Welcome to TV Licensing 

16 June 2004 tbs.pm/588

TV Licensing website

To the young, hip things, there’s nothing more ludicrous than paying a licence in order to watch television.

Thatcher’s children (for it is she) have been brainwashed into the idea that broadcasting is free, and can be best paid for by it attempting to flog us crap.

That a broadcaster would, QED, see the crap-merchant as the customer rather than the viewer, and that the slow decline of UK television would suddenly hurtle to US-style oblivion without the BBC is not only lost on them, it’s truly an alien idea. (If the BBC wasn’t, just, showing the high water mark, where would ITV, C4 and [shudder] C5 be now?)

They’ll learn – but unfortunately only after the rest of us have had our broadcasting utterly, utterly ruined by these McPersons.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the truly stupid via the badly-designed TV Licencing website, with its page of “excuses, excuses excuses”.

Of course, once the truly stupid have had their way, we’ll all be in their boat, won’t we?

Until then, reprinted because the existing site is unreadable and breaks the Disability Discrimination Act as well as common decency, enjoy some new urban legends:

Our enquiry officers have heard them all. A lot of the time, it’s the same old story. Sometimes, it’s the kind of story they feel they have to share.

The Red light – Destroyer of Damp

A woman claimed to the enquiry officer that she did not have a TV, even though he could see one behind her in the corner of the room. When he asked her about it she exclaimed, “Oh, that one?it’s broken”. He told her that there was a red light on at the bottom. She replied “Oh, that wee red light, I just keep that on as it keeps the damp from getting into it”.

Bang the Television

A woman in a village claimed she only had a black and white television but when the enquiry officer asked if he could see it she quickly told him that there must be something wrong with it because if she hit it, it would sometimes come on in colour. She allowed him into her living room and proceeded to hit the television before switching it on. Sure enough, the television came on in colour. “there you are” she said, “see what I mean, there’s something wrong with it”.

Sky or SKY

When interviewing a woman in London, an enquiry officer asked during the conversation if she had Sky. “Yes”, she replied. He proceeded to ask her what channels she watched on Sky and she answered, “I haven’t got Sky”. A little confused, the enquiry officer reminded her that she had just told him that she had Sky. “Yes, that’s right, she’s in the pram.” She replied, pointing to her daughter.

Christmas Lights

An enquiry officer visited an address one evening where the curtains were open and a television set could be seen clearly – in use – in the lounge. When the occupier came to the door, he strongly denied having a set, saying that the enquiry officer had mistaken his Christmas tree light for a TV. The enquiry officer asked to go in and have a look, but was denied entry while the curtains were quickly closed. He went back to his car nearby to write out his report. A couple of minutes later he was surprised to see the husband and wife come out of the house carrying the TV. They put the set into the boot of the car and drove off.

The Vicious Tomcat

A young woman said that she didn’t have a television and the enquiry officers asked if they could check. The woman said it was safe only as far as the hallway, as she would have to remove her cat, which was hostile and vicious towards strangers. The officers said that they would take a chance, but the lady insisted that it would be too dangerous, so the officers were left in the hall whilst she disappeared into the lounge. At that moment a ginger tomcat appeared from the kitchen. The officers stood rooted to the spot as this feline meowed and purred towards them, and then started to stroke itself against their legs. At the same time, the movement of furniture could be heard from the lounge, only to be interrupted by the occasional call of “come here Tilly you naughty cat” and “I won’t be a minute, I’ve nearly caught him”. The officers by this time had picked the cat up and were playing with it. One of them called through the door “What colour is the cat?” The lady replied “Ginger, with a red collar”. The description perfectly matched that of the cat in the hall. A minute later the lady appeared saying that it was OK to enter, so the officer returned the cat to her, and retrieved the television set from the balcony.

The Sick Cat

The woman claimed that the reason for her not having a licence was because her cat had got sick down the back of the set and blew it up.

I Don’t Live Here

Most enquiry officers come across the excuse “I don’t live here”. It’s surprising how many are men dressed only in boxer shorts with nothing on their feet and have “just popped round to feed the dog”.

The Wife

But the most common reaction from men confronted by TV Licensing enquiry officers is: “Oh, I thought my wife was dealing with it.”

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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