Archive for the ‘Television Licences’ Category

Television Licence Fee Fraud?????

Screenshot from 2018-12-29 14-47-10Seriously!

I’ve been getting obviously fake e-mails telling me there is a problem with my Television Licence. OK, they are using the e-mail addy that the BBC has for me, but these are fake.

And they are so obviously fake that it boggles my mind. First off, the licence number is wrong. Secondly, this isn’t how I pay my fee. Thirdly, my licence doesn’t expire at the end of this month.

I thought I would be nice and pass the e-mails on to the licensing folk, but they appear to not want to be bombarded with fake licence e-mails. And I’ve gotten a few of these, which I usually blow off. This one was too silly to not comment about.

headerAnyway, the Licensing Authority has a page on this nonsense for what it’s worth. One of the Licensing Authority’s suggestions is to check the e-mail address of the sender, which this one is fake.

SWF verification change at the Beeb?

Disclaimer: yes, I could use the official BBC iPlayer programme, but it isn’t as fun.  not to mention that the BBC shouldn’t be blocking open source software per its charter. Not to mention SWF verification doesn’t really work.

It seems that the Beeb has once again changed the SWF verification URL meaning that get_iplayer is acting up and I am receiving this error message:

WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade

This is nonsensical for several reasons: the major one being that there was no problem earlier in the day.  I am also using the latest update for all the components of get-iplayer.  On the other hand, the last time this happened, the Beeb had changed the SWF verification URL and there was the simple fix of:

get_iplayer –prefs-add –rtmp-tv-opts=”–swfVfy=http://www.bbc.co.uk/emp/releases/iplayer/revisions/617463_618125_4/617463_618125_4_emp.swf”

Yes, the issue is a changes SWF verification URL since I tried it in my browser and received a 404 error and then a “this content doesn’t seem to be working” error:

swfurl 404

Of course, the simple fix was provided by the good people who have been maintaining get_iplayer lately.  I did a search to try and locate a newer patch, but there are a few problems here which are:

1) I received an e-mail saying that get_iplayer forum digests were no longer being sent out.
2) I searched the get_iplayer forum and didn’t see a recent post on this (Latest was December 2013).
3) I couldn’t post to the get_iplayer Forum even though I was on the get_iplayer mailing list

I was hoping to receive the new swfvfy url patch from a get_iplayer list mailing, but that hasn’t happened.  I tried to login to the forum, but received a message asking me to supplicate the forum mods to join (even though I’ve been on the list for yonks).

In short,  I’ve done everything dinkypumpkin says to do in the “When SWF Verification Attacks” post and am reckoning the issue is a change in the SWF URL.  OTH, I haven’t seen anything in the get_iplayer forum to tell me there has been:

1) a change in the URL
2) a new patch issued
3) if I am the only person with this problem.

I’m not sitting around on my thumbs here and have been trying to find some way to learn the new SWF verification URL, but I think that may be covered by the Official Secrets Act (after all, BBC employees are government workers).  I should also add that I tried playing with the RTMPdump commands that are listed here: in particular:

−−swfVfy −W url
URL of the SWF player for this media. This option replaces all three of the −−swfUrl, −−swfhash, and −−swfsize options. When this option is used, the SWF player is retrieved from the specified URL and the hash and size are computed automatically. Also the information is cached in a .swfinfo file in the user’s home directory, so that it doesn’t need to be retrieved and recalculated every time rtmpdump is run. The .swfinfo file records the URL, the time it was fetched, the modification timestamp of the SWF file, its size, and its hash. By default, the cached info will be used for 30 days before re-checking.

Only to get more error messages about RTMPdump and that I am not using the correct URL.

I know that this will all pass, as it has in the past, but the problem is that this is yet another annoyance which will be overcome.  As I said in my disclaimer, SWF verification doesn’t work.

And it sure as hell doesn’t stop the pirates.

(Give up and allow for a PBS style donation licence fee system for those outside the UK, but that raises other issues with DRM).

As if we didn’t know this already…

Or the licence fee dodgers are correct when they complain about repeats on the Beeb.

According to the Radio Times, a Freedom of Information request has revealed that almost two thirds of BBC programmes aired last year were repeats. an average of 63% of programmes broadcast across the BBC channels (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4) during 2012 had already been aired. BBC3 was arguably the worst offender with 3,196 (85%) of its programmes coming from repeats. BBC1 transmitted 2,793 repeat programmes in the period, around a third of its output. 4,423 BBC2 shows were repeats. BBC4 had already shown 2,604 hours, or 78% of its output.

The BBC’s statement regarding reruns said: “Repeats on the BBC are carefully scheduled to reach different audiences. On BBC2, many of its repeats are of classic shows. For example, we have recently shown Dad’s Army and The Good Life, chosen to offer viewers an alternative to what the other channels are showing.”

I noticed they recently reran I, Claudius, which gets to my gripe that there are a lot of classic programmes in their archives which they don’t use: e.g., Take Three Girls and The Borderers. I should add that I’ve also been watching classics such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Shadow of the Tower which are both contemporary to the Borderers, yet they are complete and available on DVD.  Not sure how some series can exist fairly completely, yet others do not.  I know that sometimes this is due to the tapes being broadcast in other countries.

Anyway, it seems that some good new material is in the pipeline with Professor Mary Beard presenting a documentary on Caligula.   I’ve got to admit that I find Prof. Beard kind of hot in a sapiosexual way which means that this sounds seriously promising.  I need to rewatch the Pompeii documentary, but I remember another of her documentaries on the Romans which she truly demonstrated a love of the topic.  Although she joked to the audience at the Telegraph Hay Festival that “no one, but no one can tweet this, otherwise I will get into such trouble”.

Really now…

Anyway, it’s far too late for regrets now–I’m prepped for some serious intellectual porn!

See also: Hay Festival 2013: Mary Beard making Caligula documentary

Sponsor a Licence Fee Protester!

Ever since I’ve learned about people such as Peter and other people who actively protest TV licensing, I’ve had this thought that the BBC could post a list of unlicensed properties, or some other way that people like me could sponsor the licence fee for these people.

US Public Broadcasting allows for people to give gift “memberships”, why doesn’t the BBC allow for gift licensing?  It could even be on an anonymous basis!

Although, the advantage of sponsoring a Licence Fee Protester is that not only do I get to pay extra, paying their licence fee for them will annoy the heck out of the protester.

Of course, that defeats the purpose of licensing and getting the protesters to understand WHY they should pony up for a licence.

Conspiracy to defraud?

I think that copyright matters, and is important. Creators ought to be legally able to give their work away freely, as so many do for the betterment of humankind, and to set certain conditions on how their work is used. And I think creators ought to be able to release their work under traditional copyright and have legal recourse against those who are illegally profiting from it.

There have been a couple of cases here relating to sites which offered links to TV and video content: Anton Vickerman and Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer.  I have to admit that I find these prosecutions to be disturbing.  Although, I do find solace in this comment:

“This was not a case brought using copyright law. The interest groups involved couldn’t present a case of copyright infringement and instead decided to press for the use of the common law offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud’,” said UK Pirate party leader Loz Kaye. “This is one of the most controversial crimes in English law – it criminalises conduct by two or more people that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.

The offence was notoriously used in the 1970s to prevent people sharing film cassettes as the TV and film industry believed video was a threat to their existence.”

Since I do talk a lot about downloading material, but usually for my own personal use. I also talk about feeling somewhat guilty that I can’t pay more than my fair share for the material I download–although I am more than covered under the UK TV licensing scheme.  I can add in that these people were doing this for profit, and I’m just linking back to official sites where the material can be found.

I will also add that I do not like downloading via Torrent, but would prefer if archived material were better available.  Although, if someone is inclined to go that route, it is far more available than I would like.

Graham Linehan, writer of the sitcoms The IT Crowd, Black Books and Father Ted,  said the prosecution itself – not just the potential extradition – was a cause for alarm.

“It just seems to me that people like Richard are being punished for being able to navigate the modern world,” said Linehan. “The internet has changed everything, they’re doing what comes naturally in these new, uncharted waters and suddenly they’re getting their collars felt by people who still have Hotmail addresses.

And then [there’s] the sheer shocking arbitrary nature of it all … to be told that you could face up to 10 years for sharing links? When I heard that Nora Ephron died, I shared on Twitter a link to the full version of When Harry Met Sally on YouTube. Am I a criminal now? Why? Why not?”

The strange this is that US authorities become concerned about a site linking to content often still within copyright. To sell a counterfeit CD or DVD of a copyrighted work is an offence, as is deliberately uploading such a work to the internet. On the other hand, they are now hitting people who link to copyrighted material. The whole thing makes absolutely no sense on its face.

Additionally, the prosecutions are happening for events happening outside of the US with no direct connection to US territory.

I can add in that Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, launched a change.org petition against the O’Dwyer extradition attempt. Naturally, I signed it. This is too frightening to not sign.

Read more:

YES! LiveStation!

BBC Televised World News is available through LiveStation’s Premium Service!

I’m in heaven!

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!

In my desire to pay more than my fair share for BBC service, I came up with this story.

It seems that while the US House of Representatives is defunding US Public Radio, the United States is currently giving a grant of $4.5 million to the BBC World Service Trust!

In fact,  The Guardian reported that the U.S. government was considering an increase in BBC funding, the State Department denied that claim in a letter to the editor.

Go figure!

Well, actually, I can come up with an explanation for this.  The BBC has a much better reputation for accuracy and objectivity than does Voice of America.  On the other hand, depriving US citizens of an objective source of media (sort of since US citizens can access the World Service, sort of) is non-nonsensical.  Of course, control of information is one of the more infamous propaganda techniques.

Nordic Noir

My wife was asking me about when the latest series of the Killing (aka Forbrydelsen, meaning The Crime) was going to appear on BBC Four.  Alas, that is yet to come, but the Radio Times has announced that more Nordic Noir will be hitting the airwaves soon.  The only one of these new series with a definite start date is the Bridge, which is coming to BBC4 on 21 April at 21:00.

On the other hand, the Radio Times mentions a few other series which have made it to the airwaves on both sides of the pond, Lilyhammer, which was put out by Netflix in the US and NRK in Norway, will show up sometime in the future on BBC4.  The plot line is somewhat hackneyed–Criminal gets put in witness protection, but in this case, he finds himself in a totally different culture.  Steven Van Zandt is basically rediong his role as Silvio Dante from the Sopranos.  The series is OK, but a bit of a stretch.  Jonseing Sopranos fans tend to like it though.

The Danish version of the Killing has not officially made it to the US, which is why I mention DRM here.  Also, its relevant since Lillyhammer was “broadcast” by Netflix over its internet streaming service.  Likewise, the US version of the Killing showed up on the US Cable channel AMC.  It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4.  Although, I gave the US version a pass. Fans of the Danish series felt let down since the US series tried to make it a cliffhanger and not announce whodunit.

Of course, all the networks would prefer that you watch the version officially sanctioned for your locale.  That means people in the US should not have seen the Danish version of the Killing, or they caught it through the grey areas of distribution: buying another region’s DVDs or downloading from the BBC.  Although, the Killing is readily available in the bit-torrent underground, as I found whilst researching this piece.

Of course, buying another region’s DVDs is the best way for the studios to make their money, short of the BBC coming up with a scheme for non-UK residents to get a licence which doesn’t hit the UK licence holders.  Although, there is still the download underground, whether directly from the BBC or via bit-torrent.

It doesn’t take too long for a show to appear as a bit-torrent after it has been broadcast in the UK.  In fact, one episode of  BBC 2’s White Heat didn’t appear immediately after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.  I almost googled (or used a bit-torrent search engine) it to see if it was on bit torrent.  Although, I can come up with more reasons not to want to go the bit torrent route than to do it.

Amusingly enough, BBC world service radio is rebroadcast through Sirius/XM and Vermont Public Radio in the States, which makes me wonder why they aren’t blocking it to US IP addresses.  World Service TV is not available in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan.  I know it is rebroadcast via cable in the US on Xfinity (at least WDC). Although, I am not sure the situation in other US media markets.

Personally, I prefer to remain within the law rather than skirt it.  Although, I would feel much better if I could make a contribution to the BBC for all their material that I use.  But, I have no television reception meaning I can’t access the material short of satellite or cable–which I am not paying for! Radio reception in my area is poor, and I access that material through the internet while broadcast.  No “live” viewing–no licence necessary!

Somehow, I find DRM blocking the end user from accessing the material as being counterproductive.  The entire idea is to make sure that the rights holder makes money, but if it isn’t reaching as large an audience as possible–are they really making as much money as they could? And while the free market system talks about personal choice, the ultimate person who should be able to choose is the consumer–not the producer.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part IV)

At this point, I’m going to try to tie together the thoughts I’ve mentioned in the previous three posts to try and come up with a coherent whole.

1) The BBC is a public broadcasting service

The major problem with this one is who exactly is the public and who exactly funds it. The BBC has a split personality between the internal services and the World Service. Not to mention that Britons can be found throughout the world (ex-Pats)

2) How does one fund such a being?

Is it truly fair for the British people to be the only ones expected to pay for this service? Why can’t external users contribute as well? Do you need need to use TV Detector Vans?

3) Can the BBC management deal with reality?
I know one of the higher ups has also suggested charging for iPlayer use, but I can’t find the citation in my posts. On the other hand, it is mentioned quite a bit as a possibility

There are major  problems with requiring people to either have licences and use iPlayer–the main one being that most people have already paid the licence fee.  There is a small subset of people are able to get away without having a licence yet still sble to use the iPlayer service.

I could reinvent the wheel, but this is a very good post by Paul Sawers  on why people should pay the licence fee:
thenextweb.com/uk/2012/01/21/theres-no-i-in-iplayer-heres-why-the-tv-licence-fee-must-be-preserved-in-the-uk/

In fact, that is pretty much my position on why the fee should be paid.  I use the service and I want to contribute.

Paul did neglect that the licence fee is also supposed to be fair.  There are methods by which one can be exempted from paying the fee.  Not to mention, there are reduced fees and exemptions (e.g., a 50% reduction on the TV Licence fee if you’re blind/severely sight impaired and Second homes).  And you can’t just pay money to the BBC because you really like their programmes since that money is supposed to come from the licence fee. So, that rules out somebody paying MORE for the service than they have to–that drives the Beeb even nuttier than trying to get a licence for a non-existent address!

Ultimately,  The BBC is a British institution, paid for by the British Public.  It is responsive to its public (well, to some extent).  The British Public should respect it as much as it does government.

To quote Paul Sawers:

But unlike Virgin, Sky, Netflix and such like, nobody has a choice of whether they pay for a TV licence or not. You may never actively watch a BBC programme or visit its website, but you’re sure as hell paying for it if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Even for those that do enjoy BBC content, the ‘lack of choice’ element to the licence fee still gets some people riled.

But here’s the thing. If you were to give people a choice, many would choose not to pay for it and the BBC as we know it would crumble. However, it’s a public service, just as the NHS, police force and fire brigade are, and it should be preserved.

Nothing grates me more than when someone complains about having to pay taxes for services they never use. Speaking to Q magazine last year, superstar singer Adele said:

“I’m mortified to have to pay 50%! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are shit, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [the album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”

There are way too many ‘I’ and ‘my’ references in there. So Adele is rich and doesn’t want to pay for things she doesn’t use? My heart bleeds. The scourge of individualism is growing, and this ‘pull the ladder up and screw the rest’ culture is such a bad omen for society. It’s indicative of a much deeper problem, where people care more about themselves than the success of ‘society’.

Just because the BBC deals in news, entertainment, information and education doesn’t make it any less vital for UK society than a health service. And just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

And Paul is correct when he points out how little the licence costs in relation to other things.  If one considers that one can see a play, opera, ballet, film, and so on–especially a Covent Garden one as part of this service, it is a bargain.  Paul and I are in complete agreement when he says:

But the underlying philosophy (at the BBC) is a sound one – an ad-free public service broadcaster that EVERYONE pays for. That must be preserved, and the UK would be much worse off without it.

Now, my proposal is to stop with the threats and get down to what the BBC is supposed to do: educate. Educate the public as to what an important institution the BBC is to British Culture. Point out that cooperation is what makes Britain work.

Even better yet, show what it’s like in other countries where Public Broadcasting is whining about the lack of support. And the rampant commercialism which one sees in US broadcasting (even the public sector).

As Paul says, But over and above all this, the BBC offers everyone a little respite from the commercially-driven media that permeates every nook and cranny around the world. In the UK, the BBC is an ad-free zone, and it must remain so.

I couldn’t agree more.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part III)

Once again, to recap, Three of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In the first of these two posts, we discuss how the BBC is truly public broadcasting on a global scale supported by public funding. In the Second, we deal with the official attitude of BBC management to this reality, which is to try and deny it.  In this one, we are going to talk about a more positive method to try to get public support.

So, while the BBC says it is cash strapped, they have a far larger budget than US Public Broadcasting.  In fact, I believe that the percentage of people who support the BBC through licence fees is far better than support US Public Broadcasting through the extort-a-thon pledge drives.  Despite this, the BBC believes it makes sense to have the TV licence system brow beat the British Public into paying for the service.

Maybe she would get more respect if we just started calling her "Auntie"!

I could get into the TV detector vans, but I will leave that to Peter.  In fact, Peter’s blog does a pretty good job of getting into the excesses and silliness of the TV licensing system.

BUT, I support the licensing system, not the method by which it tries to get people to support it.

The BBC is a British institution.  I would say it is probably more important than the monarchy, which–given that I am a Royalist–is saying a lot about how important the BBC is to British Culture.  As I said in another post, the fact that “Captain UKIP” is not an ardent supporter of the Beeb makes me truly question how much he supports the UK and its culture.  But, I have my opinions about the UKIP as well and they are not good, but that’s not germane to this post.

The BBC should emphasise how much of a British Institution it is and was intended to be.  It is the public face of Britain, which is one of the many problems it has when it tries to block its material from anyone, or seem authoritiarian in getting people to pay their licence fees..

Of course, I think the BBC should be willing to follow one point in the US Public Broadcasting paradigm, which is to accept the support of its public.  And since that public is worldwide, they should accept it from the world–Not just Britain.  But, they also shouldn’t have to resort to extort-a-thons either.

Of course, there are other ways that the BBC could get more funds besides solely relying upon licence fees.  One of the categories of these posts is the BBC archives.  This is for good reason, how much material isn’t released on DVD for various reasons?  For example, the BBC has this institutional hate for the Goodies and have been pretty bad about releasing their material on DVD.  That’s a topic I’ve covered before.

Of course, BBC archival policies have led to the loss of some classic TV.  I’ve mentioned how the BBC destroyed some classic programmes, which can be researched at these sites:

Fortunately, not everyone was as short sited about this material, but it didn’t survive through the efforts of the BBC.  Can the BBC release things such as “Take Three Girls”, “The Reivers”, and so on, or are they lost forever? Is that a lost revenue stream for them?

The licence resister's nightmare, after a few visits from the TV Detector van, these chappies blow their door down and arrest them for not having a TV licence!

If the major problem to this is that there are right’s holders in other countries which would block the iPlayer downloads, then these other rights holders should start trying to make the material more widely available.  Direct TV in the US has “ethnic” packages, why not ptovide British TV to US audiences (other than some of the other digital rights issues involved)?  Isn’t it the remit of the BBC to make sure this material is as widely seen as is possible? I know that the BBC has satellite coverage for most of the world.

The problem with making people pay for iPlayer material is that some of them have already paid the licence fee, but what about paying for accessing some of the archival material (e.g., the BBC 4 Talk Collection)?  Also, why not try to get the material (such as the Goodies) out officially, rather than the bootleg versions one can find on the internet?

Also, what about the people who use iPlayer material, but don’t jhave a licence?  I know that BBC management would like to get them to pay their fair share, which is the topic of the next post.

Does the BBC need the money or not?  What is the best way to try and collect it?

See also:

Curses, foiled by the licensing authority…

My attempt to get a TV License as:

Mr. David Camoron
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Was rejected by them.

Fake addresses do not work for getting a TV license.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part II)

I want to reiterate some things I mentioned in Part I of this:

Two of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In Ye Olden Dayes, the BBC Motto was “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”.  I don’t think it has changed.

In this post, we deal with the topic of funding the BBC, in particular the licence fee. The BBC’s Website says that one does not need a licence if “you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast”:

That’s also reiterated on Peter’s blog, and confirmed by someone at the BBC. Who said:

“I’m afraid you can’t pay a TV licence if you live outside the UK, but you shouldn’t be able to access the iPlayer either so I am intrigued!

Unfortunately, due to the miracle of the Internet, you can get this material from anywhere in the world. So, not only does  one who access the BBC material from outside they UK not have to pay a licence fee, they won’t take your money.

Additionally, blocking movement in the modern world, especially via internet is pretty hard.  Government can track it to some extent, but it is hard to block.  Which should fit into the BBC’s mission if you ask me, but some at the Beeb officially disagree (some unofficially admit that I am correct–more about that in a later post) as the comment above points out.

I pointed out to my contact at the Beeb that it depends on which iPlayer material one is talking about–radio is open to non-UK residents. In fact, my internet radio is mostly BBC, with the exception of Classic FM.  Classic FM is less tetchy about who listens as well, only requiring one to input a British Post Code to access it!

If even that!

But, Televised material. Well, that is another topic. It is indeed available to users outside the UK. I’d prefer not to say  of accessing it since the BBC would upset quite a few people in the UK if they tried shutting it down.  In fact, the boffins have tried shutting down the method that one can access BBC material when outside the UK, which was an experiment that lasted less than a day!  Or even a few hours at that matter.

In old fashioned broadcasting terms, the way someone is able to access this material roughly the equivalent of not being able to block TV/radio signals from going where they will. It can be done, but you also risk blocking the signal of your internal audience (i.e., those who are paying their licence fees).  Although, there ia another BBC purpose which they run afoul of if they try to keep people from outside the UK accessing the iPlayer material:  Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services.

So,  trying to block access violates three public purposes as set out in the BBC’s Royal Charter mentioned above.  It is totally counterproductive for the BBC’s mission statement to block access to its material.

Nope, no one living here--I guess I can't get a Television Licence!

Not to mention, they end up with egg on their faces when it comes out that they tried something as silly as that.  That’s what China does, not Britain!

The reason I contacted the BBC is because I blog about UK TV licensing. One of my pro-licensing posts was commented upon by Peter who runs the blogspot blog on TV licensing. It seems there are those within the UK who don’t want to pay their fair share.

Unlike our TV license resisting crowd,There are people who are willing to pony up since I am using the service. I mentioned that I was thinking of using the address to apply for a licence to see what would happen:

21 Framley Road
Effing Sodbury TL3 8RZ

TL3 8RZ being the Post Code used in a BBC Weather advert, which is one of my high ranking blog posts.  Of course, I could use the street in the weather advert

Of course, an alternative address is

1 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1A 1AA

It would be amusing to see the licensing folks face when they need to contact that one!

I do have a couple of Scottish and UK Addresses given I have property there, but  the Scottish ones are undeveloped land (oops, property is not occupied).  I’d love to see the face on the TV Detector van crew if they decided to bust that property!  The problem with using a IK address is that you need to have someone who is willing to field any mail.

In fact, the BBC website. linked to my Anna Nicole The Opera post  since I say:

I’m not sure I would want to pay Covent Garden prices to see this, but it will definitely be worth the TV Licence fees on the BBC!

Thank you, Auntie! yer darn tootin’ I added it to my iPlayer playlist!

If one considers, that the cost of a licence is only 149.50, that is less than a good ticket to see a Covent Garden production.  And you don’t feel too bad if you walk out after 15 minutes!

Unlike US Public Broadcasting, who are willing to take the money since they know they need it–The BBC are turning people away!  Maybe they have too large a budget that they can avoid all the ways to make money that they do.

Of course, as Peter who runs the blogspot site, will happily tell me, as long as one is not watching the material when it’s being broadcast (sort of difficult), one doesn’t need a licence–even within the UK.  He probably thinks that this post is a bit mad as well–why support the BBC if you don’t absolutely HAVE to (which is the topic of Part III).

Like it or not, the BBC is not just a UK broadcasting service, its mission is to broadcast to the world.  In a way, it is part of the heritage of Empire that people from outside the UK will feel an affinity for it, The BBC should be thankful when the world is willing to give back to them.

Of course, there is a schizophrenia in the BBC institution between the World Service and Internal BBC.  I believe at one time, the World Service was under the auspices of the Foreign Office (now, it’s the World Service Trust, as opposed to the BBC Trust).  And while Nations may speak unto Nation, I don’t think that Internal and Externals Services talk unto each other.  Additionally, I don’t think that the internal services realise that they also serve the ex-pat community and Brits abroad on holiday–whether they like it or not.

Perhaps, the internal services should do a bit more market research on their audience–and accept comments from ALL their users, not just UK residents.

See also:

P.S. I also advocate the use of region free DVD and Blu-ray players.

This is where it gets interesting

If you have access to the Internet, then you can receive BBC Television whilst it is being broadcast from anywhere in the world (despite what the BBC, or TV Licence Resisters such as Peter, would like to admit).

Of course, if you want to be legal, then you can’t watch it whilst actually being broadcast.

Or you could input a licence number.

Just remember, the BBC will not issue a Television licence for viewing outside the UK!

So, as long as you download your stuff within the UK, you’re OK!

Do you really need a Television Licence?

Everyone will tell you that you need a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast. Watching while during broadcast includes the use of devices such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone or DVD/video recorder.

It isn’t really enough to say that you don’t watch as a programme is broadcast–there is actually a process for exemption from being licensed

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/what-if-a-tv-licence-is-not-needed-top12/

The declaration process is found here:

https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/nln/index.aspx

In my case,the BBC has told me that not only do I not need a licence–they won’t let you have a licence if one is outside the UK! This is because you are technically not supposed to be watching internal BBC material from outside the UK, but more on that in Part II of Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC.

On the other hand, if one hasn’t undergone the process of exemption and passed, then you are whinging. If you can prove you don’t need a licence, then you are exempt.  Although, you can’t honestly claim that if you are at home using a computer attached to the  Internet.

It really isn’t that hard.  I had an encounter or two with the evil Television Detector Van during my university days, and they left me alone when I told them I didn’t own a television. Of course, I dutifully bought a licence once my situation had changed (which I still have as a souvenir).

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part I)

The title from this post comes from the World Services int signal, but it seems quite appropriate.  Two of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In Ye Olden Dayes, the BBC Motto was “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”.  I don’t think it has changed.

NPR’s John Hackenbberry was a guest announcer on the BBC World Service recently and also pointed out that the BBC is indeed public broadcasting in its most pure sense.

In other words, the BBC is truly public radio, which is supported by the British Public through Television licences.

While I understand this, I want to say that I’ve added Peter’s blog, http://tv-licensing.blogspot.com, to my blogroll.  While I disagree with him about paying licence fees and the system of licence fees, I do agree with him about how the BBC tries to raise its funds.  I am of the impression that Peter would say their methods are coercive.  I think we are in agreement that they are misguided.

As regular readers will know, I frequently browse the internet looking for TV Licensing related articles and trivia. Every day someone has a new take on what the TV licence fee is, what it’s for and how it’s enforced.

Peter and I are in agreement that the TV detector van is one of the more idiotic things going…

The question is would people such as Peter prefer to have the BBC follow US public broadcasting’s model and start having “extort-a-thons”? That’s where they take a week or two from regularly scheduled programming to try and shame their viewers into coughing up the cash to run their show. They might show a few minutes of a programme to come on and say “we need x amount of pledges to make our goal”.

One PBS station actually harangued the people who weren’t supporting public broadcasting as a bunch of leeches.

But as the US public broadcasting model points out: “if you have our station on your preset, you are a user. That means you should be a member as well”.

Member being a more polite term than licence holder.

Or you can have commercials.

I would add that US cable not only makes you pay, but they add more commercials to an already over commercially saturated programme. Cable in the US also costs as much, if not far more, than a  Colour Television Licence with, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”.

The ultimate point is that people who use the service should pay for it.  And while US public Broadcasting has a poor ratio of members to listeners, the BBC does not.

There is, of course, another aspect to all this, which is the BBC would like its material to be viewed within the UK due to licensing agreements with its partners (E.g., Discovery Channel and US Public Broadcasting). That is going to be the topic of Part II.

See also: