With a growing list of reasons not to fund the BBC, whether it was the cover up of Jimmy Saville’s crimes, highly partisan Brexit coverage whilst claiming impartiality, more recent revelations about Martin Bashir’s conduct or simply insufferably ruination of once adored national broadcaster through relentless left-wing propaganda there has never been a better time to stop paying the telly tax. Here I present a concise guide to cancelling your TV Licence
So first thing to consider is how much BBC programming do you actually watch? Pick up the TV guide and make a list of your weekly viewing, are those BBC shows that you watch worth the cost of £157.50 a year for a colour TV licence?
Next consider whether live TV is a necessity. If you must have live sport then the question may already be answered but indulge me on this one – Most programmes are available on catch-up services soon after the live broadcast has finished, this means I can catch the highlights of Formula One races at my own convenience through Channel4.com after the live broadcast has finished. I can also skip past the pre-race ceremony where some of the drivers kneel for Black Lives Matter.
Programmes from any other channel can be watched without requiring a licence, so long as you follow certain rules: No viewing or recording live TV as it’s being broadcast and no BBC iPlayer as this service is directly funded by the license fee.
To clarify these rules here are a few examples: You would need a licence to watch Sky News if it is being broadcast live, even if this is hosted on another platform such as YouTube or the Sky owned Now TV. You do not need a licence to watch Coronation street on itv Hub once the episode has finished broadcasting on terrestrial TV. Finally it is a myth that you would need a licence simply for owning a television set.
Technology has made it easier than ever to catch up on programming. Modern TVs are usually of the smart variety which can directly connect to the internet, alternatively you can plug in a streaming device such as a Now TV box, Roku streaming stick. Some services can even be accessed directly through their websites or apps using a home PC, laptop or mobile phone. Streaming boxes are available for as little as £30.
There are multiple platforms competing for viewership with traditional TV services. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Now TV (Sky) and Disney + are some of the most notable new entrants to the market. ITV player, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play represent a significant amount of the terrestrial programming available in the UK.
Finally it is worth mentioning Britbox, which is a joint venture between the BBC & itv. Britbox is paid for directly, therefore no licence required and many modern and classic BBC shows can be accessed through this service for a fraction of the price of a TV licence.
Having considered the above points, you may have reached the conclusion that you no longer require a TV licence. It is possible to simply cancel your direct debit and ignore all correspondence from TV Licensing, however, it’s advisable to follow the proper process of notifying TVL that you wish to cancel.
To do this, declare that you do not watch or record live TV or watch BBC iPlayer either through the online form at https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/cs/no-licence-needed/about.app, call them on 0300 555 0286 or write to them: TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL
Once TVL has received instruction to cancel your licence they should cancel your direct debit and refund any over payments. It is advisable to cancel the direct debit from your bank account anyway so that no more payments are made.
At this point it would be useful to examine a couple of the dubious tactics used to keep the great British public paying the telly tax. First: TV Licensing is nothing more than a trading name and subsidiary department of the BBC. This gives the impression of a separate regulatory body overseeing collection and enforcement, like their news coverage, there is nothing impartial about TVL.
Second: The TV detector van myth – The vans exist, but there is no specialist technology that will allow them to detect whether you are watching live TV, their detection equipment is an inspectors eyes, following a knock on your door or potentially snooping through the front window. This should act as an example of how they are trying to psychologically pressure you into a panic.
TVL are evasive when questioned on how the detection equipment works, they say this will give them the best chance of catching license evaders. However, they are unwilling to present this evidence in a court of law where it must be available to both the prosecution and defence, courts are unable to convict without evidence. This threat of mystical detection equipment is simply not credible if we cannot ascertain it to be accurate and reliable.
Third: Presumed consent – By sending inspectors round with an air of pseudo-authority and an official ID badge, they might just panic you into letting them in. TVL have no ability to prosecute without seeing you watching live TV or have you implicate yourself during questioning. At this point I would advocate for a minimal contact approach as follows:
If you receive a visit from TVL inspectors you should politely ask them to leave your premesis, they are required to do so on this request as otherwise they are trespassing. A resident’s right to permit or prevent access is absolute, TVL inspectors have no more right to enter a private residence than Jehovah’s witnesses, double glazing salesman or any other member of the public.
Other than politely confirming that your household does not require a TV licence on the basis that you do not watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer, there is no reason to speak to the inspectors, to continue a conversation would just put yourself, dear reader, at liability. End of conversation, close the front door on them.
Finally, be prepared to ignore the generic letters from TVL letters, they are computer generated and sent out to the thousands of homes listed in a database. Well over a year after cancelling my TV Licence I’m still receiving them and the BBC is still wasting money on the postage.