If I may offer you a little vignette from SE1 this lunchtime.
Visitor: This is my identification card
M: Sorry I'm not interested [assumed in buying dodgy goods from door to door salesman]
V: No I is from TV licencing
M: No thank you
V: It is a legal requirement for you to have a TV licence
M: No it is not
V: [gobsmacked silence]
M: [thinking quicklyish] Did you just say that it is a legal requirement for me to have a TV licence?
M: No it is not, goodbye. [And shuts door]
2 minutes later I chase him down the road, get his name and get him to sign a piece of paper that confirms he told me that it was a legal requirement to have a licence.
Now, dear reader, what do you suggest? Letter to BBC complaining about menaces; letter to MP complaining about menaces, cc to Boris Johnson & the Daily Telegraph Free country campaign.
Well done! I let one in several years ago when living at the Elephant, he was so surprised as I dragged him in and insisted that he see my TV-free lounge, that he missed the TV, which I had cunningly forgotten to hide properly, as he waltzed passed it twice in the hallway.
I know that the TV licence fee is a tricky one as not everyone believes that the BBC deserves that rather large pot of money.
Having worked for them in the past, the BBC produces some great television, albeit 40%+ commissioned to independent production co's. As an employer, they can be like a civil service dept and tend to pay lower rates for staff, however this is counteracted by longer and more stable contracts.
As a huge employer in an industry that generates millions of pounds, the BBC is a valuable asset. It's a shame that it tries to imitate the likes of ITV and Channel 4 at times (Fame Academy, relocation progs, CD:UK)
I think that commissioning extra episodes of existing series (EastEnders, Holby City, Casualty - the latter two now run about 48 weeks a year each) shows lack of imagination. With the review of the licence fee approaching, the BBC is trying to cover its back in all areas, making popular and also original and diverse programmes.
Whether you like the BBC's output or not, you should pay the licence fee if you have a TV set. If you disagree, make your views known to the Gov't (and believe me, they will want to know) but not buying a licence will end you up with a huge fine. Like parking tickets, we never think that they are fair, but then we shouldn't park illegally. I don't have kids, but I don't stop paying my taxes just because they go towards educating other people's children.
I thought the law was that you have to have the TV on to be in breach. Having one is OK as long as you don't turn it on.
I read somewhere about the excuses some people made after allowing an inspector to come in. One woman said the reason the TV was warm was because she had just taken the roast out of the oven and placed it on top of the TV.
Also, you can't be jailed for not having a licence, only for not paying any fines incurred.
If you want to avoid paying for a licence, just buy 20 quids worth of TV stamps and if you're caught just show them and say you were going to buy the licence the nexy payday. They won't prosecute as it costs more to take you to court than they'd receive in fines.
You have to have a licence, whether you have it on or not. If you have a VCR or software on your computer which enables you to receive television transmisions you also have to have a licence. I believe the licence is for equipment capable of receiving television transmisions. I am, of course wherever the law is concerned willing to be proved wrong.