Immigration and the TV Licence

From The Sun:

OVER the past four years, almost 3.5million British citizens have decided not to pay a penny more to the BBC – the world’s oldest broadcasting organisation.

Until not so long ago, the Beeb was unquestionably a national treasure. So why have they stopped paying for it?

There are several reasons I expect, but the article overlooks the most obvious one – immigration. It’s pretty much an open secret now that payment of the TV licence fee is unenforceable. Despite all the bullying from the TV licence people – a private company that pretends it has police powers – it is quite easy to just tell them to sod off when they show up on your doorstep. Detector vans, even taking the charitable assumption that there is such a thing and they work, number around a dozen at most. The TV licence authority has no powers of entry and the best they can do is trick you into inviting them in or confessing to watching a TV with no licence. This is why the vast majority of those actually prosecuted for non-payment are women, many of them poor, single mothers, i.e those who are easily bullied by a couple of men on the front doorstep. Oddly, you don’t hear feminists complaining about this deployment of Patriarchal muscle.

What the BBC have relied upon up to now is the average Brit being law-abiding, not wanting to be a freeloader, and feeling some sort of connection between their citizenship and national institutions. Most Brits like the BBC and many love it, believing it a national treasure offering superb value for money. Britain was, until recently, a high-trust society requiring little active policing because the population could, by and large, be relied upon to cooperate. So strong was the TV licence in the national psyche that I think even the professional welfare-bludgers used to buy one: it’s simply what everyone did, almost without thinking. I’ve rubbed shoulders with some dodgy bastards in my time, and of all the things they used to boast about when bucking the system – including driving without a licence – I never heard anyone say they’d ducked the TV licence. The TV licencing laws weren’t ever properly enforced simply because they didn’t need to be.

But times have changed. A greater percentage of the population now comes from low-trust societies where freeloading is a duty and nothing to be ashamed of (indeed, if you’re paying for something you don’t have to it marks you out as stupid). These people have no affection for British institutions and the BBC is just two or three TV channels out of thousands, and they don’t fear the law in the same way native Brits do. Hell, even Americans think our TV licencing laws are scandalous, and they’re more civilised than most who show up on our shores. Besides, are the TV licencing people really going to be banging on doors in terraces and tower blocks filled with immigrants demanding to know if there’s a TV in the place? I doubt it. Easier to go and intimidate the single mother or little old lady with bad eyesight who’s late husband used to take care of all that.

There is of course the other elephant in the room, which is the BBC’s completely outdated funding model which is no longer justifiable in the age of subscription TV and the internet. With there now being dozens of websites and forums discussing how to easily avoid paying for a TV licence, even otherwise law-abiding Brits are deciding they’re not going to do so on principle alone. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the immigrant issue never gets brought up in relation to people not paying the TV licence, though. After all, the BBC has been a staunch supporter of mass immigration and the New Labour government that opened the floodgates. How ironic, eh?

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15 thoughts on “Immigration and the TV Licence

  1. Haven’t paid it for ten years. I refuse to pay for the dross that passes as news and all the other politically correct garbage masquerading as drama. As for Question Time (or “Shout at the Telly” as it was known back when I did watch it), the least said the better.

    I’m waiting for some oaf from Capita to show up on my doorstep so I can politely tell him to sling his hook. Especially if he starts with the “anything you say may be taken down and used in evidence…” at which point I will ask him to produce his warrant card and when he can’t I’ll ask for him to confirm his identity so I can report him for impersonating a police officer.

    About a year ago I did get a notice through the letter box to state that the inspector had called but no one was in. Lying bastard, I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea when I heard the letterbox open. He didn’t even bother to ring the doorbell.

    I’d love my day in court with this so I can call the signatories of the letters they send out warning of what might befall me if I don’t cough up., as witnesses. Surely a letter “signed” by a person that does not exist has no standing in law? Plus I will ask them to provide evidence that such letters were delivered (they aren’t sent recorded delivery).

    As you say Tim, the reliance is on intimidation and ignorance of one’s rights under the law.

  2. Yes I recall that everyone paid it even the real wide boys who were robbing everything under the sun. Some memories of a televised black and white warning on the box of dudes driving around in a van with rotating antennas identifying unlicensed tellies as well. My uncle worked for Radio Rentals in some pretty tough areas, coin operated tellies and the like, he told some grim tales about the poverty and deprivation but they just had to have the telly. He would have to collect the money out of the box.

  3. Try it out in Germany. You have to pay whether or not you have a TV (got rid of mine in 1998), and it’s a staggering €210 a year. Which is, of course, not enough for the bottomless pit of trashy state TV, which wants more, more, and more.

  4. As the quality of the BBC’s output has got progressively crapper, their antics to try to enforce the unenforceable have become more and more thuggish.

    Mirrors pretty well every other aspect of the UK state sector.

    There are probably many reasons, immigration will undoubtedly be one of them.

    It does mean that returning to the UK for someone like me becomes a more and more unattractive prospect.

    Rather depressing.

  5. I got rid of the TV about ten years ago, and have never regretted it. If I now see TV programmes (at a friend’s house, or on the computer) they appear so unbearably formulaic and clunky that I can’t watch for too long. I had a look at some of those websites, which seem to be run by would-be hard-nut anarchist types who are full of military and legal bullshit about what authority figures can and cannot do on your doorstep. But all I ever received was a polite letter from the agency thanking me for letting them know that I had got rid of the telly.

    Your point about immigrants is excellent. I wonder what else it applies to? Anyone would think that Blair et al actually wanted to create a low-trust society; that it somehow suited their purposes, or something…

  6. “Detector vans, even taking the charitable assumption that there is such a thing and they work, number around a dozen at most.”

    Well, this is true; there never were that many at all. However, they did work, to a quite a decent degree of accuracy as well, and I was dismissive of their existence until about 1988, when I suddenly got a quick grounding in computer security requirements at work, and elements of Tempest came up.

    Tempest was/is the British set of standards for electronic and computer security; part of it deals with shielding yer old style CRTs from emitting radio frequencies. The Yanks’ Orange Book standards were pretty much the same. It was the signals emitted by the CRT that the vans detected, and I had an impromptu demonstration of the technology a couple of years later, by accident.

    So, they did work. But, by the late seventies they started to have problems, which was partly due to the switch to digital electronics, but also technology improvements generally, such that TVs were better shielded and the tubes didn’t emit so much anyway (IIRC, it was the Trinitron tube that was the final nail in that coffin.)

    But that’s largely irrelevant, since better results, that is, purchases of TV Licenses, were obtained simply by driving the dummy van slowly down a couple of streets in any given town once a few years, plus the requirement that the vendor of a TV record the name and address of the buyer, so once Radio Rentals and Granada really got going the vans weren’t really needed anyway. They pretty much populated the database with addresses, and ever since then, TV Licensing has just been sending the letters out based on changes in the Electoral Roll and the Land Registry databases.

  7. Your point about immigrants is excellent. I wonder what else it applies to?

    Damned near everything, I imagine. Blair should be hanged for what he did.

  8. It was the signals emitted by the CRT that the vans detected

    Yes, I did know that; plus I think they worked by picking up the signal the TV sends to neutralise the carrier wave. I know they sort of worked in theory, what I was always doubtful of was whether they could definitively say “Yes, this person is watching this channel in that room there” like they implied. I expect they relied on the flickering through the curtains as much as anything their machine picked up.

  9. “what I was always doubtful of was whether they could definitively say “Yes, this person is watching this channel in that room there”

    Sort of. Given that there were only three channels available, the method could (given decent gear, getting close enough, and a decent tailwind), get a pretty identifiable set of blurs to distinguish between BBC1, 2 and ITV. but there wasn’t much point in going to that level really.

    That said, WRT to what Tempest was intended to defend against, it was almost definitely a given that using very good kit, that an 80×25 command line display could be reconstructed from quite a surprising distance. Certainly the little demo I got left me in no doubt about that.

  10. It may be true a lot of immigrants are only here for what our feeble government can give them, and as many of them don’t like our culture they have little interest in paying back into a system that nurtures them. A TV licence fee would be chickenfeed to those of them who shouldn’t be here and don’t pay taxes while working for their mates in exchange for cash and a place to sleep. But I also think a lot of immigrants have no interest watching Al-Beeb’s output even if it was free, despite all the guff Auntie ladles out about loving our New Friends.

    I am about to move and would love to kick the telly into touch as we go, but my family like watching some of it and while I can argue the good stuff ends up on DVD I have to weigh up the fact that a handful of DVDs works out at the same price as the current licence fee.

    Now if only there was a TV that didn’t pick up Al-Beeb and merely allowed me to watch all the other channels… Hmmm

  11. We’ve been without TV for 20 years. I refuse to fund the BBC. Most TV is dross. What isn’t dross is available on DVD – either to buy, or to borrow from the local ‘library’.

    “Damned near everything, I imagine. Blair should be hanged for what he did.”

    Indeed. And your point about high-trust vs low-trust societies is well made, though immigration is not the only reason for lower levels of trust. I grew up in a declining north-east England port in the 1950s where nobody locked their doors. The remnants of wartime solidarity contributed to this, along with greater religious belief, bobbies on the beat, strict schools, adults who would and could discipline other people’s brats, and – as you suggest – racial homogeneity.

  12. I’ve not watched TV for years. Most of it is crap and I don’t want to fund a leftie organisation. I’ve had the threatening letter, took one down to Plod and complained that I was being sent threatening letters about a charge I did not owe. They were happy to start a case until they seen where the threatening letters came from. Then they kicked me out.

    I very much doubt the TV detector vans can read anything from a modern TV. They don’t radiate like the CRTs used to and even if they did, how can they tell the difference between a DVD, a home video, a YouTube or a TV programme?

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