Tips for Avoiding TVL/BBC harassment
There are two schools of thought.
1) No contact
Simply ignore TVL/BBC. Their letters are computer-generated and
sent out by the hundred-thousand. The purpose of these "official warnings" and
threats of "imminent legal action" is psychologial rather than actual. Once
this is realised, the letters cease to have any effect or credibility.
The same applies to street visits. If someone called at your door
and asked to see whether you had a washing-machine or a food-mixer, would you
let them in? Of course not, so why permit TVL/BBC to look for a TV, video or
DVD player? People who work for TVL/BBC have no more right to enter private
residences than people selling dusters.
Without entry, TVL/BBC have no sure means
of knowing whether a house has equipment set up to receive broadcasts. That is
why they rely on mass mailshots, declaring messages such as, "This is your
final warning". They rely on householders' own reaction to these letters, and
on self-incrimination during street visits. Without YOUR co-operation, TVL/BBC
What about search warrants? Before a
search warrant can be issued, TVL/BBC must satisfy the court that they have
"reasonable grounds" for believing that broadcasts are being received at the
unlicenced address. The simple absence of a licence does not constitute this,
nor does the householder's refusal to communicate with TVL/BBC. To obtain a
search warrant, TVL/BBC must offer the court positive evidence, such as seeing
or hearing a television, or the householder's own admission. Without such
evidence, TVL/BBC cannot apply for a search warrant, and without a search
warrant, they cannot enter. So, they are back to square
The "no contact" method is therefore to
ignore the letters and to keep the door shut to TVL/BBC visitors. A drawback of
this approach is that TVL/BBC will keep coming, but the benefit is that it
wastes their time and money: every £100 spent chasing "no contact"
households is £100 less spent on the BBC itself. And that can only be a
2) Implied right of access
There is a way to stop TVL/BBC approaches. Although houses and
flats are private property, there exists an "implied right of access" to enable
postal deliveries, newspaper rounds, and other people who wish to visit. This
means that the pathway, doorbell and letter box may be used by visitors without
the express permission of the owner. Invitiation to use them is implied.
As a result of this, TVL/BBC can come up your path and ring your door bell.
To prevent TVL/BBC approaching your property, write to them,
stating that you have withdrawn their implied right of access. There is no need
to indicate whether you have a television,
and you do not need to give your name. You can
withdraw access in the name of "legal occupier".
That will (should) keep their employees away, but it will not stop
the delivery of TVL/BBC letters, since it is the postman who uses your letter
box. So, inform TVL/BBC that you consider their written contact as harassment.
This combined approach - withdrawing the right of implied access and informing
them that their contact is harassment - should prevent further contact. At
least for a while.
|Remember, whether you choose the No Contact route, or withdraw the
implied right of access, always remember the following if a TVL/BBC employee
calls: If you know it is them, do not answer the door. If you do answer the
door, and then find out who they are, close the door (do not engage in
conversation). If they have already been let in, instruct them to leave; they
are obliged to do so, as indicated in TVL/BBC's booklet "About TV Licensing":
|"If one of our Visiting Officers calls at your home they will
... stop the enquiry if asked to leave ... [they will] only enter a property
when given permission" (page 4, About TV Licensing, December
Finally, under no circumstances, do you admit or
sign anything. TVL/BBC employees are not the police; they are a private
company, and have no special legal powers. They rely on you providing
information, which they will seek to use against you.
Update 30 December 2006: some
important further information
The less TVL/BBC know about you the better, so here are some more
ideas to keep them off your back:
i) Be mindful of what information you give retailers. Retailers
are required to pass names and addresses to TVL/BBC of all customers who buy a
television, DVD or video player. TVL/BBC then use this information to update
their mailing database.
If you move house, do not inform TVL/BBC. There is no legal obligation to do
so.iii) Important: make sure your TV is not
visible through the window, or audible from the letterbox. While there is
nothing unlawful about having a television without a licence, TVL/BBC will
automatically assume that it is receiving broadcasts.
TVL/BBC sometimes send letters by recorded delivery, requiring your signature.
This enables them to confirm your identity and update their database. They also
hope that signing for an "official warning" will give you a fright. So, ask to
see where a recorded delivery has come from before signing. If it is from
Bristol BS98 1TL, refuse it (keep a note of TVL's postcode by your front door
v) TVL/BBC sometimes phone people up. If a
caller asks for you by name, ask who is phoning before confirming your
identity. If the reply is "TV Licensing" or similar, replace the handset. Do
not engage in conversation. If you give your identity, it enables TVL/BBC to
update their database.
vi) Beware dirty tricks. For instance, a caller
pretending to do a survey; "Have you got a music centre?", followed by, "Have
you got a TV?", or "What's your favourite TV programme?" Always confirm the
identity of the caller.
The following are good
practice, regardless of your TV licensing
vii) Have your details removed from the publicly available version
of the electoral roll. You can do this by ticking the relevant box on your
voter registration form. See further details from the
viii) Have your telephone number removed from the phone directory;
details to be found in the phone book.
Preference Service, the Telephone
Preference Service and the
x) Do not give your name on your answer
machine's recorded message.
xi) Do not give consent for your details
to be given to third parties; for instance, when completing coupons for special
offers, magazine tear-off slips and promotional questionnaires and flyers.
Always tick the non-disclosure box.Complaints
against TVL/BBC, and how to make them
This website advocates minimal or zero contact with TVL/BBC.
However, if you wish to contact them for purposes of a complaint, below is
where to write. This is a three-stage process; start with the first address,
and move to the second and third if the responses are not satisfactory.
According to its 2005 annual report, TVL/BBC received 18,000 written
complaints, and 5,000 by telephone, so you will be in good company.
||1) Head of Customer Relations
||Customer Relations Department
||Bristol BS98 1TL
||2) Customer Services Director
||Bristol BS98 1TL
||3) Customer Relations
||BBC TV Licensing Management
||PO Box 48309
||London W12 6YA