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January 2007

It is one year since I became unlicensed. TVL/BBC has reverted to window messages.

TVL window envelope

The letter commences with "TV Licensing Officers will soon be visiting..." - at which point my street is inserted. The letter has red stripes down the sides, presumably to convince me that they really mean it this time.

TV Licensing Officers will soon be visiting

February 2007

A few surprises this month. First of all, my name has reappeared alongside the "Present Occupier". Second, the letter is sent recorded delivery.

The present occupier

The advice given on this website is never to sign for TVL/BBC letters. However, on this occasion, I sign using a suitably ambiguous squiggle. I must know what is inside the envelope.

TV Licensing Enforcement Officers are visiting

In view of the fact that I have not contacted TVL/BBC in over a year, I wonder whether their retaining of my name is a breach of the Data Protection Act.

Inspection of the letter suggests that I am on a new cycle. Note that the previous letter (January 2007) says, "TV Licensing Officers will soon be visiting..." This new letter omits the word 'soon' and says "TV Licensing Officers are visiting..." So, a visit is imminent; the third line reinforces this by saying that officers are "about to call".

The envelope contains a further surprise: a postal application form and a pre-paid return envelope. The application form is a little odd; it says, "To be completed by everyone", yet only includes enough space for one:

TV Licence application form

On the right hand side, the form asks for a mobile phone number; is this simply so they can contact people when they are out, or is it because there is some way of linking phone numbers to mobiles that can receive TV pictures?

For the sake of completeness, here is the pre-paid envelope:

TVL pre-paid envelope

So, things are hotting up again; a letter sent by recorded delivery, a looming visit by enforcement officers, and a last chance in the form of a pre-paid envelope. Can I hold out another month, or will I crack under the pressure?

March 2007

This month's envelope is shaped longways. My name has dropped off and I am "the occupier". The below scans are near to actual size:

BBC television licence

Inside is a leaflet; here is the front and back, folded out:

tv Licensing leaflet

My first assumption is that this leaflet ends the cycle of the previous two letters. However, on closer examination, the leaflet appears to be a subdued continuation; it says "...this address was passed on to our Enforcement Division for investigation". Below is the inside of the leaflet.

TV licence leaflet

The third bullet point describes the length of time I have been unlicensed as "protracted". This means longer than ought to be. Since there is no legal obligation to have a TV licence, let alone watch the BBC, what right does the BBC have to use this word? It infers that I am doing something wrong by not having a TV licence, and that the longer I do not have it, the more guilty I become.

April 2007

TV licensing

There is no indication on the front of the envelope that it is from TVL/BBC, so I am very likely at the beginning of a new cycle. For some reason, the top left-hand corner of the envelope is printed black.

Warning against unlawful action

I've noticed that TVL/BBC sends out letters at exactly the same point each month, with the result that I was able to predict the date of this delivery.

In the top left of this letter, TVL/BBC makes a point of telling me that I have been allocated an "Unlicensed Property Number", as though that should interest me.

I see that the licence fee has increased to £135.50, which means I am saving even more money.

April continued

While using my Hotmail, the TVL/BBC logo appeared in the corner of the screen. After a couple of moments, it changed to "Buy your licence here", and then, "Our database has every UK address too". It then went back to the TVL/BBC logo and started the sequence again. Here are screen shots:

Only the first two flashes are necessary for the purposes of enabling people to renew their licences; the third is included to harrass. The message it seeks to convey is, "We are spying on you" but, like all of TVL/BBC's assertions, it is an empty threat.

May 2007

The envelope displays a warning: "Notification of impending action". It does not display the TVL logo.

bbc harassment

The impending action referred to on the envelope is a "full investigation". I am not sure as to the difference between an investigation and a "full investigation". Similarly, I am not sure as to the distinction between a warning and an "official warning", or an occupier and a "legal occupier". Enclosed with the letter is the following leaflet:

television licence

The second and third bullet points contradict each another; if a prosecution statement need be taken for legal action, as indicated in the second point, then it is necessary only to refuse such a statement to prevent legal action, thereby contradicting the third point.

June 2007

The envelope is the same type as last month, but with a different message: "Important information enclosed".

TV licensing

The letter appears to be a final reminder: "Payment due immediately". But check the small print: "Applies to unlicensed households watching a colour TV". Even this is inaccurate; it should say, "Applies to unlicensed households watching broadcasts on a colour TV"

July 2007

The same style envelope as I received in April, with the curious black triangle in the top left corner.

TV licencing

The letter is addressed to me by name, but the last sentence starts, "If you are not the individual named above..." This means they do not know who lives at my address.

This letter is virtually the same as that of October 2006; is TVL/BBC running out of ideas?

August 2007

Regarding the mysterious black triangle in the top left corner of the envelope, a visitor to this site suggests that its purpose is to enable the envelopes to be checked to ensure that they are all the same way up. This enables automatic processing of the postage paid on each envelope.

TV license

This letter is the same as that received in November 2006, so I appear to have looped back onto an earlier cycle. Does this mean that the next letter will be that of December 2006, entitled "Urgent Message from TV Licensing"?

September 2007

This style of envelope has been used three months in a row; is TVL/BBC making cutbacks?

TV licence

This is not the letter that I had been expecting; it is the version of five months ago (see April 2007), suggesting that letter types do not always form the same repetitive sequence.

An interesting difference is that this month's letter does not include the April 2007 footnote explaining the difference between English and Scottish law. Perhaps, previously, TVL/BBC used the same mailing on both sides of the border, but now send different letters, thereby removing the need to clarify the legal difference.

October 2007

TV Licensing

Back to the manilla envelopes, which have no black triangles.

TV Licence Official Warning

This is the same letter as May 2007. I am mildly disappointed that TVL/BBC is not trying new formats. Enclosed is the same accompanying leaflet. This time, I show the reverse:

November 2007

The familiar 9 by 4 white envelope.

TV Licence Official Warning

This is almost the same letter as July 2007. The reference to Scottish law has been reintroduced, but is in the body of the letter, rather than a footnote.

December 2007

TV Licence Official Warning

The fourth paragraph says that the enforcement division catches 61,930 every year; yet, the August 2007 letter says the enforcement division catches 65,823 people every year. How can two letters issued in the same year (and only four months apart) give different figures?

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