I’ve made a new years resolution: watch more TV.
While living in halls in Bradford, I didn’t have a TV of my own, and only occasionally had the chance to watch someone else’s. Although I managed this for 3 months, I’ve decided that next term, I’ll take a TV and video (VCR) with me. I have a portable colour TV in my room (originally bought for my father in 1990 after his back operation so that he could watch the World Cup in bed), and the video became surplus to requirement when my parents bought a new one – this one dates back to the late eighties when its predecessor finally died on us. That said, it’s not failed on us yet; just because it’s old doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, though picture quality isn’t as good as modern units.
You may be wondering why I didn’t take a TV the first time. It wasn’t because there wasn’t space in my room, or because I couldn’t have one. It’s because I need a license for it.
Now while any UK homeowner will now be groaning, those of you not from the UK may be thinking something on the lines of “WTF?”. You probably know that we have the brilliant organisation that is the BBC. Well, the BBC is a ‘public service broadcaster’ – it is appointed by the government to work in the interests of the public (do not get this confused with being state-controlled – the BBC is perfectly entitled to criticise the government if it so desires). Anyway, an act of parliament means that the BBC cannot broadcast commercial advertising on any of its TV or radio stations, which makes it a little difficult to make money. So we have the TV license.
Basically, you pay £112/£37.50 per year to be able to use one or more colour/black and white TVs (or VCRs or PCTV tuner cards, or anything that can receive a TV signal) in your home, which pays for the BBC’s TV, radio, internet and interative outputs. So all you non-UK people are using the BBC’s online services at our expense…
Owning a TV (or similar) without a valid license results in a fine of up to £1000, and possible court appearances, and can adversely affect your credit rating. Until recently, student halls of residences were covered under students’ parents’ licenses, but that has since changed, so to be able to watch TV I had to buy a license.
Anyway, TV Licensing’s website gives you information about how to pay, including a Direct Debit form to print off, or alternatively an online payment system for paying by credit or debit card (but you have to pay the whole lot, whereas direct debit lets you pay in monthly installments). So I printed off the form, and popped it in the post.
The site also has information about how those with an unlicensed TV are caught, including a rather humourous excuses page which lists some of the more bizarre real excuses given to inspectors when they turn up at people’s doors.