4 alone I really would, the rest I view as a bonus.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want to like the BBC

      Unfortunately you're living in dreamland if you think that "BBC content" is owned by the BBC. The vast majority of "BBC content" is owned by the writer/production company, even if it was 100% funded by the BBC.

      You'd think that having what's very close to a monopoly position in the UK that the BBC luvvies would be able to negotiate rights which are somewhat fairer to the taxpayers who fund them but no that's apparently "not possible". This only becomes understandable when you realise there's shitloads of people/small production companies who do no work for anyone other than the BBC and thats where the funding goes without inconveniences like tax or NI being paid. Most of these "companies" are personal service companies for that reason and its a trouging merry-go-round.

      Strange how IR35 doesn't apply to the luvvies mmm? One can only assume that they have a right of substitution but that's laughable when you're talking about presenters/actors/producers.

      Anyway I digress but you'll find the BBC owns bugger all of "BBC content" past the early 1980s.

  20. Jon Press

    Compulsory Tax

    I'm not quite sure what voluntary taxes are supposed to be surpassed in iniquity by the compulsory TV licence.

    The TV Licence is a great and rare example of democracy delivering public benefit cost efficiently.

    1. g e

      It's not a tax

      Because you pay the same regardless of whether you earn 10k or 10M a year.

      Does that make it a tithe?

    2. Richard 120

      Re: Compulsory Tax

      I cycle to work and don't own a car, apparently VED is grossly injust according to the majority car drivers in the office, because I don't pay it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Vimes

    Admittedly this may not have been handled as well as it could have been had a little more thought been put into dealing with this.

    However do you seriously expect the BBC and others to not make at least some attempt to point out the advantages of the BBC when you have the likes of Rupert Murdoch relentlessly attacking it? Are they really supposed to just sit there and watch themselves be manipulated into oblivion by the parts of the media that see only the potential for increased revenue coming in as a result from the BBC's destruction?

    A publically funded broadcaster also serves as a valuable counterweight to the commercial pressures that would otherwise unduly influence broadcasters, and may even encourage the commercial broadcasters to be better behaved than they might otherwise be. I seem to recall in particular an old story from way back where one of the French car manufacturers got particularly angry with a review of one of their cars on Top Gear. The MD wanted to stop all advertising with the BBC. He had to be told by some unlucky lackey that they didn't carry any advertising, so there was nothing to cancel...

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the customer is king

      "For commercial TV, the customers are king --- those are the advertisers. We viewers are the merchandise and the programmes are just the bait."

      Yes, comrade.

  23. ISYS
    Thumb Up

    A tenner a month for...

    A choice of

    Approx 15 National Radio stations

    40 local Radio stations

    Approx 20 TV Channels (2 of which are HD) plus local TV

    all free of advertising - BARGAIN!

    1. jason 7

      Re: A tenner a month for...

      Yep and none of them really targeting you as a consumer. Just the odd blink and miss it bit here and there.

      That's the problem with the BBC, always appealing to someone other than you.

      1. ISYS

        Re: A tenner a month for...

        I used to have a Sky subscription but got rid of it because I found that most of the time I was watching channels which were 'free to air' anyway.

        The BBC does appeal to me and as I stated it is only a tenner a month. The rest of the time I watch films on DVD and if there really is an American series that I must see I can always buy it on DVD for less than one month's Sky subscription.

        1. jason 7

          Re: A tenner a month for...

          Only costs £2 for a US TV series season boxset for two weeks from your local lending library.

          We've just powered through 4 seasons of Fringe for £8! Bargain!

          No advert, no torrents and no waiting.

    2. david bates

      Re: A tenner a month for...

      And all I want is about 30% of ONE national radio station and probably less that 1 of the TV output, based on what I bother to track down.

      And there is a LOT of advertising - just for BBC products and services.

      Its a bargain Im not prepared to fall for.

    3. Minophis
      Thumb Down

      Re: A tenner a month for...

      A bargain is only a bargain if it's something you actually want.

  24. Robin


    "We also learn that the Welsh "derive more happiness from watching sport (82 per cent)" than any other genre."

    Was this survey conducted on Saturday evening?

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: Chwaraeon

      We also learn that the Welsh "derive more happiness from watching sport beating England (82 per cent)" than any other genre"

      Fixed that for them.

  25. AceRimmer1980

    and in other news

    "Turkeys love Christmas", says a recent survey from Bernard Matthews.

  26. Esskay

    I spent a couple of weeks in the UK

    And If I lived there I'd gladly spend a bit to get a TV network without those god-awful Go-compare ads, or a fucking meerkat that talked shite.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: I spent a couple of weeks in the UK

      I don't see those adverts, I skip them!

      1. Vic

        Re: I spent a couple of weeks in the UK

        > I don't see those adverts, I skip them!

        You skip them?

        Fetch me my angry trousers, Spencer. I'm madder than I've every been.


  27. James 100

    Missed opportunity

    I wish they hadn't leaped at the chance to remove encryption support from Freeview STBs when they took control; if the BBC encrypted the TV output and issued decryption cards/keys/whatever on payment of their subscription, they could abolish the whole "enforcement" setup: no payment, no BBC services, so you're not getting anything without paying for it.

    For the tiny amount of output from the BBC I watch, they represent atrocious value and I'd cancel in a heartbeat (I don't care that the content is ad-free, since I have no interest in it anyway!); £1 an episode for Dr Who would be much better for me. I'm happy to pay for a Sky subscription, because I actually get value from that: I watch those channels. Lose those, I'd get rid of the TV too, or just keep it for DVDs and the odd console game - for some odd reason, my house doesn't even have a TV aerial. (It was pre-wired for cable, in the early days of the cable build-out; my inner cynic suspects the cable company persuaded the builders to skip fitting an aerial...)

    1. Richard Neill

      Re: Missed opportunity

      Don't forget - even if you don't watch the BBC, it keeps the competition honest. If you ever watch TV in the USA, you'll see what a race to the bottom looks like!

      1. earl grey

        race to the bottom looks like

        I like a nice bottom from time to time.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missed opportunity

        "If you ever watch TV in the USA, you'll see what a race to the bottom looks like!"

        Some of the best programmes have come and continue to come from the states (in some genres, the only decent programmes recently, e.g. science fiction). And if you looked at your channel line up on Freeview objectively, you'd say much the same about the UK (n number of god channels, shopping channels, wtf channels, psychic channels, etc.).

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now that F1 is on Sky, I watch absolutely nothing on the BBC, and I listen to Classic FM exclusively in the car. I would happily pay per view for the occasional excellent content like The Blue Planet or Wonders of the Universe, but there's reasonable alternatives on National Geo etc anyway that are not produced by the Beeb.

    The main output seems property pushing propaganda because the BBC staff are clearly is up to their necks in buy to let mortgages. News content is far better served via the internet where one can find a plethora of objective opinion, rather than the incredibly poor journalism spouted via the vested interests/ignoramuses at the Beeb.

    I'm happy to pay for Sky - that's my choice, but in my case, I view the licence fee as pure extortion.

  29. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Money's got to come from somewhere

    Either TV licence, general taxation, advertising, or a combination thereof. If there's general taxation there's generally more political strings attached. If there's neither TV licence or general taxation then you get something like Spanish TV. What the UK's got works and produces high quality TV.

    1. Robin
      Thumb Up

      Re: Money's got to come from somewhere

      "If there's neither TV licence or general taxation then you get something like Spanish TV."

      If you're referring to the ads:

      Advertising breaks during a film is one thing and is fair enough, even if they do put them literally halfway through sentences. Having a 15 minute break about 5 minutes from the end of the film is just cruel!

      If you're referring to the quality:


      p.s. I do love their idea of scheduling though. You get kids films showing at about 22:00 on a school night and decidedly non-kids films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a Sunday afternoon!

  30. billium

    unfair tax also

    Have a large family with couch potatos, it is great value for money. For a single person who rarely watches, it is poor value for money.

    @ ac 10:01 yes .. remember the £18M Ross affair and the proposed cuts for the great Radio 6, but we are not forced to pay it. @vimes ... unlikely.

    I don't have a TV or licence, but am feeling a little guilty as I am sat here listening to the BBc's most expensive radio transmission!

  31. dougal83

    Don't watch normal tv...

    I'd be much happier if the bbc channels were encrypted. For owning a tv and therefore paying a licence fee means I pay Miranda Harts wages, which makes me deeply unhappy.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ditching my TV made me telehappy.

    As others have said, going back to one television between a few households works wonders both socially, since the one thing you and a group of friends do want to watch becomes a social event, and financially.

    I was at university when my annual license renewal came through and I realised it hadn't been turned off News 24 for a year. That was when I quit.

  33. jacobbe


    Half of the output is utter tripe. They could do a basic TV service of news and current affairs for half the current licence fee, say £50 and let the market provide the entertainment .

    How many mind numbing game shows and celebrity challenge shows or chat shows do we need?

  34. David Hicks

    Sounds like someone doesn't want to pay for their BBC

    What's that word you love so much... ? Ah yes, that's it FREETARD.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Shamalam
    Thumb Up

    A big fan.

    A big fan of the TV license here. One of, if not the best value for money fee's I pay. Excellent VFM.

  36. Andy 97

    For 41p a day, I say, keep the tax.

    Has anyone actually watched ITV recently?

    Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    The BBC isn't perfect (far from it), but compared to the alternative, it's premium content.

    1. NogginTheNog
      Thumb Up

      Re: For 41p a day, I say, keep the tax.

      We've been watching Broadchurch, which I have to say is very good so far and you can almost forget it's on ITV! Luckily for scheduling convenience we record it and so skip through the ads with a few button presses.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: For 41p a day, I say, keep the tax.

        You are right about Broadchurch. But I think one of the reason ITV has these premium shows (like Downton Abbey) is they have to compete with the BBC. I think if the TV licence goes, it won't just be the BBC channels that get worse.

    2. david bates

      Re: For 41p a day, I say, keep the tax.

      No, Ive not watched ITV recently. Or the BBC, come to that...

  37. gojump

    Real choice should be possible

    Why can't the BBC's TV services be encrypted and if you have paid your fee to obtain your licence, it is sent to you as a smart card (or licence key) for a "top up TV" like service. Then people who wish to own a TV to watch the commercial channels can do so without the ability to watch anything provided by the BBC.

    I know there are probably some technical challenges to overcome, but it should be possible.

    iPlayer (or any other web based services) could be made to require an account and the use of your licence number.

    That way it really does become a user pays system.

    (Maybe one news channel one national radio stations should be left open and separated and then funded by general taxation.)

    1. Tachikoma

      Re: Real choice should be possible

      The BBC would never agree to that as people *would* go for it, and it would cost the Beeb a lot of money in lost revenue. By making it accessible to all, anyone who wants to watch live TV is forced to pay.

  38. The Axe

    License fee is only cheap because everyone pays

    The license fee is cheaper than a Sky subscription only because everyone pays. So if you don't watch much BBC TV you are subsidising those who do watch a lot of it. You are also subsidising the creation of expensive programmes watched by only a few people. If people who actually watch the BBC paid a fee, then it would be comparable with Sky's.

  39. Antony Shepherd

    Well, I'd rather pay the BBC a small sum each month than pay a lot more to either beardy Branson or billionaire tyrant Murdoch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nail head? So your CHOICE is you would rather pay the BBC - what about our choice not too?

  40. Zach 2
    Thumb Up

    Well I would happily pay £10 per month

    Just for BBC Radio; Radio 4, 5 Live, 6 Music and the World Service alone are worth £150 / year. Which is the same as Spotify Premium. Which I also gladly pay.

    The TV service is not only advert free, it's pretty much the best in the world;

    Comedy: Monty Python, Blackadder, The Office, Fawlty Towers & The Young Ones to name but a few.

    Drama; like Doctor Who, Torchwood, Life on Mars

    The BBC really shines with documentaries, Planet Earth, anyone ? - A history of Britain, Tribe, Ancient Rome & Life on Earth.

    What about films like,The boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Dutchess and Billy Elliot ?

    This doesn't even nearly touch the surface, but in addition to programming it also helps run fantastic skills workshops, young persons grants and other community projects.

    All this is easily worth the equivalent of 2 pints in Covent Garden. And I would rather it was paid directly rather than having 30% stripped from my contribution if paid via the normal stealth tax route.

    Just my 2 pence.

  41. SiempreTuna

    BBC is a bargain!

    The problem is that, outside of the BBC, the TV market is gradually becoming a Sky monopoly. Virgin, TalkTalk and the rest are essentially Sky re-sellers.

    Sky currently costs most people around 3 or 4 times what the price of the TV license - for a stream of adverts occasionally interrupted with brief program breaks. If you remove the - very reasonable - license fee, the BBC will go the way of other independent TV stations and Sky will be left with an effective monopoly. How much are they going to charge then?

    Sure, Sky has a lot of political support, particularly on the right: they have a bit of a history of influencing politicians .. and not for anyone's good but their own.

  42. MrXavia

    I like the BBC, programming is generally better quality programming than ITV...

    There are no adverts, which I like..

    One of the reasons I won't have sky is a it has adverts, if I am paying I want no bloody adverts!

    Seriously the BBC does the best programming on british television, followed closely by Ch4

  43. Phil W

    Having a TV and TV Licence is not compulsory....

    .....but then neither is watching the BBC.

    I believe the TV Licence and the BBC represent good value and provide quality programming.

    However, I also believe the TV Licence is unfair on those who want to own a TV and will never watch BBC broadcasting

    For my sins, I am a Virgin Media Cable TV customer, and while I do watch BBC channels so am not making this argument for myself I'm sure there are a fair number of Virgin customers who do not watch anything BBC related.

    Personally I don't see it as fair to them that they should pay for a TV licence when they watch none of the BBC content it pays for, and do not receive any RF broadcast which it also pays for.

    1. Andy Kay

      Re: Having a TV and TV Licence is not compulsory....

      I totally agree with you. But be prepared to be downvoted by the BBC lovers.

      Yes I know it's 'the law' to have to pay this TV tax, but times change and this should too.

      I have Sky, but don't watch anything BBC. They have, what 2 channels, then another 2 after 7pm? Prime time they have 'The One Show' and Eastenders? Erm. No thanks. The odd imported US show on BBC Three maybe?

      I prefer my Knowledge pack from Sky where I can record documentaries and watch them whenever I get a few minutes. I like most people with a PVR fast forward adverts so no bother there.

      If I had the option, I'd prefer an opt-out of the BBC TV Tax.

      Yes I understand there are a lot of BBC supporters out there who can't live without it, so there should be a subscription service so you can keep your 2/4 channels advert-free.

      It's about time the TV Tax stepped into the 21st century.

      1. Phil W

        Re: Having a TV and TV Licence is not compulsory....

        Unfortunately you'd still need to pay for a TV licence to my way of thinking.

        Since you have Sky, you're going to need to pay for the licence to receive the satellite RF broadcast.

        VM doesn't fall into this area since it's a physical media infrastructure.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Having a TV and TV Licence is not compulsory....

        "I have Sky, but don't watch anything BBC"

        Hands up who actually believes that statement?

        Thought not....

      3. Iain Thomas

        Re: Having a TV and TV Licence is not compulsory....


        One wouldn't want a BBC subscription system as draconian as Sky+.

        Stop paying for a channel pack, and not only do the live channels go, but so do any recordings you made from those channels in the past.

        And if your system encounters a fault (dish moved/lnb fault/cabling fault/sufficiently heavy snow) that prevents live-tv, good luck watching any recordings from any channel.

        Sky also charge on a per-receiver basis; if you want to watch another channel in another room, that's another tenner a month. Plus you are required to have a phone line, with all the boxes connected to that phone line.

        It's also a requirement to use Sky-brand approved equipment to receive their service.

        I dare say there may be scope for improvement, and the behaviour of TVL is arguably repugnant (even when it's their fault, the letters threatening court arrived before the letter advising that a technical error had occurred which stopped the debit card payment going through so they'd revoked the licence they posted earlier).


        Regards, Iain.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Having a TV and TV Licence is not compulsory....

          Actually one of the things I hate about Sky are the rules.

          Their kit, phone lines, multiple subscriptions.

          On/ITV Digital at least broke one of those with their CAM system, I had it for a year or so on my old Sony Wega IDTV, so I had Sonys idea of a user interface, I had a high quality (possibly best of that era) digital tuner of the old much missed Sony UK Digital TV group, I had a remote which was not lopsided - I HATE lopsided remotes. Pity there were only two channels in the £3 a month subscription we actually watched and dropped it when they dropped those channels.

          As to cards, well 2 working PVRs, a TV, I would need 3 cards, and 2 CAMS - stuff that!

  44. Richard Boyce

    Ask a silly question..

    If you ask if water is wet, less than 100% would agree, simply because if you ask a sill question, you sometimes deserve a silly answer. So, if you ask if comedy makes you happy, treat the answers with caution.

    Also, in any survey, you might also take into account that a lot of people are quite amazingly stupid.

  45. Really Anonymous Coward


    Don't want to pay a TV Licence - don't watch TV.

    On the other hand, unless you can avoid buying anything advertised on TV, you're paying for ITV and Sky, whether you have a TV or not.

    Yet to be convinced the former is less fair than the latter.

  46. Ben Bawden

    Starling insight

    "An incredible 142,375 people were convicted and sentenced in 2011 for not paying for a TV licence last year - almost all at the bottom end of the socio-economic scale"

    Shocking revelation, that people who are socio-economically worse off are more likely to commit crime.

    Not sure how that is a indictment of the TV Licence though.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "prison sentences for non-payment"

    That's way too harsh.

    It is British TV after all, hardly worth prosecuting over.

    Must go, my VPN into your Brit catchup TV is waiting.

    No TV tax here Nigel.

    - Bruce

  48. jason 7

    I was always a big supported of the TV licence...

    ....but over the past 5 years or so we find ourselves watching less and less of the BBC's output in our house.

    We recently did a check and found the only BBC produced show we watched was Being Human.

    Now £120.00 is getting quite expensive for a show we could rent from the library for £2 on DVD.

    BBC programming has nosedived bigtime. It's stretched itself too thin and works too hard trying to cater to certain demographics. Those of us wanting great involving drama with actors and in-depth documentaries fell a little left out.

    Better stuff coming from the US.

  49. Matthew 3

    Non-Brits should be able to pay

    The Beeb should provide a facility for anyone outside the UK to have full paid-for access to all their services. And maybe a pay-per-view Lovefilm/Netflix style interface for their back catalogue.

    My relatives in the USA and Australia would happily pay at least the same amount of money us Brits do for the same service. Since Sky want £21.50 a month for their ad-encrusted basic 'Entertainment' package I think the BBC is a bargain.

    1. Sporkinum

      Re: Non-Brits should be able to pay

      As a 'murican, I'd pay if I could, but since I can't, I hoist the flag and grab it where I can.

      BTW, I got rid of Cable a year a go and just do OTA, Netflix, and whatever now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Non-Brits should be able to pay

      Here in Aus I have access to all the US/UK (and other) catchup TV shows.

      I pay $35* a year for a fast IP hider, with unlimited bandwidth.

      Easily good enough to watch TV shows with.


      USD 36

      GBP 24

  50. dougal83

    Tax for owning a TV....

    This has never sat well with me on principal as I grew up as a kid. Why on earth do I need a TV licence to play my SNES? <sarc>Luckily enough the broadcast is on DigitalTV and the BBC will now encrypt the TV channels so it is a choice!</sarc> The licence really makes me unhappy as it pays Miranda Harts wages.

    1. Matthew 3

      Re: Tax for owning a TV....

      "Why on earth do I need a TV licence to play my SNES? "

      You don't. The licence covers equipment which is capable of watching programmes at the time that they are broadcast - just don't plug in an aerial.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Miranda Hart

      You seem just a little obsessed with her?

  51. cheveron

    Don't forget radio

    The TV licence also pays for BBC radio, and on that basis I don't mind paying it. However, there's very little on BBC TV that's of any interest to me. About the only thing I'm looking forward to this year is the new series of Luther.

  52. chipxtreme

    I pay £24.12 to Sky a month for every channel and because of this i'm forced to pay the BBC £12.12 a month.

    I've checked the planner and not one thing recorded or due to be recorded are on any BBC channel. The only thing I like to watch on the BBC is Top Gear which is about 7 hours a year.

    I never watch TV live as I prefer recording stuff and watching later so I can fast forward through the adverts. I don't think its fair that I should be forced to pay 50% of what I pay to sky for a couple of tv channels I never watch.


      Does SKY let you not pay for channels you don't want to watch?

      If you want sport and movies, for example, do they insist you pay for some entertainment channels, even if you never want to watch them?

      Thought so.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does one still have to pay the BBC's extortion fee...

    ... if they only watch international TV (mostly NHK streams via KeyHoleTV) online?

  54. Cyclist


    Licence. Not license. FFS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dolts

      I'll admit I was a little surprised that so many can't seem to spell it. Of course, Americans are allowed to spell it wrong because that's correct for them, along with calling their bottoms "fannies" and having gay sex with tobacco products. And shooting people.

      I can only assume that the others gained their education from watching commercial television.


  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did anyone see the TV licensing guy on BBC breakfast - yesterday I think?

    They were talking about the amount of TV viewing that is now done time shifted and by catchup services. Clearly the BBC/TV licensing are already beginning to focus on the issue of the current rules.

    The Licensing guy very vaguely stated that if you watch TV on your phone/ipad you DO need a TV license. Which I believe in almost all circumstances is NOT true - as it almost always is not LIVE TV, and so no license is required.

    It was almost like the whole piece was based around this one clumsy comment to fool people into thinking they still need a license if they only watch catchup services.

    Seems the BBC are starting to panic about the absolute brick wall their revenue is about to hit in the near future. Which is kinda ironic when the iplayer has been the leader in catchup services for the last few years!

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV is doomed I say, DOOMED!

    Several companies are creating YouTube channels, which are direct replacements for free to air TV programs. This is set to expand over the next few years. Advantages for the user include less obtrusive advertising, a wider selection, and permanent availability. Advantages for the broadcaster include worldwide audience and more direct control of the viewing experience.

    I expect the more popular shows to be automatically cached by local ISPs, and individual bandwidth to eventually exceed that which is available on free to air as fibre optic communication is more widely adopted.

    I don't expect free to air TV as we know it to remain profitable for more than 10 years.

    @Jim Hague: There are still no ads on Australia's ABC, which has no licence fee.

  57. Richard Neill

    Swap to general taxation please

    As most people pay the TV license, can we please move to paying it out of general taxation rather than a dedicated license? That would save about 5% of the cost, which is purely wasted on the TVLA. It would also make it fairer on the poorest. Personally, I don't own a TV, but I do use the BBC radio, website, and sometimes iPlayer; i'd be very happy to pay for what is, even with its faults, an exceptional service.

  58. PyLETS

    Didn't have a telly for many years

    I once engaged in an amusingly surreal exchange when a TV Licence collector came knocking on the door. Q. "Our records say you don't have a TV licence". A. "That's correct, I don't have one". Q. "Is there any reason why you don't have a TV license". A. "You don't have a fishing license for the River Wye do you ?" (wild guess, but pretending as if I knew). "No". "Is there any reason why you don't ?". "But I don't go fishing". "Isn't that what you are doing now ? And why would a sensible individual pay to have an open sewer spewing filth into their living room when they could be out fishing on the River Wye ?".

    Well, I married and my better half persuaded me how many good programs there really are on the BBC so I recanted and we obtained a TV and a license. The Africa series was worth a year's license fee alone. And having to endure 25% or more advertising breaks on commercial channels would be unthinkable.

    1. CaptainHook

      Re: Didn't have a telly for many years

      I'm in a similar position, haven't had a TV License since the Analogue signal switch off for our area, then I get a girlfriend and now there are constant comments about getting a new TV cos they are really cheap.

  59. bag o' spanners

    A rusty spork may be required... prod their stupid lazy arses.

    I've had a couple of seriously underwhelming encounters with the pinheads who visit if you don't give in to the threatening letters. They both seemed a bit put out by my reference to television per se as a "waste of valuable leisure time". Apparently "everyone watches tv". Except me. I haven't owned an idiot box for 13 years and counting. I opted out of the communal Sky link when it was being installed in my block, so the only way I can watch stuff of interest to me is via catchup on the web, or by going to the pub. Strange as it may seem, I've only found it worthwhile on a couple of occasions to do either. If I want to see something good from HBO, I'm patient enough to wait for the dvd set. That way, I'm not rationed and relentlessly bombarded with ads while I steam through a series. I also get to do other stuff with the 28 hours the average Briton apparently spends watching hopeless middlebrow garbage each week.

    The interwebs at least have a two way comms capability, whereby we, the huddled masses, can grunt and wave our pitchforks at our great autocratic leaders. And that's probably why tv companies are so desperate to inflict their unidirectional shite tv upon us there.. They're desperate to plug the audience drain. Quite why they think a conscious audience requires bad soap and worse reality shows, when tea, kittens, and filth'n'smut are freely available online, baffles me.

    As far as I'm concerned, they can take their watercooler chitchat dependancy culture, and pour it back up their fundament.

  60. Michael Habel

    Braking this down...

    If paying Taxes make One happy, then by this logic it stands to reason that the good Citizens of Cyprus must all be laughing there arses off tonight!

  61. Richard 126

    How do they actually catch anyone not paying the license?

    I have lived in the UK for 18 years now. In that time I have never had a tv or license and on average receive once a month a letter saying get a tv license or else, you must take immediate action. I now immediately put it in the bin and assume I have complied with their request. In the early days I used to contact them and tell them I had no tv. It made no difference. Generally after 5 months of increasing hysterical letters they send one saying they have opened an investigation then a follow up saying they have authorized an inspector to call on me. Nothing happens, they stop writing letters for 2 - 3 months and they it all starts again.

    In the last 18 years they have actually sent an inspector around 5 times

    Twice I wasn't home and they just left a nasty letter saying if we had caught you you would be in trouble.

    Once I opened the door wearing nothing be a condom and said it better be good you just pulled me out of my girlfriend. Inspector looked embarrassed and left.

    Twice he has said tv licensing nothing to worry about, I just said you are right there and closed the door in his face. He hung around outside for out 10 minutes staring through my kitchen window with an expression on his face like a puppy that has just been kicked and doesn't know why.

    In all this time they have never even bothered to find out my name or get a warrant to search my house. With this level of efficiency how to they catch people.

    1. jason 7

      Re: How do they actually catch anyone not paying the license?

      That's just it, they are nothing more than a subcontracted, half-assed debt collection agency.

      No authority to do anything at all.

    2. Dick Emery

      Re: How do they actually catch anyone not paying the license?

      "Once I opened the door wearing nothing be a condom and said it better be good you just pulled me out of my girlfriend. Inspector looked embarrassed and left."

      This made my day.

      In answer to your questions.

      They do not have authority to enter your premises without a warrant. To obtain one they have to have 'reasonable' suspicion you have a TV (They hear Eastenders through the letterbox or see lights in the window flashing like a TV does or actually see a TV in use). They can then enter the premises with a police officer present in order to check if you are receiving 'live' broadcasts.

      Otherwise you can tell them to F**k off!

      There are no TV licence (sic) vans. The vans are empty and are driven to public places in order to act as a deterrent. They are there mainly to put the willies up those who evade paying. The equipment to detect TV signals is expensive and not very reliable as evidence considering the multitude of ways you can receive signals these days.

      Instead it operates purely on an address lottery. CrAPITA are just legalized bullies who work on behalf of the BBC to check if you have a licence. They work on commission from what I hear so they have an incentive to make shit up if they so choose but they better be able to back it up if they do.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: How do they actually catch anyone not paying the license?

      I get the letters too and I _DO_ have a licence.

      Which means I take a great deal of pleasure in winding up their "inspectors". The last one who showed up on my doorstep took off rapidly when I shouted to the street at large that a TV license inspector was here and "that" was his car. I've never seen a hostile crowd gather so quickly.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How do they actually catch anyone not paying the license?

      They rely on people being silly enough to talk to them and self 'incriminating'. And then signing their form!. Not that it's a crime. It was only made a 'criminal offence' because of possible strategic radio implications after the first world war. Did you know no radios with long wave receiving capability were made in the UK during WWII because of their possible use for receiving enemy transmissions?.

      As an offence, the magistrates hate having to deal with it when they have more significant matters to pursue.

  62. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    NTNON - TV Licence

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NTNON - TV Licence

      And from Spitting Image...

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get your facts straight

    This is why the public continue to pay for their license. They have been fed so much misinformation.

    1. First off a TV license is 'free' to pensioners over the age of 85 (not many then).

    2. It is only compulsory to have a TV license if you are receiving programmes 'as they are being broadcast'. If your TV is unplugged from any such equipment (preferably detuned as well so all you see is snow and yes even if you have a very fuzzy picture you can be fined) then you do NOT have to pay the TV license fee.

    3. You can watch catchup TV from DVD's, Video recordings, PVR's (as long as you can prove they are not receiving live broadcasts) and internets streams without a license. For internet streams that are 'near live' to the broadcasts you will require a license. This information is on the TVL website although you have to dig to find it.

    On the statistics (and this is purely speculation) my theory is that many of those questioned who are happy to pay the fee are people who don't oft visit sites like this who question the 'norm' of what we are fed by the media. A lot of older folk who don't understand how the system works. Mums who can't get enough of soaps and reality TV. Kids and teens who don't give a flying fuck either way since they are not the bill payers. The middle section of workers who are too busy to worry about such things what with having families and wot not to deal with.

    In other words it's only the loners and geeky types (like me) who look further than the end of their noses and debate such ideas. But that's just my opinion.

    I don't pay the fee. I sometimes watch TV. But not enough that I justify paying the tax. I also watch a lot of media I download from the internet. Anime. TV shows from abroad etc. I don't really use iPlayer at all or any subscription services and I certainly would never pay for Virgin or Sky baloney.

    But for those that want to have £150 or more taken from their pockets each year feel free. It really is your choice.

  64. Dave, Portsmouth

    Dear Reg,

    Could you please write a new story to explain to people what the TV License is, what it pays for, and when one would need a TV License. The vast majority of people posting on here haven't got a clue!

    Thanks :-)

    PS - the answers are all on the TV Licensing website.

  65. chrspy

    Best value?

    Is Mr Orlowski a friend of Mr Dacre at the Daily Mail, perhaps? Anti-BBC posters really ought to remember that the "average" British household pays £200+ per year in "advertising premium" on its goods and services towards the commercial media. It pays that money whether or not those in the dwelling can actually receive so many of those channels because they have to pay exorbitant (considering how repetitive the channels are) subscriptions to do so. On that basis the free to air BBC actually becomes very good value....

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: Best value?

        "El Reg should get someone without an anti-BBC bias"

        Writing critically about an organisation isn't bias. Good grief.


  66. This Side Up

    We should have a tv tax

    I mean the BBC should be funded out of general taxation, based on the agreed fee per household. That would get rid of all the costs associated with collecting, administering and enforcing the current licence. British tax payers could then watch tv wherever they are. You would only need to make special arrangements for overseas visitors e.g. a tourist tax.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've got three TVs and only one licence. Who's laughing now?

  68. ThreadGuy

    The worst system...

    Funding the BBC through the licence fee is the worst system imaginable...

    ...except for all of the others.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: The worst system...

      Like Democracy

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The zombies can verilly swivel on a stilleto where the sun doeth not shine; .

    I realised several years ago just how banal and inconvenient broadcast TV is, so stopped watching and stopped paying for a license, yet the fracking zombies have kept sending various coloured letters for several years now, which promptly get shredded and recycled; I have zero respect and complete contempt for these 'special' morons.

    I can get far better quality entertainment and information from books, web sites, and video on and off-line.

    Broadcast media is dinosaur tech; it has become so very obvious that the MSM are a "Brave New World" propaganda and mind numbing media distribution system since the internet provided so many better alternatives. I'm frankly amazed what and how much I have learned since I stopped watching drivel, and it's more fun too!

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the TV licence thing is all a bit Romania under the commies, they want to come and search your pad if you haven't got an idiot box. If people want to watch the government propaganda channel fine, it can't be too hard to do what the cable people do and deny access to non payers- job done.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got no TVs (hence no licence) and a phone that could probably (never actually tried) get a 'broadcast' via t'internet: are the tvl goons going to come at me?

  72. Senior Ugli

    ITV1 is absolutely terrible. If ever a channel can be blamed with making people dumber, then thanks to its terribly made piece of shit promoting reality programs, ITV wins.

    However, when the champions league/europa is on. It is just about watchable

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appropriately on Budget Day...

    "People are watching something that doesn't make them happy? How could this be?"

    I think they must mean news and current affairs. And I honestly don't know why people watch those either.

  74. This post has been deleted by its author

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