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There has never been a better time to cancel your BBC TV Licence. But time may be running out for you to make a lawful protest against the tyranny of the BBC TV Licence fee tax…

With every new scandal, twist and turn of the state broadcaster comes further evidence that this organisation is corrupt, wasteful and does not serve the interests of those who pay for it. The most recent controversy was the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson after a bizarrely described ‘fracas’ between himself and an assistant producer. Over ONE MILLION people signed the @GuidoFawkes #BringBackClarkson petition to reinstate Clarkson.

For the record I did not sign this petition. I simply do not see a role for a state propaganda machine in 2015 or beyond. Certainly I do not support that you should hand over your hard earned money on threat of prison for state permission to watch mainstream entertainment on a dying technological medium.

One thing is absolutely clear from the Clarkson sacking fiasco: the viewer is way down the pecking order as far as the BBC top brass is concerned. Top Gear was immediately pulled from the schedules on news of the ‘fracas’. This was well before any formal finding was made against Clarkson which shows the contempt the BBC Top Brass had for the fans.

I of course recognise that the BBC Top Gear show with Clarkson as the lead host was immensely popular with its fans. I read many responses on twitter that questioned ‘Why am I paying a licence fee if Top Gear is taken off the air’. Unfortunately, the TV Licence does not operate as a subscription service much as BBC would like you to think it does. Even if the BBC did not exist unless the TV Licence legislation was repealed, you would still have to pay the TV Licence fee to watch or record ANY live TV. As such, the TV Licence operates as a TAX. As a tax, the TV Licence is not a payment for any BBC service.

Quite simply, the TV Licence has survived at least half a century beyond its use-by date. There is no technological reason for it to exist today and it is merely an accident of history that it remains. So if you want to make the best protest you can against the BBC, the only way to do it is to STOP FUNDING THEM. You can do this legally and it takes only minutes to sort out.

There are several strategies that the legally licence free community recommend. Firstly I advocate you to stay within the law at all times. There is as yet no reason for anyone to break the law to protest against the BBC licence fee. All that is involved is some minor inconvenience of only watching catch-up tv services after they have been broadcast on TV.

There are the three simple rules to ensure you stay within the law and that the BBC’s TV Licensing arm cannot bring a successful action against you in court:
Rule 1. Detune your TVs and disconnect any aerials or satellite feeds and cut or tape up the ends. (This is to satisfy the requirement that TV Receivers must not be installed)
Rule 2. DO NOT watch or record ANY LIVE TV on ANY device for ANY reason. (You may watch Catch-Up TV services after they have been shown on TV)
Rule 3. At all times NEVER ADMIT to any TV Licensing representative that you have watched or recorded ANY LIVE TV on ANY device for ANY reason. Also NEVER ADMIT TO WATCHING ANY INTERNET STREAMING BROADCAST as it is also shown on TV. This can be SKY NEWS or AL-JAZZERRA originally beamed from Doha. Note this is not restricted to just BBC as some mistakenly believe. Only ever say you watch DVD’s/Netflix etc and Catch-Up TV only.

Mindful of the above rules your next steps are:
1. You must, absolutely must, CANCEL any TV licence you have. TV Licensing (aka Capita) assume (wrongly) you still need one if you don’t inform them you are cancelling your TV Licence. You can do this by email to support@tvlicensing.co.uk (Note they take a long time to respond: up to a week. Recent reports are as many as 1000 people a day are cancelling TV Licences. Be patient and do not pre-empt additional unnecessary communication with the Capita contractor).
2. Cancel any direct debits you have to TV Licensing.
3. Optionally you can declare a “No Licence Needed”. Ideally you should have no further contact with any TV Licensing representative (Capita). The link to the “No Licence Needed” declaration is here.

There are some further pointers to observe to ensure you stay safe from prosecution:
1. TV Licensing have no right of access to your property whatsoever except by a search warrant.
2. There is no legal obligation for you to have contact with them or provide them with any information except under a search warrant to provide ‘reasonable assistance’ to enable them to do their test of any TV receiving equipment found.
3. Most importantly: Get yourself informed. A thoughtful, reasoned stand against the BBC does take a bit of effort. Take the time to understand TV Licensing law. Here are some excellent blogs run by well informed people I thoroughly recommend:

TV Licensing Blog
TV Licensing Resistance
TV Licensing Watch
TV Licence Free

The sad truth is TV Licensing is run as a high-pressure commission-based sales operation. It is a dirty business. Invariably, TV Licensing only convict on evidence you provide by way of an admission. Unless the TV is visibly on in the front room, there is no reason for you to provide them with any evidence against yourself whatsoever. Oh, the ‘TV detector’ is a crock: It has NEVER been used as evidence for any court conviction of watching live TV. It is only used to gather ‘evidence’ for a search warrant and even that is done on the shakiest of scientific basis.

A word of warning. In looking around the Internet you may come across “Freeman of The Land” (FMOTL) type arguments. They all boil down to essentially a concept of individual choice, contract, consent and a misunderstanding of common law. While I have sympathy with such purist thinking, FMOTL arguments only make for impressive YouTube videos. They absolutely DO NOT WORK at your local friendly Magistrates Courts or indeed in any court up to and including the Supreme Court. Parliament made law is accepted by all courts in the UK. Sorry about that.

I said at the outset that time for you to make a lawful protest against the BBC was running out. Indeed it is. The influential Department of Culture Media and Sport Select Commitee’s preferred future funding model for the BBC is to introduce a flat household poll tax to be added to everyone’s council tax regardless of whether they watch any BBC service or TV or radio at all. If this was introduced, there would be virtually NO escape from paying this charge. The enormity of this proposal is truly staggering given the litany of scandal that has come out about the BBC. But for right now the choice is still yours. Take back your choice and your money. There has never been a better time to cancel your TV Licence. Do it today!

Originally written for the @backbencher 25th March 2015 – Revised 17th May 2015