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19th Apr 2024

BBC uses ‘covert tactics’ to catch people who don’t pay licence fee

Charlie Herbert

bbc license fee

The BBC has used “covert surveillance” methods to try and catch people who are avoiding paying the licence fee.

The licence fee has often been a fierce source of debate. By law, if you watch any live TV, you have to pay up.

Additionally, if you watch or stream live programming on any online TV streaming service, such as BBC iPlayer or Sky Go, you should be paying for your licence.

For the last two years the fee has been frozen at £159 a year, but this month it rose to £169.50.

If you don’t pay the fee, you could potentially land yourself in court and being forced to pay a £1,000 fine, on top of court costs.

Whilst many see the licence as pretty good value for money – it will be just over £14 a month after the price rise – some aren’t so sure and are opposed to paying the fee.

Now, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that the BBC uses surveillance techniques to try and catch those not paying their TV licence.

This includes the use of “covert vehicles” with “detection equipment” to see if you are watching television in a property that isn’t paying the licence fee.

Contractor Capita carries out the surveillance, which are signed off by senior BBC managers.

IPCO said: “The success rate is limited, with only a small number of deployments resulting in further enforcement action, such as the execution of a search warrant.

“This could be due to the limitations of the detection equipment, which is apparently struggling to keep up with the technological advancements in television viewing.”

A spokesperson for TV Licensing told the Sun: “TV Licensing has a duty to collect the licence fee from anyone who requires one and prosecution is always a last resort.

“Detection vans are one of a number of approaches in our enforcement of the law and we always write to customers before visiting a property to ensure customers have ample opportunity to obtain a licence.”

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