TV licensing

(What the Fork Dude?) #1

Since we moved to our new house we get all the usual TV licensing rubbish. I’ve never had a TV licence because we don’t watch television “as it’s broadcast” and we don’t use the iPlayer. I literally don’t have a TV aerial.

Normally I ignore all the letters from them because in the past I’ve lived in a flat down a scary looking alley (where most of the time even the pizza guy wouldn’t deliver) so never worried about some contracted out faux civil servant.

I noticed a change in the most recent letter though because it says they will attend to see if we are watching TV or downloading TV illegally. How on earth could they prove if I was downloading TV illegally?

My understanding is very simple that to get a warrant you need cause and without access to my house you don’t have cause.

Does anyone here have any knowledge on the actual rights you have IF an “officer” shows up?


Of course they have no rights of access, but they can ring your doorbell. Just be polite and say no thanks. Or write to them advising you are withdrawing permission for them to bother you.

(What the Fork Dude?) #3

So this is the other thing I’ve been reading about… People withdrawing the implied right of access. I’m still trying to figure out if I need to write to them or if I can simply put a sign in my garden defining who has right of access and who doesn’t


Basically, and without being an armchair lawyer, all the information about TV licensing Enquiry Officers is contained in the following link:


Bear in mind if you withdraw implied right of access, they can and have in the past been awarded search warrants.

Best place for advice is TV Licensing itself.

What law authorises enquiry officers to request access to my home? Can I refuse to let them in?

The Communications Act 2003 (opens in a new window) imposes an obligation on the BBC to issue TV Licences and collect the licence fee. The BBC must ensure that it fulfils its responsibility to the vast majority of households who pay their licence fee, by enforcing the law in respect of those who intentionally evade paying it. TV Licensing uses a range of activities to raise awareness about the requirement for a TV Licence, remind people to pay, inform them of ways to pay, and to deter people from evading the licence fee.

Enquiry officers do not have any legal powers to enter your home without a search warrant granted by a magistrate (or sheriff in Scotland). They (like other members of the public) rely on an implied right in common law to call at a property as far as the door, while going about their lawful business and making their presence known. Enquiry officers must explain to the occupier of the premises why they are visiting, be polite, courteous and fair, and abide by rules of conduct.

You have no obligation to grant entry to an enquiry officer if you don’t wish to do so. If refused entry by the occupier, the enquiry officer will leave the property. If enquiry officers are refused access, then TV Licensing reserve the right to use other methods of detection.

Enquiry officers may apply for authorisation to use detection equipment if they are refused entry on to premises. TV Licensing may also apply to a magistrate (or sheriff in Scotland) for a search warrant. However, this is only done as a last resort and when a senior manager and a legal adviser considers that there is good reason to believe that an offence has been committed.

(Liam) #6

I have a TV licence these days, but didn’t for years.

I seem to remember that they have five letters that they send in sequence. Each slightly more threatening than the last. Then they stop for a while, and then the cycle starts again.

Of course there is no such thing as an organisation called ‘TV Licencing’. It’s the BBC’s revenue collection unit who, in turn, contract out collection to Capita.

The BBC like to stay at arms length from the business end of collecting money - because they think it tarnishes their cuddly brand.

I think the general advice is not to engage with the people from Capita. They have no status, you are not obliged to talk to them. Just say no thank you and close the door.

Certainly don’t let them in (without a warrant, in which case they’ll turn up with the police)

They need a warrant to come in and they need to satisfy a judge that there is probable cause in order to do that.

If you’re not watching TV illegally, then a) they’re unlikely to meet the required standard and b) if they do there only wasting their own time.

(Liam) #7

That’s not advisable. Non contact is considered to be the best option.

As I understand it, WOIRA is considered a challenge by Capita, ‘proof’ that you have something to hide!

(What the Fork Dude?) #8

Which to be fair would also cause me to look more closely.

I’ll just ignore them for now. Realistically even they get a warrant the are not going to find anything


The getting a warrant is just a threat, I’m not aware of cases where they have been awarded one just on a whim, after all there have to prove to a judge you are most likely to be breaking the law.

That is why withdrawing implied consent shows a judge you are stopping Capita from checking if you are breaking the law.

They are probably the most well known anti TV licence group, been around for years. I’ve never seen any cases of warrants just been given out, and they keep track of things like that.

(Liam) #10

I’ve read through that site before.
They’re a tad obsessive, but it’s a good resource.


haha yep they sure are. But its a good resource site.

(What the Fork Dude?) #12

the first post is “why we don’t recommend WOIRA”

I can see what I’ll be doing this evening.


I have never had a TV licence. Whenever I moved I would get a letter shortly after telling me to get a licence, or tell them I don’t need one. I have always told them I don’t need one (which you can do online). They have never bothered me further than that (other than writing me about once a year or every two years asking to confirm that I still don’t need need one, which I happily confirm).

Served me well, and certainly never got any threatening letter let alone people knocking at the door…

(What the Fork Dude?) #14

I torn between confirming I don’t need one and being like the guy on twitter that said "I don’t tell the fire brigade that my house isn’t on fire, why should I tell TVL I don’t watch TV :slight_smile:

(Liam) #15

Just remembered one of the my favourite ploys of Capita…

I used to get occasional leaflets through the door from ‘TV Licencing’ with the vaguely threatening headline on the lines of ‘we said we’d call… and we did’.

Turns out these were not posted by Capita.

They’d subcontracted to MeterPlus to just stick intimidating communications through peoples doors.


When I didn’t tell them anything, I used to get visits, when I told them online, I didn’t get any visits.

(Liam) #17

Exactly that.

I’ve never called the police to tell them that I don’t need a firearms licence.
I’ve never called the council to tell them I don’t need a taxi licence.
I’ve never called the Health and Care Professions Council to tell them I don’t need a licence to practice as an ‘art therapist’.

I did once get in touch with the BBC though… to tell them I needed to buy a TV licence!


Absolutely true, and a legitimate point of view.

But I could either voluntarily confirm that I don’t need a licence and be done with the whole story in 5 min, or get letters every few weeks/months, and occasional visits that would eat up much more of my time and energy.

To me it seems the former is the less principled, but better solution out of pure self interest.

(What the Fork Dude?) #19

Which is normally my approach to things. I just don’t know why it irks me so much to respond to TVL


The funny thing is: my approach is usually the reverse :laughing: