Comment and Answer

For those of you who say I don’t give other opinions air, I present this:

2 responses to The TV Detector Van

Just goes to show… a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

The “TV Licensing Authority” is the BBC. The BBC subcontract their TV licence enforcement and operations to several companies, which act under the TV Licensing trade name.

We exclusively revealed on our blog that the BBC has never, ever used evidence from detector vans in the prosecution of an alleged licence fee evader. The vans are something they like to “big up” for deterrent value, but they are rarely used in practice. In the rare instances they are used, it is to gather evidence needed for a search warrant application (which is rarer than hen’s teeth).


I was under the impression that the licensing authority was run by the Post Office, but the funds pay for the BBC.

The Licencing authority isn’t much more helpful:

TV Licensing informs people of the need to buy a TV Licence. We send licence renewal letters and we process queries, applications and payments. We also maintain a database of licensed and unlicensed addresses in the UK and use this technology to identify and visit people we believe may be using a TV receiver without a valid licence.

Although I did find this:

What is TV Licensing and what is its relationship to the BBC?

‘TV Licensing’ is a trade mark of the BBC and is used under licence by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system. The majority of administration is contracted to Capita Business Services Ltd. (‘Capita’), with cash related payment schemes contracted to iQor UK Ltd. Over-the counter services are provided by PayPoint plc (‘PayPoint’) in the UK mainland and Northern Ireland, and by the Post Office in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Marketing and printing services are contracted to Proximity London Ltd as are public relations and advertising services. The latter are subcontracted by Proximity to Fishburn Hedges Boys Williams Ltd, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd and PHD Media Ltd. The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing functions and retains overall responsibility.

I would say it’s quibbling to say who actually runs the authority, if your point is that the BBC is the main beneficiary of the licence fee, we couldn’t bne in more of an agreement. My knowledge of the licencing authority is dated, but it is unimportant to me who runs it as much as what it does.

The BBC assumed responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the television licensing system from the Home Office in 1991.

And your statement about a “little knowledge” reflects more on your understanding of this post–I know the BBC is the only beneficiary of the licence fee. Perhaps, you should try to understand what you are reading since you basically confirm what I say in this post, with the exception of quibbling about who runs the licensing authority.

But since the BBC is “publicly funded”, the licence fees serve to keep it non-commercial. Unlike US public broadcasting, where they have to beg for funds and are otherwise made to be commercial through “underwriting”, the BBC can remain non-commercial.

Britain could get rid of licence fees and become commercial as is the US. That would mean that most of the programming would be not worth watching, unless you enjoy commercials and commercial interruptions.

Whether or not the “Licencing authority” is part of the Post Office or the BBC, we are in agreement that the “licence detetor vans” are more PR than a true enforcement tool. Most people obediently pay their licence fees. Yet, the BBC is not as well funded as it would like despite public funding.

Personally, I would prefer to see the BBC better managed financially then they are now, but there is institutional laziness which precludes their marketing some of their better product on DVD (e.g., the Goodies). They also pretty much trashed their archives losing classic TV series which they could have rereleased which shorts them of funds.

Maybe they should have week long (or longer) begathons like US public broadcasting to augment their funding. Would you like that? Would you like roughly half your viewing time to be taken up by commercial interruptions as they are in the US?

The fact that some BBC programmes are also made for US audiences (e.g., Doctor Who) explains why they are shorter (47 minutes) than other programmes. They are shorter for all the commercials show in the other markets.


17/03/2012 at 13:44

Paul seems to have missed the last line of the TV Detector Van post, which was:

Of course, I think this is more PR than any actual threat, but they do have these things driving around.

OK. who runs the licensing authority isn’t as important as what the licence pays for, and that is for the BBC to run.

Peter runs a website for those adverse to paying the licence fee. Amsuingly enough, there was a post from a CaptainUKIP. Amusing since the UKIP stands for UK independence Party, does the destruction of a national institution such as the BBC, which would probably be replaced by some multinational organisation (E.G., Newscorp’s Sky).

While the BBC might promote “lefty” points of view in these people’s opionion, it is considered one of the most reliable news sources in the world.

I would also add that the licence fee is paying for the privilege of BBC programming. I want to pay my part since I use the service and do not begrudge having to do so.

%d bloggers like this: