Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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TV that is free to watch

Use technology to avoid having 'Pay for view' TV channels.
  (+5, -7)
(+5, -7)
  [vote for,

This idea is going to take a little bit of explaining to our American friends ..

In England you have to pay to own a TV. Not just buying it, but once it is bought -- owning it! Believe it or not - you heard me right - just owning a TV means you have to pay for a 'TV License'.

So -- what is this license money (maybe $180 a year) used for? Well we have a few channels that do not have adverts. Instead this money pays for them. Enjoy your advert-free TV.

Now everyone at the moment, whether they watch these stations or not, HAS to give them this wack of money if they have the ABILITY to watch which is given away with all televisions. So you buy a TV from a shop, it immediately has the ability to pick up these stations, and you start paying for them. You CAN NOT turn off the ability to pick up these stations. I can watch 0 hours, 0 minutes of the entire (BBC) network and tough luck, I still have to shell them out my hard-earned cash to them thank-you very much.

The law is actually based on the ability to pick up the signal. Therefore if you ONLY own a computer monitor you don't have to pay the license fee. But if you only own a monitor but have a TV tuner card that can pick up BBC -- you're back into paying.

I propose a way of flashing the ROM of newly sold British TVs so it is physically impossible to tune them into any of the (BBC) channels or frequencies ever again. This will mean the users of these TVs have the CHOICE of paying and watching the BBC channels, or alternatively '1-time altering the ROM' to make viewing of the BBC 'pay to view' channels impossible.

(Are you US people confused yet! It's a remedy to a silly British TV system currently in place)

The option to avoid BBC frequencies can only be set once, and is date/time stamped at the point it is chosen.

If you are taken to court for the license money, with your new TV you can PROVE they have not used the BBC's service at all, by easy analysis of your particular TV's microchips.

Currently everyone pays. The technology is not available to block these particular station's frequencies (permanently) so the court will rule in the network's favour whether you've actually ever watched or not.

britboy, Jul 14 2004

BBC at its best! http://www.bbc.co.u...tv/britaingoeswild/
[po, Oct 05 2004]

BBC Annual Report http://www.bbc.co.u...004/otherinfo.shtml
[angel, Oct 05 2004]

BBC Charter Review (.pdf document) http://www.bbcchart...c_cr_greenpaper.pdf
UK Govt consultation paper. See section 4.23 if you want to stop sleeping well at night. [DrBob, May 16 2005]


       Your TV licence also gets you radio stations!

       Does your licence fee not also contribute to the building and maintaining of TV masts, which are then used to broadcast ITV and Channel 4 (5 is currently broadcast using an empty ice cream carton and a coat hanger)? So even if you don't watch BBC, you are still benefiting from the licence money.
MikeOliver, Jul 14 2004

       But [MikeOlver], even if there weren't commercial free stations and a TV tax, the masts would still be built and maintained by the TV stations with commercials. I would certainly hope that the commercial supported stations are paying their fair share of costs of these broadcast equipment.
scad mientist, Jul 14 2004

       Humble question from a naive American:
How do they enforce this? That is, how do they know who has a TV?
yabba do yabba dabba, Jul 14 2004

       Maybe... I always thought ITV and the others paid much less (or even none) of the costs assosiated with the infrastructure.
If you are right, then I like this idea (although i think the TV licence is quite reasonable for what you get).

       Alternatively, the TV licence people could use their ever so accurate TV detector vans, and go and imposed the £1000 fine on all the licence evaders, and use the money to give everyone else a nice rebate.

       "I never seen so many bleeding aerials. The man said that their equipment could pinpoint a purr at four hundred yards! And Eric, being such a happy cat, was a piece of cake"
MikeOliver, Jul 14 2004

       When brits purchase a TV, I think a form is completed that has the address of the new owner.
I think they work on the idea of licensing addresses rather than sets, or owners.
Ling, Jul 14 2004

       You need a licence to own a VCR.
Anything with a tuner in it!
MikeOliver, Jul 14 2004

       [Britboy], It's not gonna work: the existing license is effectively applicable to every address (who doesn't have a TV?). I can't see the UK law being changed so that income is reduced.
Technically, you are right. +/-
Ling, Jul 14 2004

       //ability to pick up the signal//

I'm not thoroughly familiar with Britain's nutty laws, but I thought that you still pay the TV tax even if you never turn it on. In which case, it doesn't matter what channels it could receive.

There is another solution: Reside on a U.S. military base in Britain. Buy the TV on base (or borrow it, if you're not allowed in the Base Exchange), and there's no TV tax. This may work in a foreign embassy, too.
Amos Kito, Jul 14 2004

       Thats a bit extreme [amos], to save £120.
It's like alot of things that are unfair, but will never be changed. Doesn't make this a bad idea though!
MikeOliver, Jul 14 2004

       Just some perspective, [britboy]: There are those of us who live in the states who would *love* to have the British television system. If we had something like the BBC over here, I might actually own a television. I'd rather pay a tax to have the ability to watch decent commercial free programmes than pay no tax and only get rubbish shows and 50% of the airtime dedicated to commercials.
evilmathgenius, Jul 14 2004

       [evilmathgenius] makes an excellent point.   

       <caveat>I am American, dislike TV, and heretofore knew nothing of these laws in Britain.</caveat>   

       When the costs of broadcasting are paid for by advertising, the networks have to cater not to their viewers but to their advertisers--more accurately to what the advertisers think will appeal to the greatest number of viewers. This leads to a de-facto stifling of minority or unpopular viewpoints, and the possibility of a much more direct stifling of viewpoints contrary to the interests of the corporate advertisers. Americans are learning more and more that a corporate-run media is not a good thing.   

       Thinking Americans envy the BBC. Whatever funding is keeping it going probably deserves to be there.
Etymon, Jul 14 2004

       [emg], don't you get public television? Just about the only thing worth watching, and effectively no commercials. I'm sure that they'd be quite happy to receive the equivalent of £120 from you.   

       Brits: Here in the US we have PBS, effectively a commercial free network that exists by voluntary donations from viewers. With that little bit of money they are able to make wonderful, interesting shows such as Nova.
Worldgineer, Jul 14 2004

       What [Worldgineer] said, plus Austin City Limits. And I know we get BBC news in the states.
yabba do yabba dabba, Jul 14 2004

       Plus there are several BBC channels available through cable.
Worldgineer, Jul 14 2004

       They're silly prices aren't they though [world]?
MikeOliver, Jul 14 2004

       [Worldgineer]- Like I said, I don't own a televison. PBS is not enough motivation for me to get one... just one channel that I'd watch. Plus, its more funded by the viewers and a pittance from the government than the way the BBC is run. Of course I do listen to public radio, and love it.
evilmathgenius, Jul 14 2004

       [Worldgineer] is right on. i really value PBS and NPR and have supported both through voluntary donation. i wouldn't mind a mandatory tax for both here in the u.s., but i'm sure most people would.   

       funny thing is, some of the best stuff on PBS gets bought from BBC. hope they've adjusted your tax accordingly...
xclamp, Jul 14 2004

       [emg] It just seems odd to me that you'd get a TV and spend £120 for the BBC, but not the same amount for PBS. If it's the number of channels that's your issue, in my area limited-basic cable is $12/month and comes with about 5 public commercial-free stations.   

       Sorry if it sounds like I'm trying to talk you into getting a TV. Don't. There are much more interesting things to do in this world. I'd give up mine if I wasn't addicted to a few shows.
Worldgineer, Jul 14 2004

       A few minor points, from one who was once in the TV business:
a licence is required for any equipment capable of receiving *any* terrestrial broadcast signals, not just BBC;
it is legal to use a video player and a monitor without a licence;
the TV detector vans do not work with modern equipment. They didn't even work as claimed with old equipment; the stories of operators knowing what station you were watching were just that, and most of the revenue from the vans was a result of them being parked outside schools so that little Johnny would run and tell mum to get a licence;
retailers are (and have been since licensing was introduced) obliged to provide details of all TV purchases.
I feel your pain, [britboy] (even though I work for the company that collects the licence fee), particularly when so much of the BBC's revenue is being used to make and advertise programming on cable and digital channels which require the purchase of more equipment. On balance though, I don't think that the fee is unreasonable, if only they would spend it more responsibly.
angel, Jul 14 2004

       Move to america. Tv is free here and there are more, better shows. Except Mr. Bean. He is extremely good.
DesertFox, Jul 14 2004

       Question to our British friends: Could you just hook a satellite dish to a monitor to skip the license fee? Sure you'd have to pay for satellite content, but saving £120 a year would make this more reasonable.
Worldgineer, Jul 14 2004

       DF. Mr Bean?   

       you missed Britain goes wild obviously!
po, Jul 14 2004

       In America we pay the national endowment for the arts through federal taxes. Do they fund PBS?   

       Oh, and Austin City Limits sucks Elmo's goldfish.
RayfordSteele, Jul 14 2004

       I'm in the US and I'd pay £120 to bring back Red Dwarf and Chef.
GenYus, Jul 14 2004

       //I'm in the US and I'd pay £120 to bring back Red Dwarf and Chef.//
Blimey, do those programmes seem *good* to you?

       I used to begrudge paying the license fee and, when the BBC started to emotionalise their news content (which has now degenerated into an unwatchable morass of heartstring tugging and hyperbole), I very nearly picked up my green biro and write a strongly worded letter to the Daily Mail. And then I realised that the Beeb is actually pretty good: quality radio, minority programming, fairly decent website, cushy jobs for gaelic speakers and, of course, The Mighty Boosh. Worth £120 a year easy.
calum, Jul 14 2004

       [Ray] Looking at PBS's fiscal statement (at their web page) 11% comes from Corporation for Public Broadcasting and U.S. Federal Government Grants. I don't know how much of that is from the NEA.
Worldgineer, Jul 14 2004

       I wish there were fees in the USA. We have too many couch potatos here. Maybe the fees would encourage some to give up their TVs and spend more time with their families or outside.
someone else, Jul 14 2004

       //Could you just hook a satellite dish to a monitor to skip the license fee?//
Yes. Only equipment capable of receiving terrestrial broadcast signals must be licensed.
BTW, figures just released by the BBC show that in the year to the end of March 2004, TV Licensing (the body responsible for collecting the licence fee) issued £2798m-worth of licences, £140m-worth more than in the previous year. Efficiencies in operations account for £42m of the extra revenue (the rest is due to the annual fee increase). Latest figures also show that TV Licensing has driven evasion down to an all-time low of 5.7%. (linky)
angel, Jul 15 2004

       [britboy] They had a long debate on this very topic recently, with rational arguments put on both sides in a balanced, well-informed discussion. It was on BBC2.
Basepair, Mar 10 2005

       The solution to this is simple. 1.) Open window, raise window screen. 2.) Unplug tv 3.) Build simple yet effective catapult from silverware and rubber bands. 4.) Catapult TV out of windows. 5.) Watch DVD's on your PC or better yet, don't watch tv. Hey! That rhymed... Actually, I work at a community access tv station. We are a nonprofit org contracted by the city and we are funded 1/2 by donations and 1/2 by part of the franchise fee that the cable company pays to the city - so no taxes at all go to fund our very eccentric programming. All content is created by independent producers and given to us to air by the same producers. It works quite well. Maybe British tv could try local stations funded the same way?
submitinkmonkey, Mar 10 2005

       TV Licensing really get to me. I don't want to be sent threatening letters, be told I am a criminal by every billboard, receive threats of £1000 fines and have my house invaded. I don't have a TV, and I resent the assumption that I am guilty of evasion until proven innocent.
david_scothern, Mar 11 2005

       I never understood why the bother with the old detector van/man knocking on you're door thing. If the license fee applies to all signal recieving devices, why not add it to the cost of all new TV's? Plus the current system for existing tv's?
etherman, Mar 11 2005

       [etherman]: Adding the cost of a licence to the cost of a TV would get payment only once per TV, rather than annually for any number of TVs.
angel, Mar 11 2005

       I agree with monkey. A well-played catapult or trebuchet ends the whole issue, and frees up time for reading or sports.
natewill, Mar 11 2005

       Yes angel but you also have to fill in the license form, which will secure your details and allow you to be billed the following year. These can be matched of against the retailers records and insure that licenses are paid for. At present you are given the option and the smart / unscrupulous people don't sign the form.
etherman, Mar 11 2005

       Not everybody buys a TV. A large number of people acquire them in other ways.
calum, Mar 11 2005

       I found this tax fascinating for the two years I spent in merry old England with the US Air Force. The idea of taxing for TV struck me as very odd. Especially considering the fact that all 4 channels were like watching our (US) version of PBS (Public Broadcasting System) Since there is no market value or research, you get the same eccentric programming as the subsidized pbs shows here. And what is up with running two channels in the day and two others at night? And there were commercials. I remember one specifically because it was a spoof on one of ours. Ours was advertising Calvin Cline jeans, (pants) featuring a hot young blood male walking into a laundromat and stripping off to wash what he was wearing. Yours was the same commercial but extended to include the camera panning around the room to see two Britts sitting stark naked with some reading material to hide the private bits and one looks up over the washers and remarks to his pal, "I bet he drinks Carlan Black Label." and his friend retorts, "Nah, he doesn't wash his underwear."
I808, May 09 2005

       we used to have this in new zealand, but nobody paid so a few years ago the government decided to scrap the whole thing.
try opening winamp (if you dont have it then download it from www.winamp.com) then cliking the [ML] button or press alt+L then clik internet tv, its good ,its free and it has a whole channel devoted to monty pythons flying circuis.
andrew1, May 14 2005

       Yes how would they possibly enforce a TV Tax. And why do you pay it. You can get free tv already. All you need is an antenae.
10clock, May 14 2005

       One of the problems with trying to hide your use of a CRT-based television is that the electronics that are driving the guns emit a substantial level of electromagnetic radiation. A van carrying measuring equipment can pick this radiation up and determine whether it corresponds to a broadcast station.   

       And for the record... it's a license, not a tax... just like you buy a fishing license to allow you to fish a stretch of river. I know that's not an important point, but everyone seems to be referring to it as "TV tax" and my exam-stressed nerves keep pointing it out to me.
david_scothern, May 14 2005

       The way i understand the law, here in the UK, if you own equipment capable of picking up television channels, you have to pay the licence. We don't pay the licence because we have glued over the aerial socket of our TV set and so can only use it for VHS, DVD and videogames. If we had a tuner card on the PC, we would have to pay the licence. However, a couple of weeks ago, the BBC started streaming all their content live on the internet, so it was technically possible for us to watch TV despite the fact that we had no desire to do so and had taken considerable steps to avoid doing so for legal reasons. Presumably this means that due to a unilateral decision by the BBC, we are suddenly liable to pay the licence again. If so, this is unacceptable to us. If not, how can the BBC justify their recent decision to maintain the licence fee for at least another decade when even at the beginning of that period there's a major loophole?
nineteenthly, May 14 2005

       And they call americans savage... tv licenses! AHA HAH AHAHAHAHHAAHAHA HAWFHE oighwoih 34t3.t eh.
SpocksEyebrow, May 15 2005

       [9/10ly] Clearly it's an attempt to tax the world. They won't get me though. I'm unplugging my network cable right n
Worldgineer, May 15 2005

       I think people outside the UK are exempt, and for all i know so are those of us who live here, but the point is, it doesn't make sense to have a TV licence any more.
nineteenthly, May 15 2005

       Ha! If you think that that doesn't make sense you should try looking at the govt's consultation paper on future funding options. I'd start saving up your pennies now if I were you, a PC license could be on the way in (see link to .pdf document, section 4.23 is the relevant one).
DrBob, May 16 2005

       // I'd rather pay a tax to have the ability to watch decent commercial free programmes//
So would I [emg] and I live in the UK!
gnomethang, May 16 2005

       [nineteenthly]: Reception of streamed content via the internet is not subject to a TV license, so you're safe there. However, you're *not* safe as a result of disabling the aerial socket on your TV; it still has a tuner thus is still capable of receiving broadcasts; you are, therefore, still required to have a license.
angel, May 23 2005

       [angel], i don't think this is so. I discussed my plans with the TV licencing authority and they have sent me a letter officially informing me that we do not require a licence. Also, i know someone else who did this who was visited by TV licence inspectors and they confirmed that it was OK themselves.
I would say a TV with an inaccessible aerial socket can't receive broadcasts as it would either have to be modified to do so or have extra equipment, which we do not own, connected to the SCART or video socket. If it does turn out we still have to buy one, they have a lot of explaining to do. Also, their supposedly infallible detector vans won't detect a signal because we never watch TV broadcasts.
nineteenthly, May 23 2005

       Well, that surprises me, but is obviously a victory for common sense. Well done!
Regarding the detector vans, unless they've changed quite a bit in the past few years, they wouldn't detect a signal anyway. (See my comments up there ---^)
angel, May 23 2005

       I would have no problem with the Licence if it wasn't being squandered on vast legions of middle management and their related costs such as "Management Training" courses at £5000 a pop. Did you know that the Beeb have an Art Collection? Their latest acquisition was £60,000 for a bird on the end of a pole by Tracy "Bastard" Emin.   

       On top of that they come up with such wonderful programmes as "Auntie's Bloomers" and "Celebrity Come Dancing".   

       The solution is either to surround your TV with lead sheeting, or to declare your house a sovereign state. Both options may be more expensive than paying the licence.
Jacob Marley, Oct 25 2005


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