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TV licence dodgers could escape court action under new Government reforms

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 08, 2014

TV licence van

Comments (12)

Radical changes to the law will see those refusing to pay the £145.50 TV licence fee escape criminal action, under new reforms by MPs.

Those dodging payments under current laws could face a fine of up to £1,000, an appearance in court and criminal record.

That could now change with more than 100 cross-party backbench MPs backing steps to decriminalise non-payment.

It is hoped the move will relieve pressure on overstretched criminal courts. Licence fee evasion accounts for around one in nine cases at Magistrates Court, with 70 people jailed each year.

But any reforms are expected to be fiercely opposed by BBC chiefs, who say the law change would open the floodgates to more evasion cases and could reduce its operating budget by millions.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The Culture Secretary and I both agree that this is a really interesting idea - particularly given the pressure on our courts system. Our departments will be doing some serious work on the proposal.”

A BBC spokesman said: “Legislation is a matter for the Government, however changing the law could lead to higher evasion. Just a 1 per cent increase in evasion would lead to the loss of around £35 million, the equivalent of around 10 BBC Local Radio stations.”

The reform could become law within months as a growing number of backbench MPs support an amendment to the coalition’s Deregulation Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

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  • dibblebibble  |  March 10 2014, 3:48PM

    And if you genuinly do not ever watch watch or record TV as it's being broadcast, and Capita come knocking, NEVER EVER sign anything the Capita people ask you to. You'll be admitting guilt of an offence you've not committed..

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  • dibblebibble  |  March 10 2014, 3:45PM

    Truthseeker - go seek the truth. It's easy really as to wether you need a licence or not. Ask yourself one question, and one question only. This goes for the rest of you lot who do not know. 1. Do I watch or record TV as it's being broadcast? If the answer if "No" then you do NOT need a licence. If the answer if "Yes" then you DO need a licence. It really is as simple as that. Quote from TVL (I've *** the important bit). "You need to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you ***watch or record TV as it's being broadcast***. This includes the use of devices such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone or DVD/video recorder." You do NOT need a licence for just owning a TV. So, if no one in your house "watch or record TV as it's being broadcast", no need for you to be "bullied". Just ignore ALL letters, and politely say "No thank you." when they come to the door. Then close the door. They have NO powers of entry without a Court Warrant and the Police.

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  • TruthSeeker7  |  March 09 2014, 3:04PM

    Tv licensing/Capita are bully boys. In the past 13 mths I have been harassed and bullied being told that whether or not I need a licence, the only way to stop them coming to my home is to buy a licence. They claim they've had no correspondence with me - that's a lie. Why the heck would I want anything to do with a corporation so entrenched in paedophilia? the political propaganda? their biased reporting and failure to report the truth? I want nothing to do with them

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  • tishwash  |  March 09 2014, 11:33AM

    Why doesn't the BBC just start advertising to make money up ? they already have their "Payed Product Placement" stuff anyway ? Also why should people in the U.K. fork out so much yet you can get BBC world service and many of the BBC channels for free when you're abroad ? Why doesn't the BBC charge people like Virgin/sky etc for broadcasting their channels like many other providers do and then people who pay for those services no longer pay for a TV License on top?

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  • Wazzamatter  |  March 08 2014, 9:51PM

    @Mark_S, thanks for the link. I was going by what Cameron said last year when he was insisting the bedroom tax is not a bedroom tax because not everyone has to pay it. The journalist he was talking to mentioned the TV licence, pointing out that not everyone has to pay it, and Cameron said the licence fee isn't a tax. Looks like even our PM hasn't got a clue what he is talking about :-D

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  • Mark_S  |  March 08 2014, 8:04PM

    @Wazzamatter The license fee is a tax and is recognised as a tax by the government. That is why it is a criminal offence to not pay it. You can see the proof here: http://tinyurl.com/obfe5bc

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  • Wazzamatter  |  March 08 2014, 12:29PM

    I fail to see how it ever became a criminal offence. The licence fee is not a tax (according to the government) and not a fine, therefore how can not paying be a criminal offence? I think the various governments have been acting right on the edge of the law all these years, but then, that's nothing new, is it?

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  • Apothegm_  |  March 08 2014, 12:15PM

    @GlosANON - surely the people harassing you unmercifully are "TV Licensing", which is only very loosely related to the BBC. You may wish to look into the "Protection from Harassment Act 1997."

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  • raidermanuk  |  March 08 2014, 12:03PM

    Why stop there? Petty theft clogs up the courts. Why not decriminalise that? Tesco could hand out free bottles of plonk on demand. Suppose we could legalise some minor sexual offences too in order to give them an easy life in the courts.

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  • GlosANON  |  March 08 2014, 11:58AM

    I would have more sympathy for The BBC if they didn't use bully-boy intimidation tactics when chasing their license fees, I don't require a license due to not watching anything "as its broadcast" using only Netflix and the "on demand" apps. This doesn't stop The BBC from harassing me every month with early morning knocks at my door, red letters and phone calls. They even lie about me needing one just because I own a TV and Stereo (with no aerial in either)

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