Saturday, 20 August 2011

Day 50: The Television Licence

Today's saving: £145.50!  Frugal Win!!

Well sort of.  From one point of view anyway.

Yes - today has seen the long-awaited conversation with the television licence people re. the complicated situation of having a television, but not watching it. I expected a sucking-in of breath and a sharp lecture along the lines of, If you have a television, then you must ...  But manners at the licencing authority seem to have improved since the olden days.  The lady at the other end of the conversation (which was 'being recorded for training purposes' - yeah, right!) even apologised for sounding suspicious when she read me my righ ... ahem, explained the law to me.   Quite a contrast to the bombardment of letters I got in my early working days, with threats of fines, court, and home raids: letters which did not even list as an option the possibility that one could conceivably live without the darned thing.

Friend Nik, who is in the same situation, recounts a conversation she had with a nice boy at the other end of the line.  She explained the non-existence of the television, which he accepted without demure.  But then curiosity got the better of him.  "I understand that you don't have a television, he said.  "But can I just ask ...
   what do your chairs face?"      

Instead of television, and especially before the days of the internet, I made do with books.  I kept a record of all I read in my first year of working life, when I lived all alone in a strange city.  My first degree was in English Literature, but it had assumed that modern literature ended in 1945.  So I deliberately set out this year to catch up on the modern literary novel.  I read over 80.  I have never quite equalled that total since, mainly because I did actually develop a social life.  But still, it stands as an ideal.

So come, Mr Television Licence Man, and inspect my flat. I don't have to let you in, but if I don't, the letters start again.  Come, and see that the television receives no signal, that it is not connected to any satelite or cable, that it is not tuned in to any television stations at all.  Come, and see that the flat is full of books.

The weird thing is, although the television is almost permanently blank, my chairs still face it.  :-)

Today's Expenditure = £6.50  (I was disorganised, headed out early, and did not make a packed lunch.  This was breakfast and lunch.  What a waste.)


Mrs Gerbil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
spotthegerbil said...

(begin rant!)

I'm in the same position. I just ignore the letters, and after 8 years, they are still coming. The letters state that they are authorised to visit your premises. Well that's fine (but so is the postman), but they have no legal right to enter it without your consent.

Please note that a visit will not permanently stop the letters. After a year or so, they will resume, demanding a visit just so they can see if your circumstances have changed.

TV Licensing is operated on behalf of the BBC by Capita, and I'm not having their staff trampling round my house. Their basic assumption is that anyone who claims not to watch tv is lying, and their letters are accusatory in tone. So if they are going to treat me with such comtempt then they can crawl back under the rock from which they came.

TV is just another form of entertainment. Its been a while since I was at the theatre, but Lord Webber has never tried to extort money ouf of me by suggesting that I may once have seen a bit of Phantom. And there was a time when I didn't own a car, but the DVLA didn't feel the need to poke around in my garden for an unregistered, untaxed car.

(Rant over!)

Jan said...

There used to be both TV and radio licences down here in New South Wales but they were dropped decades ago. I think they were probably too much trouble and expense to maintain.

Nik said...

For the record: my chairs face each other around the fireplace - and enable jolly cosy blethers to be had :)

I've not had follow up letters/ knocks on the door/ etc. since I said by phone call 'I'm utterly happy to pay the fine if you find a tv here - I feel I would justly be punished not for breaking the law, but for being so obviously stupid not to have noticed I had one in such a small space.' Got an appropriate giggle from person on phone and it was all very happily pleasant. I get an annual phone call just to check if circ's have changed, but otherwise am left alone to enjoy my license-free existence! :)