It is one year since I became
unlicensed. TVL/BBC has reverted to window messages.
The letter commences with "TV Licensing Officers will
soon be visiting..." - at which point my street is inserted. The letter has red
stripes down the sides, presumably to convince me that they really mean it this
A few surprises this month. First of all, my name has
reappeared alongside the "Present Occupier". Second, the letter is sent
The advice given on this website is
never to sign for TVL/BBC letters. However, on this occasion, I sign using a
suitably ambiguous squiggle. I must know what is inside the
In view of the
fact that I have not contacted TVL/BBC in over a year, I wonder whether their
retaining of my name is a breach of the Data Protection Act.
the letter suggests that I am on a new cycle. Note that the previous letter
(January 2007) says, "TV Licensing Officers will soon be visiting..." This new
letter omits the word 'soon' and says "TV Licensing Officers are
visiting..." So, a visit is imminent; the third line reinforces this by saying
that officers are "about to call".
contains a further surprise: a postal application form and a pre-paid return
envelope. The application form is a little odd; it says, "To be completed by
everyone", yet only includes enough space for
On the right hand side, the form asks
for a mobile phone number; is this simply so they can contact people when they
are out, or is it because there is some way of linking phone numbers to mobiles
that can receive TV pictures?
For the sake
of completeness, here is the pre-paid
|So, things are
hotting up again; a letter sent by recorded delivery, a looming visit by
enforcement officers, and a last chance in the form of a pre-paid envelope. Can
I hold out another month, or will I crack under the
This month's envelope is shaped
longways. My name has dropped off and I am "the occupier". The below scans are
near to actual size:
Inside is a leaflet; here is the front and back,
My first assumption is that this
leaflet ends the cycle of the previous two letters. However, on closer
examination, the leaflet appears to be a subdued continuation; it says "...this
address was passed on to our Enforcement Division for investigation".
Below is the inside of the leaflet.
bullet point describes the length of time I have been unlicensed as
"protracted". This means longer than ought to be. Since there is no legal
obligation to have a TV licence, let alone watch the BBC, what right does the
BBC have to use this word? It infers that I am doing something wrong by not
having a TV licence, and that the longer I do not have it, the more guilty I
There is no indication on the front of the envelope
that it is from TVL/BBC, so I am very likely at the beginning of a new cycle.
For some reason, the top left-hand corner of the envelope is printed
I've noticed that TVL/BBC sends out
letters at exactly the same point each month, with the result that I was able
to predict the date of this delivery.
In the top
left of this letter, TVL/BBC makes a point of telling me that I have been
allocated an "Unlicensed Property Number", as though that should interest me.
I see that the
licence fee has increased to £135.50, which means I am saving even more
While using my Hotmail, the TVL/BBC logo appeared in
the corner of the screen. After a couple of moments, it changed to "Buy your
licence here", and then, "Our database has every UK address too". It then went
back to the TVL/BBC logo and started the sequence again. Here are screen shots:
Only the first two flashes are necessary for the
purposes of enabling people to renew their licences; the third is included to
harrass. The message it seeks to convey is, "We are spying on you" but, like
all of TVL/BBC's assertions, it is an empty threat.
The envelope displays a warning: "Notification of
impending action". It does not display the TVL logo.
action referred to on the envelope is a "full investigation". I am not sure as
to the difference between an investigation and a "full investigation".
Similarly, I am not sure as to the distinction between a warning and an
"official warning", or an occupier and a "legal occupier". Enclosed with the
letter is the following leaflet:
The second and third bullet points contradict each
another; if a prosecution statement need be taken for legal action, as
indicated in the second point, then it is necessary only to refuse such a
statement to prevent legal action, thereby contradicting the third
The envelope is the same type as last month, but with
a different message: "Important information enclosed".
appears to be a final reminder: "Payment due immediately". But check the small
print: "Applies to unlicensed households watching a colour TV". Even this is
inaccurate; it should say, "Applies to unlicensed households watching
broadcasts on a colour
The same style envelope as I received in April, with
the curious black triangle in the top left corner.
The letter is
addressed to me by name, but the last sentence starts, "If you are not the
individual named above..." This means they do not know who lives at my address.
This letter is
virtually the same as that of October 2006; is TVL/BBC running out of
Regarding the mysterious black triangle in the top
left corner of the envelope, a visitor to this site suggests that its purpose
is to enable the envelopes to be checked to ensure that they are all the same
way up. This enables automatic processing of the postage paid on each envelope.
This letter is the same as that received in November
2006, so I appear to have looped back onto an earlier cycle. Does this mean
that the next letter will be that of December 2006, entitled "Urgent Message
from TV Licensing"?
This style of
envelope has been used three months in a row; is TVL/BBC making
This is not the letter that I had been
expecting; it is the version of five months ago (see April 2007), suggesting
that letter types do not always form the same repetitive sequence.
difference is that this month's letter does not include the April 2007 footnote
explaining the difference between English and Scottish law. Perhaps,
previously, TVL/BBC used the same mailing on both sides of the border, but now
send different letters, thereby removing the need to clarify the legal
Back to the
manilla envelopes, which have no black
This is the same letter as May 2007. I
am mildly disappointed that TVL/BBC is not trying new formats. Enclosed is the
same accompanying leaflet. This time, I show the reverse:
The familiar 9 by 4 white envelope.
This is almost the same letter as July
2007. The reference to Scottish law has been reintroduced, but is in the body
of the letter, rather than a
paragraph says that the enforcement division catches 61,930 every year; yet,
the August 2007 letter says the enforcement division catches 65,823 people
every year. How can two letters issued in the same year (and only four months
apart) give different
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