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The end of the BBC?

Being a voluntaryist, I don’t care for government.  I most especially don’t like taxes, coercively extracted with the ever present threat of violence for non-compliance.

It’s probably fair to say there’s no tax I like, but if there is one tax that is the bête noir, the worst of the worst in a crowded field, it’s the telly tax, otherwise known as the licence fee.

Whilst I do not encourage anyone to break the law in the UK, (massively asymmetric struggle, the bastards have all the guns and power) I cannot hep but admire the chutzpah of people I see on ‘Youtube’ simply telling the licence inspectors to get off their land.

However, whilst I’ve always hated this nonsensical charge, the latest revelations of child sex abuse and enablement (as well as for some reason, seeing fatty Patten ambling along) means I cannot pay these swine another penny.

So I have resolved to subscribe to ‘lovefilm’ instant which means you can apparently stream or download various stuff over the internet and rent any amount of DVD’s you care to.  I will however disconnect and throw away the satellite receiver and thus be unable to receive live broadcast TV.

This I understand, discharges my need for a licence.  Do Kitty counters concur with my understanding of the law?  Also, an oddly friendly and agreeable girl in PC world told me that all I need do is buy an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the TV (both have said ports) and hey-ho, I can use the TV essentially like a big computer monitor to watch lovefilm, Youtube etc and my average broadband speed of about 3meg should suffice.  Do Kitty Counters concur with miss yummy from PC world?

I will keep you updated about my success or otherwise, and if this works both technically and practically (I can’t believe there is any terrestrial live output that I can’t live without but who knows), is this a way we could effectively defund the Beeboids?  Could a blog/Youtube/twitter campaign finally nail this twentieth century anachronism once and for all?


  1. john in cheshire says:

    SAOT, I’m also considering what you are planning; have been for a couple of years, now. A friend of mine has no tv, told the tv licence people, he’s not been harassed by them (contrary to some of the awful tales I’ve read about). He uses the internet for catch-up etc and I reckon I could live with that. My problem really is inertia; I need to just do it. So, I’ll be interested to read about how it pans out for you.

  2. Mr Ed says:

    I gave up TV 35 months since, I catch the odd programme (2-3 a month) on catch-up, and I don’t miss it. The odd stay in a hotel for work serves to emphasie the sheer banality of TV, be it Sky or BBC.

    I completed a biennial declaration re TV licensing, rather than waste my time, one second of my day being worth a month of theirs, and when the radio BBC becomes oo biased, I think of my ‘freeloader’ status and chuckle.

    Most of all, I do not passively sit, waiting for another’s schedule of ‘entertainment’ as if I knew no better. TV is as relevant as the telex.

  3. VftS says:

    There is much information here
    and here

    I ditched my box several years ago. After an exchange of letters lasting about 6 months (politely telling them to fuck off), the TV licensing Stasi haven’t bothered me.

  4. Jim says:

    No licence is required to watch non live TV streaming. So unless you have a burning desire to watch QI at the same time umpteen million others do, its no hardship. Pretty much every TV show broadcast is available free somewhere on a streaming site. Get a big monitor/TV, connect it to the PC job done. Better still buy one of these PCs that looks like a TV.

    Take the red pill, the licence fee is compulsory only in your desire to conform………………. :)

  5. Kevin Hughes says:

    I haven’t had a TV for 4 years now; there have been no regrets in this household whatsoever. When you have the Internet there really isn’t a need to watch the broadcast media (other than sporting events – which I watch down the pub). There are a whole host of platforms available to get your news fix and If there has been any entertainment produced worth Watching then it will be uploaded within a few hours.

  6. John Galt says:

    Have to agree with Mr. Ed and the guys. Gave up TV several years ago when living and working abroad for weeks at a time. During my periodic and increasingly rare periods back in the UK & Isle of Man I just found TV schedules frustrating and dull.

    About the only programs I was interested in was QI, occasional documentaries and some movies. All of which could be downloaded from You Tube, BBCiPlayer (over the London office VPN or using ExpatSheild) or from Torrent sites.

    So throw away your decoder box and cancel your TV License, you have nothing to lose but you Shanes (from Eastenders).

    A TV Licensing Officer has no more right of entry to your home than a Gypsy selling heather. The correct response to one of these BBC Goons is to close the door. You should never let one into your home as they have been know to create fraudulent “visit” notes and then have summonsed in one of their local “rubber stamp” court decisions.

    Equally, never sign anything they give you as they have been known to alter the documents (in their favour) before submitting them to court. They are bonused on this and there is rarely any comeback for this sort of TV Licensing perjury.

  7. Mike says:

    Sorry… technically, the law says you need a license if you have any equipment *capable* of showing live time TV. Which your computer, broadband, HDMI cable and big screen definitely is. Very well.

    Technically, you need a license if you so much as take a smartphone into a commercial premises which doesn’t have a TV license.

    I’m with you all the way on how unutterably evil it is to be forced to pay for your own intellectual destruction. But as you say, they have all the guns.

    I’m in the same boat and sadly am moving to a place with 100Mbit broadband cable, so alas I am just going to to have to bend over and take it. I will be motivated to send a couple of letters to the editor though.

    Sorry, SAOT, that’s not the answer you wanted to hear but it’s the way it is.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    Unless you’re into watching live sports, then I can’t for the life of me think why anyone needs a TV nowadays. I have a full satellite package provided for me courtesy of my employer, but the only channels I watch are the sports ones.

  9. Mr Ed says:

    @ Mike: I beg to differ. S363 (1) of the Communications Act 2003

    ‘(1)A television receiver must not be installed or used unless the installation and use of the receiver is authorised by a licence under this Part.’

    To ‘install’ clearly denotes plugging in and wiring up, as the context of the rest of the section makes clear, particularly (5). And if the section meant ‘computer’ or ‘smartphone’, it shiuld have said so.

  10. John Galt says:

    Sorry… technically, the law says you need a license if you have any equipment *capable* of showing live time TV. Which your computer, broadband, HDMI cable and big screen definitely is. Very well.

    Sorry Mike, but that’s bollocks. Even TV Licensing (a trading name of the BBC operated by Capita Plc) have never claimed that to be true. The only successfully claim that they can make is that a person has been watching *LIVE* TV as it is broadcast.

    Equally, you can have all the TV equipment in the world, but WITHOUT a digital Freeview / Freesat / Sky decoder a BBC employed goon from TV Licensing isn’t going to get a picture no matter how hard he wiggles his finger in the aerial socket. This was an old trick used by BBC employed goons from TV Licensing back in the ’70s.

    Most of what these BBC employed goons are trying to do is con the householder into a signed admission of watching TV as it is broadcast. This is because they have a target of getting one signed admission of guilt AN HOUR. Since this and flogging TV Licenses is where they earn their commission, they are somewhat incentivized to do this even if it means pretending they have powers of entry, interrogation and arrest that they don’t have (or at least anymore than you or I).

    They are not going to get a prosecution on the basis of being able to theoretically watch TV programmes live through the internet. The only way they’ve had the few prosecutions thus far is because they’ve had signed confessions from people saying that is what they’ve done (i.e. “watched *LIVE* TV as it is broadcast).

    If you don’t let them into your home and don’t speak to them, they are powerless. All the bullshit about “We’ll get a search warrant is just so much hot air”. The number of search warrants issued by the courts is vanishingly small as FOI requests to police forces have shown – some police forces had made no attendances on record, they are that rare.

    Lets stick to the facts, shall we?

    These FOI responses are provided by the BBC directly and are cleared by their lawyers and they paint a fairly accurate picture of what the BBC CAN AND CANNOT DO in relation to unlicensed households.

  11. John Galt says:

    Also, an oddly friendly and agreeable girl in PC world told me that all I need do is buy an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the TV (both have said ports) and hey-ho, I can use the TV essentially like a big computer monitor to watch lovefilm, Youtube etc and my average broadband speed of about 3meg should suffice. Do Kitty Counters concur with miss yummy from PC world?

    In short – Yes. As long as the TV is fairly new then the HDMI connection will provide high resolution sound and video to the TV. In full-screen mode with BBCiPlayer you can’t tell the difference with normal TV.

  12. John Galt says:

    An excellent and authoritative guide to how to be Legally License Free and deal BBC goons from TV Licensing is available here.

  13. Doug Young says:

    Totally good idea. I have no tv licence and never watch live tv.

    Only wrinkle which might be useful – kids have a Playstation 3, so I can access netflix, iPlayer and all the itv catch ups without a problem and, with a bit of free software, stream all video files (tormented etc) straight from desktop computer to the tv through the playstation.

  14. bloke in spain says:

    Never actually gave up TV at all, in the sense of not having one. Never bothered with a licence in the UK. Abuse is my default setting so giving the bum’s rush to TV Licencing was no hardship at all. Mostly lived in flats so the usual response at the street door was, “No I haven’t” “Yes I know you have ‘power of entry’ but you’ve no way of enforcing it so piss off & come back with a grown up.” No-one ever did. Here, I’m sitting facing a fuck-off enormous wide screen. Spoils of war, as you might say. There’s a dish on the roof that’d pull in the UK channels & the g/f’s Spanish speaking if she wanted the locals.
    Except I never watch it.
    Stopped back in ’87. Year of the Big Storm. I was working down on the south coast renovating some apartments. On my lonesome. Hastings has got to be one of the most goddam awful towns in the UK. There was absolutely nothing to do there. Pubs seemed to be full of old geezers sipping half pints. The one club was one of those places where you can feel your feet sticking to the carpet as you walk to the bar. The only unattached women had the sort of faces usually seen decorating church guttering with bodies to match. So I used to drive down from London & just work until sensory deprivation cut in. Then flee back to the sinful city to decompress enough for another stint. For a little light relief between knocking off & sack time I’d a little portable TV.
    For some peculiar reason, I started getting seriously into East Enders. Odd, because that part of town’s where we come from & comparing the fictional Walford to the reality of that suburb of Dacca confusingly signposted as Poplar is hilarious. But there you go. So there I was, every evening, engrossed in the affairs of Dirty Den at the Albert. Until one late autumn afternoon, the level on the depression meter moved solidly into the red yet again & it was time to retreat back to civilisation. Tidied up, chucked the bag & the portable in the back of the car & headed off up the A21 to civilisation. I’m ploughing through the darkness & driving rain doing about eighty somewhere around Robertsbridge when I lose it, bounce off a tree or three, rotate merrily a few times & come to a halt in a cloud of spray steam & cooked rubber. Get out for a damage assessment, but apart from a dent on every single panel including a whopper in the roof, the old bus is still a viable concern. Which is more than you can say for my underwear. And then it hit me. I’d been pelting flat out. Along a leaf strewn half flooded road. In almost zero visibility. Nearly shook hand with St Peter. So I didn’t miss the start of East Enders. Bollocks to that! Pulled the portable out of the back & lobbed it as a far as I could into the bushes.
    And that was it. End of TV. Oh I acquired another one. Acquired a French wife somewhere along the way as well. But never actually watched it. I couldn’t be bothered & her English was never good enough to keep up with the dialogue. Just got used for the odd French movie tape. But the curious thing is, after years without, now I can’t watch TV. Not in the broadcast flavour anyway. I’ve a stack of films on DVD. The entire M*A*S*H series. For some reason a lot of subtitled Russian stuff. But that’s there for when I want it. I just can’t do the; sit & watch what the channel schedulers are serving up at the moment, thing. I haven’t got the attention span. Even if it’s a thing I’m quite enjoying, I don’t want to do it now. I want to stroll down the bar for a beer. Maybe go back to it tomorrow. I start feeling edgy. Uncomfortable. Trapped.
    Anyone else feel like this? I’m wondering. TV watching’s such an unnatural activity. See it from outside. All these people. In their homes. Sitting watching a flat plate of glass. All laughing in unison at the same jokes. All getting up at the same time to put the kettle on. Like robots. I don’t have this problem with the theatre. (Apart from sometimes missing the rewind button) Or going to see a band. But there you’re part of something, aren’t you? It’s real. It’s happening. Maybe more people are feeling like this. Maybe that accounts for reality TV & the, to me, inexplicable X-factor. (A talent show? Butlins used to have talent shows. I’d endure root canal work without anaesthetic rather than suffer a talent show. Why would you want to watch amateurs when you can watch competent people?) Maybe this is broadcast TV’s last, dying clutch at our attention. Pseudo involvement. I wonder if somewhere down the road we’ll just look back at the BBC, with it’s celebrities & its prime times & its watersheds & all the rest of it as a strange aberration. Something we suffered from for a few decades but recovered.

  15. Jim says:

    @Mike: straight from the horses mouth:

    If you do not watch ‘live’ TV programs as they are broadcast to the public, you do NOT need a TV licence.

  16. Stonyground says:

    @Bloke in Spain
    That was a really entertaining story, thanks for telling it.

    I don’t watch TV much at all and could live without it* but other family members like it so we are stuck with either having a licence or breaking the law. Lots of people do have misconceptions about what is and isn’t allowed, licence free. There are plenty of anti-TV-licence blogs that can give you the facts. If you are going licence free it would make sense to make sure that you know what the rules are because the TV licence goons have been known to tell fibs.

    *Occasionally my work takes me away from home for a night or two. Nowadays hotels just about always have a TV in the room but I hardly ever turn it on, I prefer to take a book. On one occasion when I forgot my book I watched an old film of HG Wells’ Time Machine & an old re-run of Top Gear.

  17. Ornithorhynchus says:

    Many times I’ll get really depressed over all the horrible things the government does here in the US, and I wonder how much happier I might be somewhere else. But then I see things like this to remind me of all the stupidity that exists elsewhere.
    Needing a licence to watch TV– it sounds so ridiculous, I wonder how your government ever convinced people to go along with the idea in the first place.

    I really hope this doesn’t come across as gloating. I know we could spend months talking about all the stupid things I have to put up with over here that you guys don’t have to deal with.

  18. Tom M says:

    I cannot understand the obsession with the TV licence and the smoking ban with the libertarians, I think I am one but then think that I do not want to become a raving lunatic to fit in with these on]obsessions.
    The BBC, despite its leftish bias, is surely worthy paying just over £100 a year for. The alternative is paying £50 – 60 a month for Sky, no original content. I think the alternative, i.e. no BBC, is worse that the status quo.
    The smoking ban, first introduced in Scotland, is the best thing that Henry McLeish ever did.
    The alternative was to walk home stinking of the metabolised by products of a smoker.
    Imagine how a smoker would react if I covered them in the metabolised by products of my alcohol.

  19. John Galt says:

    The BBC, despite its leftish bias, is surely worthy paying just over £100 a year for

    Great – lets encrypt the TV channels supported by the license fee and sell decoder cards to everyone who coughs up £145 a year. The BBC might even save some money by not having to send out monthly “Threatograms” under their TV Licensing pseudonym, the door knocking goons sub-contracted by Crapita as well as the rubber stamp court sessions and PR bullshit.

    Excellent, perfectly acceptable market solution and everybody is laughing.

    The only problem is, if you take away the compulsion of force how many would actually pay for it? Would it still rake in £3.6 billion a year?

    Because I’m guessing not and I suspect the BBC thinks the same…

  20. Andrew says:

    “The smoking ban, first introduced in Scotland, is the best thing that Henry McLeish ever did.”

    If you don’t believe in private property – you’re not a libertarian.

  21. John Galt says:

    If you don’t believe in private property – you’re not a libertarian.

    Bit of a stretch to say that supporting the smoking ban means you don’t believe in private property isn’t it?

    I don’t like carrots, but that doesn’t make me a cannibal…

  22. RAB says:

    John, I think you find that Andrew meant the complete opposite of what you thought he meant.

  23. Sam Duncan says:

    Tom, what John and Andrew said. These are not “obsessions”; they’re simply manifestations of the desire for liberty and oppostion to the initiation of force.

    If the BBC is worth £150 p.a., then why do people have to be forced to pay? Personally, for all that I dislike the political bias, I probably would cough up voluntarily, although at times like this, I wonder. What I dislike is not being given the option. Ditto the smoking ban. I don’t smoke, and have no intention of starting. Neither am I a great frequenter of pubs. But when I do visit one, I resent being told that I can’t, whether the proprietor agrees or not.

    “The alternative”, incidentally, was to stay away from pubs that permitted smoking, not to hold a gun (which is only partially metaphorical) to the heads of all the publicans who did.

  24. Andrew says:

    “Bit of a stretch to say that supporting the smoking ban means you don’t believe in private property isn’t it?”


    If you support telling people what to do with their property, you don’t support private property.

    “I don’t like carrots, but that doesn’t make me a cannibal…”

    *Shrug* if you’re not forcing your preferences on others it doesn’t matter what you like.

  25. NickM says:

    “The only problem is, if you take away the compulsion of force how many would actually pay for it? Would it still rake in £3.6 billion a year?

    Because I’m guessing not and I suspect the BBC thinks the same…”

    Or they can stop making utterly inane crap like “Hole in the wall” and they could have Wossy publically executed by rectal pear on pay per view. All I care about is watching ancient sitcoms on Dave and Dr Who and frankly I doubt the latest companion. She’s no Rose, Donna or Pond.

    For 145 quid I don’t want Nigella to ponce about showing what a lovely kitchen she has (due to the unique way it’s funded). I want a fucking blow-job from her for that moolah! And I want that Midlander on the appalling “One Show” dragged through the streets of Kirkkaldy on a hurdle and pelted with the entrails of swine. And Gary Lineker burnt in a wicked (no sp) man. That would be whatever Mitchell still mooches around Albert Square. I want to see the final episode of ‘stenders. The one where the USAF hits it with a wing-strong napalm strike. And don’t get me started on the “Khans” or “My Family”. Whoever is responsible for those cunterations deserves the Pear of Anguish. – slowly.

    Yeah, I’d cough up if they made you know shows worth watching.

  26. Paul Marks says:

    Get rid of all evidence that you have a television (things like an ariel and so on) and never let anyone into your home. Then watch what you want – via computer.

    They will say they have a right to enter (tell all sorts of lies) – but they did not.

    Get rid of all evidence you have ever had a television.

    And if someone asks you (throught the letterbox do NOT let them in) “are you watching television via computer” refuse to discuss it.

  27. KevinM says:

    I’ve been licence-free for a few years now; used to have a full Virgin Media cable TV package, but reduced that to broadband-only, put the set-top box in the loft, fitted a blanking plate over the co-ax socket, the receipt for which is kept along with my large collection of monthly letters from TV Licensing that are now in a fetching shade of red and with a stridency that has all the effect of a child’s feet stamping.

    As to the technical side, I originally watched Lovefilm and the limited catch-up available on a PS3 – it goes via PlayStation Network – but the PS3′s now died, so have my digital TV connected to my 5-year-old Dell Inspiron laptop via VGA and audio cables. This gives me greater programme choice than the PS3 and dual-screen computing.

    Potential downside is that Lovefilm uses Microsoft Silverlight for PC streaming, so isn’t available to all operating systems; it can also cause a very annoying ‘stutter’ that I’ve yet to see fully explained. That said, I cleared all my temporary internet files before the last film I watched and the problem didn’t re-occur. Hope that helps.

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