He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.


Nearly five years ago, I got rid of my television - a lifestyle choice that I don’t remotely regret. Whilst the item largely sat in the corner of my front-room collecting dust, that was only a minor point - I objected to paying a yearly tax for something that didn’t justify its expenditure. There seemed little point in paying over £100/yr just for a screen to play DVDs and a games console on.

That’s not to say that a certain agency won’t nag you, though.

Over the course of that five years, I’ve had about ten letters from TV Licensing, threatening me with a £1,000 fine if their mind-probe devices ever found TV reception equipment in my house. They’ve threatened me with fines, house-searches and body-cavity searches* if they found any hint of me watching Eastenders at the time that it was actually broadcast, God forbid.

But every so often when the threatening letters turned up, I continued to put a deft finger in their direction and ignore them.

Until my last letter turned up - and that just got me angry.

To quote the offending paragraphs:

Our standard practice is to now visit your address to confirm that no type of television receiver is being used there to watch or record TV programmes as they’re being shown on TV. This includes the use of a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, computer or mobile phone. Our visit should take no longer than a few minutes.

If you are still not using TV receiving equipment at this address, you needn’t take any action. Just expect a visit from us soon.

Does anyone think these guys are pushing their luck here? Not content with trying to tax TV users, anything with a screen would now appear to be suitable prey - and how long before you need a licence just to get internet access? Does that mean we’ll soon need a TV licence to access the likes of iPlayer? (You don’t at the moment). If so, this change is just the tip of the iceberg.

As for me, well I’m going to continue ignoring TV Licensing’s bully-tactics - no matter whether I’m on their database or not. I don’t have a TV, or a device that looks like one - it’s as simple as that. In the meantime, I just hope that the recently instigated review of the licensing authority actually comes to something meaningful, before loads of OAPs have the shit scared out of them...

...but of course, this is nothing new. Just don’t expect to get in my house unless you’ve got a warrant.

On a final note, I recently got a DVD of old public-service broadcasts (remember Charlie and Splink, anyone?) - and I saw this. The criminal bit isn’t the owning of the telly, it’s the watching of Columbo...

* maybe not the body-cavity search, but they’d give it a go if they could.