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Thread: Living without a TV license?

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    ALT0153™ Rob_B's Avatar
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    Living without a TV license?

    I've pondered living without it before, I've been thinking about it even more recently as streaming services get up to scratch & now the tax sorry 'fee' is going up again I'm 75% swayed.

    This would save me £145/yr for the license & £19/month for Sky = £373 per year, not bad! Another big factor is that I think the family as a whole would watch less TV which is probably more of a reason to do this over the savings. I can always sign up again if I don't get on with it.

    Regarding the legalities, as far as I'm aware as long as I:

    A) De-tune my freeview (built into my TV)
    B) Do not watch any LIVE broadcasts.
    C) Invite the nice inspector man around for a cup of tea & a nosey around.

    I should be fine for 3yrs without hassle (then I have to prove I don't ned it again)

    As far as watching non-live TV goes I've thought of:

    Blu-rays/DVDs/Lovefilm subscription (granted it costs but I choose what to watch & when!)
    Iplayer
    ITV Player
    5 player (or whatever it's called)
    Possibly Sky Player (using my folks' Sky subscription to login)

    I'd buy something like a dual core Acer Revo or similar small but powerful-enough PC, hook it up using HDMI & away I go!

    So, does anyone have any info on the legal side, anyone done this?

    Rob

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    jim
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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    I have been told in the past that having a television capable of receiving an aerial signal is the issue - if it isn't completely and utterly disabled then you have to pay the license fee. That could be utter rubbish, but it's what I've been told.

    The most obvious solution to that (if it's true) would be to use a computer monitor, since it isn't capable of receiving TV signals. Depends on the legal situation, obviously.

    As for the inspector, yeah they'll no doubt turn up at some point. I'm sure if you're amicable with them, I would imagine they'd happily conclude that you don't watch TV and leave you alone.

    If not, then as I understand it you can send them a letter and officially revoke their right of way on your property - so that they aren't permitted to walk up your driveway, and then it's much harder for them to harass you. Mind you, the people who I saw recommending that method were indeed watching television without paying the license fee, so they deserved the harassment.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    I haven't had a TV license for several years now. You need to write to TV licensing stating that you don't use any TV reception equipment you have for watching live TV broadcasts; otherwise you're absolutely fine, legally. EDIT: @snooty - that's a long standing misconception, probably pedalled by TV Licensing in the first place! It's the use, not the possession, of the equipment that matter. AFAIK you don't have to "prove" anything - after all, how could you prove that you didn't watch TV? But they may well send an inspector round to check. I took the co-ax plug off the end of the aerial lead when I sent my letter - after all, if it doesn't have a plug how am I supposed to plug it in?

    The only thing to watch is to make sure you avoid streaming live television from iPlayer, since they do simultaneous live online streams of most of their programming. Otherwise you're probably spot on for the services you can use - although I'd do more research into Sky Player if I was you as you may find you're breaking T&Cs of your parent's subscription which would not be a good thing. You may be interested in http://www.seesaw.com/ - currently in beta, but it's basically an ad supported content aggregator of a lot of the online catch-up services. I only found out about it a couple of days ago so I've not really used it yet, but it looks pretty good.

    Of course, I now have the big advantage that all my reception equipment is so old it only has analogue receivers and the analogue broadcasts here have been canned already, so I genuinely *can't* receive live TV anymore!

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    A friend did exactly what you are talking about a few years back, to keep the inspector happy he fitted a blanking plate over the aerial socket on the wall. They checked it a few times, he allowed the in when they asked, hasnt seen them for a few years

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    ALT0153™ Rob_B's Avatar
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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Well our aerial socket is the other side of the room so I'd have to trail co-ax across the floor (which I wouldn't do) I've ran the Sky co-ax around the skirting which I'd just remove.
    Anyone who says they don't need a license could easily do a switcharoo as soon as the inspector leaves but I'm looking forward to less TV so wouldn't bother!

    They have no legal right to enter your property anyway so unless they get a court order you never HAVE to let them in. The website says (from memory) that they'll book a visit to your home, this stops the threatening letters for 3yrs & as I'd have nothing to hide it's simpler all round to do that.

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post
    I have been told in the past that having a television capable of receiving an aerial signal is the issue - if it isn't completely and utterly disabled then you have to pay the license fee. That could be utter rubbish, but it's what I've been told.
    ....
    It is utter rubbish .... up to a point.

    The offences are in relation to receiving broadvast transmissions, not being capable of it. But there are two grey areas :-

    1) What is "receiving"?
    2) Convincing the licensing guys.

    Dealing with 2) first, the licensing people can be a right nuisance, either with visits or pestering you with letters. One approach is to physically disconnect everything, remove the aerial and then let them check. If they're happy, they may back off on the pestering for a while, Or they may not. In large part, they take the attitude that everyone obviously watches TV, so if you don't have a licence, you're a dodger. And even if you disconnect it and let them in to check, then obviously you're going to reconnect as soon as they go away, so you're still a dodger. So they pester you.

    The second approach is to ignore their letters and when they visit, tell them you don't have a TV and to go to hell. They have NO right to enter your premises to check unless you either give permission or they have a warrant. Of course, they view you exercising your right to deny them entry as prima facie evidence that you have something to hide, and ar therefore a license dodger, so they pester you even more.

    Can they get a warrant? In theory, without evidence of actual use, no. In practice, if they tell a magistrate that they saw it through the window (whether true or not), then quite possibly. So, this approach if telling them to buzz off) might result in them showing up with a warrant (and the police, who are there to ensure no breach of the peace, not to conduct the search). The warrant will be valid for ONE search, within a specified period, and if that finds nothing, another search requires a separate warrant to be issued ... and is going to be a harder sell to the magistrate. And the warrant will be limited to finding offending equipment in use, so no inspecting your porn mag collect or rummaging through the wife's knocker drawer.

    Now, for point 1) - what is "receiving". As I understand it, it doesn't matter of you're receiving a watchable signal or not. It's the technical act of receiving that seems to provide the line, and if a suitable signal goes into a TV receiver and is detected as a signal, then it's "received"., In the old analog days, that meant that the signal the aerial picked up went into a mixer and if the set was tuned by adding in the right IF signal, then a TV signal came out, even if it was little more than white noise and barely noticeable audio.

    And that is why the advice was always to remove the antenna and detune the set. And that includes all equipment capable of receiving, such as video recorders.

    The licensing people used to insist that possessing the equipment was enough and that they didn't have to demonstrate actual usage. They lost that one and had to change their tune. They even apparently lost one case where a set was covered with a cloth, used as a table and had a plant on top. They asked if the set worked and could be seen working, at which point the aerial was plugged in,the set plugged into the mains, the plant and cloth removed and the set turned on ... at which point they took the owner to court. And lost.

    So now, they apparently need to establish that you are receiving, not merely that you possess equipment capable of doing it. BUt the set might well be actually receiving without you being aware that it is, hence the advice to remove aerials and detune.

    What their criteria is for evidence of "receiving" in today's digital and online world, I don't know, I haven't researched this recently enough. But just about any computer, including a good few mobile phones, are capable of receiving live broadcasts over the web, simultaneously with TV transmission, and doing that would require the doer to be covered by a licence. I've certainly heard nothing to suggest that merely owning a mobile phone that could receive such transmission, regardless of whether it ever actually has, requires a TV licence, and there'd probably be riots if they tried to enforce that.

    Suppose you own a suitable phone, and I borrow it for an hour to "browse" the web, maybe HEXUS, while you're working on the computer. Unknown to you, I tune to the BBC and watch a live broadcast. Who needs a licence? You, as the phone owner, or me as the person doing the receiving? Suppose you have a licence but I don't. Are we covered? Or I do but you don't, are we covered then? And how do they prove , to a court, who did what and when? That whole area is an absolute minefield which, as far as I know, has never been tested in court.

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    i heard watching iplayer(anyway) you still need a license dunno about the other streaming players

    just googled it

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcintern...re_a_tv_1.html(dated 2008)

    A question I often get asked is whether you need a TV licence to watch BBC programmes over the internet.

    At the moment, the legal position is that you don't need a licence to watch TV purely on-demand, but you do if you are watching TV live (through any receiving device in the home).
    also found this

    http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.u...ayer/tvlicence

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Lots of useful info here regarding not having a TV license, the powers of the inspectors etc.

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    ....

    They have no legal right to enter your property anyway so unless they get a court order you never HAVE to let them in. .....
    A search warrant rather than a court order, but yeah, basically. The question is how hard that would be to get? There's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that, at least in some courts, it's pretty much a rubber-stamping. As the courts issue these regularly, how much "evidence" does the magistrate require before granting it? All the indications are ... not much and sometimes, perhaps merely the word of the official asking for it. I have that much, as it were, direct from the horse's mouth.

    The limitation seems to be more on the manpower and time resource to enforce the warrants, not the ability to get them. Therefore, while you're still unlikely to be on the receiving end of a warrant, I wouldn't put too much reliance on the fact that it requires an "order" from a court, as they aren't that hard to get.

    You are absolutely right, though, that without that warrant, they have no right to enter or search, let alone to require you to provide answers to questions or write letters. And, of course, an unguarded answer to a question might provide the evidence they need to get the warrant.

    There is, therefore, what you are required to do by law if you don't have a TV (which is, and far as I know, absolutely nothing) and what you might want to do to avoid as much hassle as possible, which is pretty much what you've said you'll do .... disconnect, detune and write a letter. Standing on your right to refuse entry (without a warrant) is within your rights (and me being an awkward git, what I'd probably do) but is also probably not going to minimise their hassling of you.

    Personally, as long as I genuinely didn't have a TV, I'd simply ignore letters and tell inspectors to go away unless they have a warrant. If they do have a warrant, then "knock yourselves out guys, search on .... then go away". But that's because my attitude is that I'm not going to muck about with the hassle of writing letters just to prove to some officious body that I dont have a TV, when I'm under no obligation to prove diddly squat to them.

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    Of course, I now have the big advantage that all my reception equipment is so old it only has analogue receivers and the analogue broadcasts here have been canned already, so I genuinely *can't* receive live TV anymore!
    Thats actually one of the few real uses for the switch over, those that dont buy digiboxes or new TVs may not require a licence

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    Personally, as long as I genuinely didn't have a TV, I'd simply ignore letters and tell inspectors to go away unless they have a warrant. If they do have a warrant, then "knock yourselves out guys, search on .... then go away". But that's because my attitude is that I'm not going to muck about with the hassle of writing letters just to prove to some officious body that I dont have a TV, when I'm under no obligation to prove diddly squat to them.
    Or fill in the online form http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-i...-needed-top12/


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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    Which I'm also under no obligation to fill in.

    If I don't receive TV broadcasts, I don't need a licence. If they think I'm committing an offence, it's for them to prove it, not for me to have to explain why I don't need one.

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    True, but just saying! Bloke at work has no license & always gets letters/etc but he just ignores them (he's legit in doing it) loves the fact he appears to be annoying them!

    Well, just rang Sky to see what the process of leaving is, they've knocked £10.50/month of the bill for the next 6months with no additional contract term so that's a bonus while I consider my options. As I'm with them for landline as well I'd need to move providers for that too, gits..

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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    As I'm with them for landline as well I'd need to move providers for that too, gits..
    The real down fall of having all your eggs in one basket. Some of my family found this out when trying to move away from a complete Virgin package as they just weren't using the TV side of things.

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    True, but just saying!....
    Oh sure. I did say though, ".... and me being an awkward git, what I'd probably do ...". It's the awkward git in me that would decline to fill in the form or send a letter.

    Just for clarity, I do have a licence. But for the wife's affection for Eastenders and a few others, I might be inclined to not bother and dump the TV, but it's more than either my life or even continued good health is worth to suggest it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    ...

    Well, just rang Sky to see what the process of leaving is, they've knocked £10.50/month of the bill for the next 6months with no additional contract term so that's a bonus while I consider my options. As I'm with them for landline as well I'd need to move providers for that too, gits..
    A word of warning .... get that "no contract extension" in writing. I had that argument with NTL. They told me that over the phone, but the letter referred to "new contract" and the T&Cs included a minimum term. Despite several attempts to get them to confirm that in writing, they would not. Claimed they couldn't write such a letter, even manually. So I cancelled completely and left them. So my advice .... cover yourself and make sure you get that confirmed in writing.[/quote]

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    Re: Living without a TV license?

    I have a 42" TV with only one HDMI slot on the back sitting in my living room. It's only for my WDTV Live and Xbox360 to connect, not any kind of live broadcast.

    At first, we just ignored the TV licensing people. Eventually, one of them came to the door, utterly convinced we had been watching TV. My TV is right next to the door, so I invited him and asked him to have a look. I tried explaining that it was physically impossible without a set top box but he was very keen to ignore that and get me to sign a direct debit regardless.

    He said that if I don't sign it, all it takes is for him to come round one evening and look through my window. I just laughed and said do what you want mate, makes no difference. I think his level of technical knowledge was very low.
    ~'Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence--those are the three pillars of Western prosperity'~ Aldous Huxley




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