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BBC vans are coming for you

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Paris Hilton

I'd still like to know...

How exactly they can pinpoint which resident has or has not a T.V. licence got, when it comes to communal residences such as a block of flats?

On a related note; What about those who live on private land? Do the vans have legal permission to trespass if the residence is away from a publicly accessible road?

Finally, does being force to watch all the stupid videos on facebook count as 'on demand' ? What if you (legally) download a video and then stream it from say a plex server ?

I've never seen much in the way of clarity on these things over the years.

(on a side note, glad I've wired the house up rather than use wifi... sniff my packets will you......*grumble, grumble, get off my lawn etc. etc.*)

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Silver badge

Re: I'd still like to know...

I think TV Licensing use the Royal Mail's Multiple Residence File which is a list of all the UK delivery addresses + all the flat numbers for those delivery addresses split into flats.

If you don't want them beating a path to your front door you have to write to them to withdraw their implied right of access.

Finally I guess on demand means on demand services belonging to UK TV stations although I guess if they put stuff on YouTube it could get ambiguous.

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Re: I'd still like to know...

> How exactly they can pinpoint which resident has or has not a T.V. licence got, when it comes to communal residences such as a block of flats?

They used to have vans with big coils on the roof that were supposedly able to pick up the RF from the high-voltage used by the flyback transformer in old school CRT-type TVs, but since CRTs have long gone they can't do that any more. I read that they can sniff wifi packets to see if anyone is streaming BBC shows over wifi. my bet is that most of it is really just fearmongering to try and scare people into getting a licence.

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Re: I'd still like to know...

I was taught that TV detectors picked up the IF radiation and colour burst. However TEMPEST penetration collected stuff from the CRT display, The flyback transformer (LOPT) is used to scan not modulate so shouldn't contain information.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd still like to know...

"How exactly they can pinpoint which resident has or has not a T.V. licence got, when it comes to communal residences such as a block of flats?"

Because a person registers a TV licence to an address. Individual flats in a block each have an address. If their address is registered they have a licence if it isn't it doesn't.

"What about those who live on private land? Do the vans have legal permission to trespass if the residence is away from a publicly accessible road?"

There is an implied right of access to allow people to access your grounds so they can knock on your door or deliver letters or parcels etc. This just means that unless stated otherwise the person can cross your grounds for legal reasons under the assumption you have allowed them unless you specifically state that they are not allowed (like an opt-out box rather than an op-in). A notice at the bottom of the garden can be used to withdraw implied rights to certain or all people including TV licence 'enforcers', bailiffs etc.

"Finally, does being force to watch all the stupid videos on facebook count as 'on demand'"

This is just for BBC iPlayer use (live, on-demand or download) from their apps or website. It does not cover any other channels or any other streaming services.

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Silver badge

Re: I'd still like to know...

Its entirely fear-mongering. The vans are a fiction thought up in the 50s, when tv was still seen as a bit magical and science could do anything you could imagine. Nothing but propaganda.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd still like to know...

"can be used to withdraw implied rights to certain or all people including TV licence 'enforcers', bailiffs etc."

Bailiffs - up to a point

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/action-your-creditor-can-take/bailiffs/letting-a-bailiff-into-your-home/can-a-bailiff-force-entry-into-your-home/

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Bronze badge

Re: I'd still like to know...

Implied right of access does not grant people the right to peer through my curtains spying on what I'm doing, intercept my snail mail, route through my bins, or trying to hack my wifi.

As well you know.

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Re: I'd still like to know...

The vans are all smoke and mirrors. Whilst it could be possible to detect the signals generated by CRT TV's back in the day, flat panels are a whole different ball game, plus a 1920x1080 monitor would generate signals just like a 1080P TV.

The "detector" van works from a database.

Property used to have licence, didn't renew it = Knock on door.

Property just bought a new TV and don't have a licence (you did know that retailers take your address to log the sale of a TV didn't you?) = Knock on door.

To a lesser extent Antenna on roof and no licence = Knock on door.

I'm sure they make a continual pain of themselves round any new development as the new addresses appear on the database.

Whether the snoopers charter will extend to allow the BBC to demand names and addresses of people accessing their streams is something I'm sure we'll find out very soon.

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Anonymous Coward

66% discount

B&W license for non-existant telly and use Internet.

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Re: 66% discount

Ah, but does your 'puter have to have a b&w monitor?

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Silver badge

Re: 66% discount

No. Been on a bw license for years as my lass has no colour vision and the license is in her name.

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Silver badge

Re: 66% discount

So called "colour blind" is different perception. Only people practically blind, who would be registered blind have monochrome vision. Read up on Rods and Cones.

I'm baffled why they have a separate monochrome licence at all actually, many countries don't.

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TRT
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Re: 66% discount

Curious. A lack of colour vision? I know someone who would love to have a poke around in her head with an fMRI scanner.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 66% discount

Paranoid Android!

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Bronze badge

Re: 66% discount

Achromatopsia is a completely different condition from being 'practically blind'.

Their vision, albeit being completely monochrome, is much more sensitive to light than in trichromatic, anomalously trichromatic, or dichromatic individuals.

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Re: 66% discount

Quite often it's black and white under "daylight" conditions, but with limited colour perception under low light. There was a documentary a few years back looking at colour perception and language (it's quite amazing how language affects our perception of colour). In the documentary they had a woman who sees in black and white, but at dusk and dawn sees colour.

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Anonymous Coward

Proposed law: All game show sets must look like "Ask the Family" circa 1975

"B&W license for non-existant telly and use Internet."

Is that technically legal?

Surely it only applies if you're browsing the Internet on a computer or tablet with no colour support? ;-) Quick- dig out that Hercules graphics card!

FWIW, having seen the various quiz shows that my parents watch, I'm starting to think that black and white- or at least a black-and-white-on/off button- would be a rather good idea. Is there some law which states that *all* game and quiz shows nowadays have to use garishly over-the-top lighting in 110% saturated primary colours against dark backgrounds? Uuuurgh, just bloody stop it.

Can one sue ITV for prematurely burning out the colour receptors in their eyes?

Makes me almost nostalgic for the days of bland beige sets. Or maybe not.

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Silver badge

Re: 66% discount

Two words:

Adam Ant!!!

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MJI
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Re: 66% discount

Adamant?

From Twyfords

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Anonymous Coward

Well played BBC, all those homes and people that stated they watch on demand TV services will now have to purchase a licence where previously they did not. I was asked that very question 2 years ago when I moved house.

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No they won't - just iPlayer. And presumably just iPlayer TV. I've not seen anything that mentions radio, and seeing as radio iPlayer counts as digital listening figures I doubt they will want to drive people off that platform and dilute the case for turning off FM.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry my mistake I meant catch up tv on Iplayer. I was asked and told at the time it was ok to watch catch-up (non-live) without a licence and they explicitly confirmed if you viewed such material. I bought a licence anyway so it didn't apply. I don't actually mind paying for the licence though if the content goes even more downhill I will cancel it.

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Good at Collecting, No Good on Refunds

I am still waiting for my £100 refund after chopping in the licence when the telly went tits up.

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Anonymous Coward

> No they won't - just iPlayer. And presumably just iPlayer TV

...and not all iPlayer TV. S4C content is not covered by this change, so it's basically unenforceable from a technical standpoint.

Radio is indeed exempted, you do not need a licence to listen to the radio on the iPlayer. Or a set-top box, but that one is going to be pretty hard to defend.

All this really means is that TLV's monkeys will start to claim that "the law has changed luv, you need a licence for that laptop" in an attempt to trick or scare people into paying for something they don't need.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Regressive tax

Regardless of your view of the BBC, as a national treasure or a state goliath destroying the free market for media, can we at least agree that it disproportionately costs the poor while benefitting the rich?

If I buy a TV (as a large screen monitor) in order to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, why do I have to tell some spotty oik in Currys my address? Why does some public employee then use that address to check if I have a BBC license (let's not call it a TV license, eh?) and send me threatening letters non-stop and then try to use legally dubious tactics to access my property to see if I'm 'stealing' the BBC?

And, while I"m on a rant, why do BBC radio listeners get a free ride? Those free-loading pirates living it large off the back of artists and TV watchers. Seen from afar one could call this class warfare where the poor pay for the rich...

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Silver badge

Re: Regressive tax

costs the poor while benefitting the rich

Just like the National Lottery, then. Or VAT on "luxury" food and adult clothing. Or underinvestment in public transport. Or failing to build sufficient houses. None of which seem to raise the same level of indignation.

Because the people who argue loudest on behalf of the overtaxed "poor" are usually the undertaxed "rich" who want to pay less themselves but appear virtuous at the same time.

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Re: Regressive tax

Radio is free since the costs associated with are so much lower than the costs associated with TV.

There used to be a radio licence, but the cost would be so low, and it would be relevant to so few people that it's just not worth it.

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Silver badge

Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

Because it's the law. The government decided.

Here you in Ireland you don't, though they want to introduce it, including

It's NOT a BBC Licence, they just happen to get most (but not all) the revenue. In the old BPO days when the Posts & Telegraph folk controlled everything, the BBC only got 2/3rds. It's a Television receiving apparatus licence. There used to be a loop hole where if you lived some place with no TV signals except foreign satellite (before BSB), you could get an exemption.

In the 1980s my company removed tuners from TVs so they could be sold as monitors not requiring a licence, for home computers etc, though one licence covers a household.

I think S4C gets some of the money. Does C4 get any?

A similar arrangement exists in many countries, though often part of the money is set aside for locally made TV for any local channel.

People are paying £300 to £600 a year for pay TV and then watching 92% free content on it, yet complain about the TV licence? Baffling.

Governments can tax whatever they like.

You should see what percentage of Road Tax and Fuel tax goes on roads. Tolls and Road Tax are totally stupid taxes. Simply taxing fuel would be more efficient, fairer and save consumer money for same revenue raised.

Lots of taxes make no sense. Like Corporation tax. Tax the actual human beneficiaries.

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Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

"It's a Television receiving apparatus licence"

No its not. If you don't watch broadcast TV you don't a license, regardless of how many receivers you have.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regressive tax

You give your real name and address ?

Last one I gave was Cameron Osborne @ SW1A 2AA, the spotty kid took a minute to realise what the address was and he was not getting my real details. Also a London postcode when purchasing in Cornwall or Devon.

Or giving them there own name(thanks name badges) + store name (Scott PCWorld / Argos) and store postcode stumps them.

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Silver badge

Re: Regressive tax

If I buy a TV (as a large screen monitor) in order to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, why do I have to tell some spotty oik in Currys my address?

1060 West Addison

(ok, admittedly should be adapted to something more local as opposed to an address across the pond...)

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Re: Regressive tax

And, while I"m on a rant, why do BBC radio listeners get a free ride? Those free-loading pirates living it large off the back of artists and TV watchers. Seen from afar one could call this class warfare where the poor pay for the rich...

Fuck off.

Leave us radio bods alone. I'm currently in Zurich and I can happily listen to Radio 4 whenever I want. I don't watch TV and try not to use their (progressively shitty) news website. But I do like Radio 4.

So shut the fuck up and don't let anyone know you can legally do this for free. Otherwise the cunts will try to stop it.

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Re: Regressive tax

"The poor pay for the rich"?

Um, could you explain how the license fee discrimates again large families, even multigenerational ones sharing a home and paying one single license fee?

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Silver badge

Re: Regressive tax

I really wish there was a BBC radio license, along the same lines as the NPR subscription on the US of A.

Why?

Because it would give us listeners a financial handle on the way radio programs are commissioned and produced and it would give BBC Radio some leverage against the TV juggernaut. It might even get the quality of Radio 4 drama and Radio 3 music production somewhat nearer the standard it reached in the '80s.

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Pint

Re: Regressive tax

RegGuy1 "F..." Agree.

Related speculation...

Most broadcast TV ends up, somehow, being streamed to the 'net. Without permission.

I expect that activity to become a tsunami over the next decade.

Every broadcast TV channel on Earth, available from 'somebody' over the 'net.

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Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

I believe it was a licence to operate a television receiver.

Although I've never heard of anyone having their license revoked for watching bad telly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regressive tax

Peter Griffin? Is that you??

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Silver badge

Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

It's a licence to receive live television broadcasts, which is why iplayer live is covered by it, but using the tv to watch dvds isn't.

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Silver badge

Re: Regressive tax

If I buy a TV (as a large screen monitor) in order to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, why do I have to tell some spotty oik in Currys my address?

You don't. At least, you are not legally required to. The law changed in 2013. Although this may still be news to some branches of Curry's.

My Mum moved into a care home earlier this year. I bought a small TV for her room - from Curry's - and I certainly wasn't asked for an address, because I know I would have had to think what address to give. That reminds me, must change the address for her current licence.

I suspect that nowadays they just assume that every address has a TV, until proven otherwise. Guilty until proven innocent!

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Silver badge

Re: Regressive tax

Not at all like the national lottery. If I wanted to gamble in the casino but I had to pay a lottery tax to do so (to fund athletes and the opera and other nonsense) then it would be the same. The fact is that in order to watch advertiser funded live broadcasts, even online, I have to pay for the behemoth BBC.

If you want my opinion on other regressive taxes, or ones where they ostensibly take money for A but spend it on B then wait until there's an article about those but this one happens to be about the BBC.

The majority of people who don't like paying so much to the BBC are those who get little out of it and aren't won over by the same patriotic bullshit that makes people in the UK proud of the also Jimmy Saville-enabling NHS.

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Re: Regressive tax

I saw a survey recently, that said 100% of people thought other people should pay more tax.

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Re: Regressive tax

Retailers are no longer obliged to inform TVLA of any of your purchases, full details somewhere on this informative site.

I used to watch one programme on iPlayer, once a week, but TBH never really understood why it was legal. If I recall correctly, the original strategy of the BBC was to try to extend its bandwidth grab under the Blair administration to include the internet but the only reference to those intentions I ban find is a 2009 FOI request (so we should remain grateful for small mercies...)

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Re: Regressive tax

1060 West Addison

(ok, admittedly should be adapted to something more local as opposed to an address across the pond...)

1060 West Addison? That's Wrigley Field!

Kudos for the Blues Brothers reference.

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Happy

Re: why do I have to tell ... my address?

What is a TV Licence needed for?

To use and install TV receiving equipment at the licensed place. It covers:

a) watching and recording programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, including programmes streamed over the internet and satellite programmes from outside the UK, and

b) watching and downloading BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

This can be on any device, including TVs, desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, games consoles, digital boxes, DVD, Blu-ray and VHS recorders, or anything else.

So "BBC programmes" not just BBC TV it is the programming they cover not the equipment as it was years ago. Move forward young man!

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Anonymous Coward

Legal Question..

So it's to my understanding there are a number of UK Linux users who use "get_iplayer" and also a number of users who use plugins such as "iPlayer WWW" for Kodi.

These are unofficial third party tools to allow a user to download/stream content from iPlayer website without having to actually visit the website.

Often the BBC attempts to block or prevent these services in claims it may be used for "Piracy" or such.

So now if someone owns this new license part of that license now declares they have the right to stream/download from iPlayer correct?

So if the BBC in the future attempt to block such third party tools from working for license holders what would the legality be? Wouldn't that now be forcefully preventing a paying customer from using their service/device? What's the legality on that?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Legal Question..

Dubious. I would guess the licence doesn't grant you the right to receive the "signal" in any way you demand (primarily because of the piracy claims you mention).

An exaggerated example, but in the same way you can't demand the Beeb posts you a copy of each Eastenders on betamax :-)

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Silver badge

Re: Legal Question..

Get Iplayer aint just for linux, its available for windows and works bloody well!!!

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Re: Legal Question..

<i<"Get Iplayer aint just for linux, its available for windows and works bloody well!!!</i"

Shhhh!!!!

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I gues it's only fair

Although there are a few things I feel are not done right.

The rule should have also been changed to allow all non BBC live TV channel to be streamed without a licence. (And eventually, ideally, the same for broadcast TV).

The player apps should require TV licence credentials for all content that requires it.

There should be a cheap option for those who feel the full price is too much. (Netflix and Amazon are both much cheaper.) Repurposing the Black and White licence for this perhaps? (perhaps, monochrome live feed, SD catchup with low limits on number of programs that can be kept for offline viewing at once and number of active devices.)

I have never had a colour TV licence. I used to have black and white until the change from the post office made it to tricky to purchase one. (I tried several times from the little corner shops.) And I realised that I would have zero need of one for the next few months (having only needed it for about 6 hours the previous year), so I decided to pack away the mono TV and wait to try again until I would need it.

However I got enough offensive letters from the licensing authority (implying I was a criminal, not asking politely, had that been the case I would have replied) that I gave away the TV and just watched catchup (and videos).

It was very kind of the BBC to allow this until now, but there is not enough I want to watch that will justify the price, so I shall delete the app from the final bit of kit today.

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