Monday, May 31, 2004

All your £121 are belong to us

For those of you who don’t live in the UK, you may be interested in the phenomenon that is the TV License – I was truly surprised by it a year ago. Essentially, if you have a TV or receiving equipment, you are obliged to pay the government £121 per year to view the BBC channels.

Don’t watch the BBC? I’m afraid that TV Licensing doesn’t believe you. EVERYONE who owns an operational set must watch the BBC. They're compelled to. There’s something in the water.

TV Licensing ‘Enquiry Officers’ also seem to get a hoot out of slapping £1000 fines onto anyone within spitting distance. If you click on this link then go to:

Detection and Penalties > Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

– you will find a section of the site that describes some of the ‘hilarious’ situations they’ve found themselves in. I don’t know why these people think that roving around neighborhoods harassing people is like a skit from a comedy show.

I don't have a TV. My TV tuner card is gathering dust on a shelf. I have no way to receive the crud pumped out daily - I promise.

Nevertheless, this is the tone of one of the letters I have received. (May I note that it was bordered in we're-going-to-repossess-your-firstborn-red)

Here's the gist:

____________________

Dear Occupier, (These people don’t know my name, yet are willing to put me in shackles for life because of all the ‘other’ knowledge that they’ve somehow accumulated. Interesting.)

WE’VE WRITTEN TWICE TO YOU ALREADY. (No, you haven’t. While I can accept that one letter might go missing in the postal system, I can’t accept two – which means you’re lying.)

WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE! (Yes. Yes you do. That's why I'm holding the letter from you. You do not, however, know who the hell I am. Mail spamming has these kinds of drawbacks.)

WE KNOW YOU'RE DEFRAUDING THE GOVERNMENT YOU DISGUSTING TERMITE! (I....I don't have a TV....)

OUR INSPECTOR IS COMING TO YOUR ADDRESS. HE WILL HAVE A TRUNCHEON AND A BUCKET OF LUBRICANT. (errr...guys?...I really don't have a TV…)

NOT HAVING A LICENSE IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE, LIKE KILLING SOMEONE BUT MUCH WORSER (I think these guys actually watch British programming....)

FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE BORG COLLECTIVE WILL NET YOU A ONE THOUSAND POUND FINE. (Yeah, I gathered that from the ‘Big Brother is watching you, we know you don’t pay your license – you will be assimilated’ posters all over the underground, the shop windows and in the press. Thanks.)

WE HAVE VANS THAT CRUISE THE STREETS AND DETECT TV SIGNALS (Ahhh, kinda like the Death Star but without the latex uniforms?)

By the way, if you don’t have a TV, don’t worry. All you have to do is take the time out of your day to write to us and tell us and WE WILL BE IN CONTACT WITH YOU IN DUE COURSE. (OK…..why will you be in contact with me? I say I don’t have a TV, that means I don’t need a license – burden of proof is on you, buddy. Oops…sorry, forgot that for the purpose of TV license searches, courts pretty much automatically issue warrants. I guess I’ll just bend over, shall I?)

Brits give FAR too many of their rights away without a peep.

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