TV licence fee excuses revealed

The Queen with James Bond and corgis in a sketch for the Olympics opening ceremony The Queen appeared with corgis in a sketch for the Olympics opening ceremony

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A homeowner said they did not think they had to pay their TV licence fee because they claimed their pet was related to one of the Queen's dogs.

Other excuses given to officials by evaders last year included watching a stolen TV set, TV Licensing said.

More than 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence in 2012.

UK residents are legally required to have a licence if they watch or record TV at the same time as it is broadcast or could face a fine of up to £1,000.

A colour TV licence costs £145.50 while a black-and-white licence costs £49.

In January, TV Licensing revealed that more than 13,000 households across the UK were still using black-and-white television sets.

Criminal offence

Excuses for non-payment given last year included:

  • "Apparently my dog, which is a corgi, was related to the Queen's dog so I didn't think I needed a TV licence"
  • "Why would I need a TV licence for a TV I stole? Nobody knows I've got it"
  • "Only my three-year-old son watches the TV. Can you take it out of the family allowance I receive for him? He watches it so he should pay"
  • "I had not paid as I received a lethal injection"
  • "I don't want to pay for a licence for a full year. Knowing my luck I'll be dead in six months and won't get value for money"
  • "I have lost weight recently and had to buy new clothes. That's why I could not afford to buy a TV licence"

TV Licensing spokesman Stephen Farmer said: "Some of the excuses are simply hilarious whilst others show a great deal of imagination and creativity but being caught without a valid TV licence is a criminal offence and no laughing matter.

"Joking and wacky excuses apart, it's breaking the law to watch live television without a licence so anybody doing this risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    Oh look, another TVL press release that the BBC is trying to pass off as legitimate news.

    > More than 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence in 2012.


    As much as I love the BBC's programming, they certainly have terrible licencing enforcement practices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    I am a magistrate and am not surprised at the figures given for no TV licence. I have sat in court sessions (lasting half a day) where we have dealt with between 50 and 100 cases, in some cases it is a second or third offence.
    Simple answer, to not get a criminal conviction, pay your TV licence or get rid of the TV. If you really need your TV you can pay monthly and spread the cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    Recently a man (Tony Rooke) got taken to court for not paying his TV license.

    His argument was that the BBC disseminated biased information about terror attacks, including reporting WTC Tower 7's collapse on 9/11, 20 minutes before it did so, and so under UK terror laws it is actually illegal to pay the BBC.

    Many newspapers and websites reported on the case. The BBC didn't!

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    Do the beeb get a fee for the licences they give to other companies to administer the licence?

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.



    It says watching or recording when broadcast requires a licence. Your PVR records when broadcast and +1 channels are still broadcasting so if you watch them, you pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    The BBC has the option of subscription based services. Just scramble all the TV and radio channels on Digital TV. It's nothing new. Then, if people want to watch the BBC tv service or listen to BBC radio they have the choice to subscribe to it for a fee and get a viewing card. Then the other people who can't afford it or who don't watch tv can finally get some peace. Sounds fair to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    After not actually watching TV for a year, due to the rubbish output, I wondered why I was paying £145 a year for a box to gather dust in the corner. So I gave it away, and never looked back. That was 5 years ago. Have I missed anything? Nope!

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    Lots of people seem to be suggesting that the TV license pays for this website. While that is probably in part true due to intermixed funds, the purpose of a TV license is to fund TV channels, not to fund a website. By your logic those of us who do not own a TV should be paying anyway purely to use the internet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    In France, where we live part of the the time, the TV licence is collected through the equivalent of the council tax. Much more efficient AND you have to make a statement that you do not have a TV to get a reduction, so it's up to you, lie and the force of the law will come down on you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Just to hammer home my last point, here in Vienna I've had to pay €276 for my TV license, and a further €80 just to listen to the radio. This money goes directly to the national broadcaster, who mostly show badly dubbed American shows and make further money from commercial ad breaks. Lord knows where the money actually goes. The BBC website alone is worth the British license fee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    I gladly pay the license fee. Question time, Newsnight, BBC news, HIGNFY, Review show, Film 20?? and 6 Music. The list of quality programming is endless. My 7yo daughter has access to hundreds of channels, what does she exclusively watch? Thats right CBBC. Compare this payment with say the Times paywall (£2 a week) or a subscription to Sky\Virgin Media. £145? you will miss it when it's gone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    Nice to see the bbc voting down all the negative comments. Some have said the bbc site is the most visited in the UK, thats wrong, it's actually Google. As far as none payers are freeloading, we pay taxes which pay the pensioners licences. The bbc still gets the "free" licence money, it's paid by us tax payers. Not a handout from the government or the bbc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    3 Hours ago

    We have no choice but to have a SKY dish here as we are in the middle of nowhere

    Sarah - have a look at freesat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    @643 Leon
    'If BBC content depended on adverts we'd have less of the diverse programming we have now and more mainstream cash cows such as X-Factor and BGT.'
    You mean like the voice and strictly come dancing?

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    I would like to pay to have ALL the adverts removed from my TV. Can I get a TV Licence which allows me to watch live TV on ANY channel without adverts? Please?

    Oh, okay - I will carry on using my PVR and FF the adverts. Same difference.

    Viva La BBC!

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    @65 Sarah

    "We have no choice but to have a SKY dish here as we are in the middle of nowhere, and I object strongly at having to pay THEM for all the utter rubbish they provide. I only watch the BBC...."

    Sarah - you don't need to pay SKY to receive the BBC from a dish, see which is jointly owned by BBC and ITV.

    You're welcome ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    On reading the article it states watching tv when broadcast requires a licence,so if i watch catch up tv or plus one is it breaking the law not to have a licence

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    Watching advert-free BBC channels such a relief from the incessant adverts on the commercial channels. The licence fee is worth it on that basis alone!

    But when I didn’t own a TV I was frequently harassed by the TV licencing agency. They evidently can’t conceive that anyone can exist without a TV. As a student I did without TV for several years and could do so again – perfectly easily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    The only real objection I have to paying the licence fee is that a fraction of it contributes to Nick Grimshaw.

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    Forced to pay £150 for Snog Marry Avoid, Eastenders and other trashy tv that could easily be produced on ITV, and for anti-Scottish independence propaganda that could easily be paid for directly by Better Together rather than indirectly through me. We have 100s of channels of free trash these days, and of course plenty other mouthpieces of the British establishment. Enough with the tv tax.


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