Got out of bed on the 'wrong side' today so I thought it was high time for a rant. In fact this is a little 'off topic' rant but one that really gets me setting out my soap box and 'sounding off'.
Yesterday, I received yet another 'red' letter from Mr Ross McTaggart of the TV Licensing Authority. Like all the others Mr McTaggart has sent, this one was not addressed to me personally but to the owner/occupier. Proof, if any were needed, that Mr McTaggart has no idea who I am or any knowledge of who lives at my address. Not withstanding this, he continues to threaten (the owner/occupier) with all manner of prosecutions, fines and/or imprisonment. My crime? Well, it's because Mr McTaggart can't find a record of a television licence registered at my address in his 'database'. There's quite a good reason for this. I'm one of the small, but growing, minority of home owners who do NOT own a television. Don't have one, don't want one. Sadly this doesn't seem good enough for Mr McTaggart. He, and his colleagues at the TVLA seem to divide the population into two distinct groups; those who have a licence and those who are deliberately watching TV illegally. A third group of 'don't own a TV' does not exist in their black and white world.
The legal requirement to possess a licence occurs:
If you use a TV or any other device to receive or record TV programmes (for example, a VCR, set-top box, DVD recorder or PC with a broadcast card) you need a TV Licence. You are required by law to have one.(TVLA web site)
I own none of these. In the absence of possession there is no legal requirement on me to notify Mr McTaggart that I don't have a TV. Just as there is no legal requirement on me to notify the DVLA that I don't own a car, or the Passport Office that I don't have or want a passport, or, indeed, the Church of England that I'm a practicing Buddhist.
Once again, the letter advises me that I can expect a visit from one of Mr McTaggart's enforcement colleagues because they'll be in my area. Well, according to all the other letters I've received they're always in my area. Now I live in a relatively small town and one can only assume that either most of the town are licence evaders and Mr McTaggart's colleagues are grossly overworked or else there are only a few 'dodgers' (me included apparently) and therefore the TV police must be extremely inefficient. Of course the truth is more likely that the 'knock on the door' will only occur if the detector van can actually 'prove' that I'm using a TV illegally and this they can't do 'coz I ain't got one.
Perhaps I might feel more kindly towards the TVLA and Mr McTaggart if he actually thought to included a 'tear-off' section in his letter where I can declare that I live in a 'TV-Free' house and return it to him by 'free post'. Or indeed a freephone number that I could call. That way, he might be able to sleep soundly at night, safe in the knowledge that his 'database' is up to date. Don't see why I have to spend money and make an effort just to satisfy Mr McTaggart.
Of course, I'm not alone in being hounded by Mr McTaggart and his secret police colleagues. Boris Johnson MP has been a high profile voice in the fight to get the TVLA to leave him alone. He wrote a highly charged open letter in the Telegraph to this effect. Other people are also subject to monthly missives from the TVLA, there's a blog here another here and a web page here. If their stories are accurate then I'll probably be waiting months, if not years before someone calls. No doubt I'll have moved by then.