By Daniel J. McLaughlin
“The only way I can afford to pay for my TV Licence is if I sell my hamster, is that what you want me to do?”
People will say anything to get out of paying their TV Licence. Among the creative excuses, one person admitted that they stole their TV, so why should they pay for a licence; another reasoned that because they own a Corgi, the favoured species of dog owned by the Queen, they didn't think it was necessary to own a TV Licence.
The Queen does not have to pay her licence fee, but other members of the Royal Family do.
However, they may not be laughing as licence fee dodgers could face a maximum fine of £1,000 plus any other legal costs and/or compensation.
Under the Communications Act 2003, it is illegal to watch or record programmes as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service.
The TV Licence is a tax collected by the BBC to fund their TV, radio and online output.
Currently, the licence fee costs £150.50 (or £50.50 for a black and white television set). The licence fee is provided for free to over 75s by the Government. There are still 7,000 UK households watching television through black and white sets more than 50 years after the advent of colour programming, the Guardian reports. The highest number of people watching black and white TV is in London (1,768), followed by the West Midlands (431) and Greater Manchester (390).
As long as you do not watch or record live TV, you do not need a licence. The Plymouth Herald lists the services you can use on your TV without paying the licence fee:
On demand – including catch-up TV and on demand previews – through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV , Apple TV , Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies from providers like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes either from a disc (e.g. DVD or Blu-ray) or downloaded from the internet
On demand internet video clips through services like YouTube
Over £3.8 billion was collected from licence fees between 2017 and 2018, making up 75.7 per cent of the BBC's total income. The government provided £655.3 million - or 17.1 per cent - for those over the age of 75.
Hamsters, corgis and indeed illegally obtained television sets do not make you immune from the TV Licence. The creativity should be kept for the programmes on the box, and not the excuses for failing to cough up.