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TV licence, who are the real criminal?
Written by Caroline Levesque-Bartlett   
Monday, 27 April 2015 14:53
There are many reasons to be upset about the UK government forcing TV viewers to pay £145.50 a year, to one private broadcaster, in order to access other free TV channels.

This "crime" (astonishingly, TV licence evasion is a crime) is affecting women the most. I found statistics showing this. (TV Licence Enforcement Review, 2015)

When you compare it with other similar crimes, it's quite striking.
Proportion of fines imposed in the full 2012 court dataset broken down gender and by the top ten most common offence types from the matched dataset

Offence Type TV Licence Evasion Vehicle insurance offences Speeding offences not detected by camera devices Speeding offences detected by camera devices
Male 32% 83% 79% 74%
Female 68% 17% 21% 26%

Offence Type Over the drink driving limit Failing to provide info on driver's identity
Use of hand held mobile phone while driving
Railway offences under British Railways Board Byelaws
Railway offences under Railway Regulation Acts
Male 82% 79% 86% 78% 82%
Female 18% 21% 14% 22% 18%

(This table called "B.4a" is an attachment of www.gov.uk/government...)

As we know that, out of the 2.24 million people who choose to stay at home to look after their family, 2.04 million are women, the statistic suddenly take an ugly turn. According the Head of Revenue management at the BBC, "When a TV Licensing enquiry officer visits a property, and finds TV equipment being used without a valid licence, they will take a statement from any responsible adult living at the address. It's that person who may then be prosecuted."

In other words, to the BBC, it doesn't matter if the person they prosecute:
a) doesn't own the TV,
b) doesn't watch it, or
c) isn't the one in charge of paying the household bills.

Just knowing someone who is using a TV illegally is enough to be guilty by association

It feels odd to ask 100% of the TV viewers to pay a tax when statistics show that the BBC gets only a 1/3 share of Television audiences. Given the number of channels now available to those who choose to take pay for TV, the BBC no longer commands the monopoly it once did, but still gets a huge almost-no-questions-asked fund due to its unique status. If this is weighed up against the amount of revenue each company has to produce programming and win viewers the remaining terrestrial channels are really 'punching above their weight'.
  • the BBC has a total income of £5,066 million of which £3,726 million from licence fees.
  • Itv has a total external revenue of £2,590 million
  • Channel 4's total revenue is £908 million
  • UKTV (owning Dave, yesterday, etc) has £265 million in revenue.

% SHARE OF AUDIENCE


(source http://www.barb.co.uk/trendspotting/analysis/share-of-viewing-by-channel?_s=4)

In the current context of the election, it's interesting to know that the people who sign this petition are supporters of pretty much every political party.  There seems to be a consensus that the BBC is not as impartial as it claims to be. People who signed the petition often accuse the BBC of having a left wing bias, to be a Tory mouthpiece, to always be pro-Westminster, to be Pro EU, anti UKIP, having given a bias coverage of the Scottish independence referendum, to have a bias in the Gaza/Palestine crisis, you name it.
On top of that, it's interesting to note that the Green party is in favour of abolishing the TV licence (http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/culture,-media-and-sports.html). Even some Polish groups have picked up the petition and translated it (see PolNews http://www.polnews.co.uk/index.php/co-gdzie-kiedy/2434-no-tv-licence-fee.html)
Now, honestly, how often do we see the Greens, Scottish Independence Groups, UKIP, Labour, Conservatives and Polish groups going hand in hand for anything at all?

Please have a look at the petition, and read the reasons for signing that people wrote. The usual reasons include:
  • Many people state that the BBC doesn't feel like good value for money, because there seem to be only repeats, or because they only watch one show (Eastenders is the most common example)
  • Others say they don't watch the BBC at all (or don't want to).
  • Many never got over the Savile cover up.
  • A very large number of people say, that having forked up for a Sky or a Virgin Package already, they feel like they are paying twice for the privilege.
  • Top Gear fans think the BBC should not be entitled to take the people's money without having to listen to what they have to say.

Once you remove the most common comments, there are some gems to be found. I particularly like the analogies people come up with. A few have been comparing the BBC to mouldy bread your supermarket forces you to buy, when going grocery shopping. You may say "but I don't want bread! Especially not THAT one", but you have no say in the matter. Not only is it forced on you, but you have to pay for it even if you discard it. People also compare the TV licence with a fishing licence. You don't need to prove to department of agriculture and fisheries (or the National River Authority) that you don't fish even if you own a fishing rod, so why having to prove to Capita /BBC that you don't watch live TV?

Since there are many reasons to dislike the TV licence, this cause brings together many people that would not really talk together if it wasn't for this common goal and in possibly some of the most divisive times ever that alone has to mean something.

If this level of bullying bothers you and you would like to highlight to Members of Parliament how strong your feeling is on this matter, there is a petition, called "End the BBC Licence Fee", hosted on 38 Degrees. The petition, already signed by thousands, calls for a debate on the future of the licence fee, with the hope the TV licence fee will be abolished in the near future. As the BBC's charter will be up for renewal in 2017, the public should have their say about it. The petition can be signed here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/end-the-bbc-licence-fee