If we hadn’t already been sure, this would have sealed it.
Because we all know what really happened in George Square last night.
We watched it on live video feeds from the state broadcasters of other countries, ones we’ve been taught to regard as less truthful than our own. We saw it on pictures and Vines and video clips sent by people who were actually there. We know.
But we don’t know about it from the BBC. The BBC’s story was for many hours tucked away halfway down a piece about Alex Salmond resigning. Eventually it got a page of its own where it was portrayed as a clash between rival groups, rather than what it was – a mob of thugs attacking people who’d been peacefully and happily assembled in the square for days, with not a single disturbance or arrest.
The Unionist gangs roamed the streets for hours, intimidating anyone they suspected of being different from them – gay people, coloured people, anyone who might have voted Yes. Mounted police with helicopters blocked streets to prevent them from spreading. Yet the BBC played it down and lumped the peaceful Yes supporters with half of the blame.
For the past three years we’ve highlighted individual failings but avoided claiming any more widespread, systematic abuse of the Corporation’s legally-mandated obligation of impartiality and balance. That position is no longer sustainable.
As such we’ve reluctantly concluded that the time has come for advocates of Scottish independence to withdraw their funding from an organisation which has over that time, and especially in the last month or so, simply abandoned any pretence of fairness and actively sought to influence the referendum in one direction.
Despite the name, it is not obligatory to possess a TV licence in the UK if you own a television, nor even for watching BBC programming. A licence is only needed to watch programmes live, or recorded as live. (So you DO need a licence to record something on a Sky+ box or similar and then watch it later.) The BBC iPlayer website notes that a licence is NOT necessary for watching shows on the catch-up service.
Most people now own a device capable of accessing iPlayer or similar catch-up services. Desktop computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and “smart” TVs can all use them. (You do NOT need a TV licence to watch iPlayer on your television if you’re only using the catch-up service rather than watching live.) For live news or sport, radio broadcasts do NOT require a TV licence, even if they’re BBC ones.
The TV Licensing enforcement department uses menacing language, advertisements and action to frighten people into believing TV licenses are required in circumstances where in fact they’re not, and to gain entry to people’s homes to intimidate them with threats of prosecution, heavy fines and criminal records, and until recently jail terms.
One in 10 UK court cases are TV Licensing prosecutions. The reality, however, is that licensing officers have no special powers, and almost all cases require viewers to have made purely-voluntary confessions.
In the interests of clarity, this site DOES NOT advocate or condone breaking of the law. If you want to keep watching TV live or recorded as live, keep paying your TV licence fee. However, if you’ve decided to only watch catch-up shows and wish to avoid being harassed repeatedly by TV Licensing operatives, these are your rights:
1. TV Licensing staff call themselves “officers” but are ordinary private citizens employed by Capita and have NO LEGAL RIGHT OF ACCESS TO YOUR HOME. If they knock at the door and ask to be admitted, you don’t have to let them in (unless they’re accompanied by a police officer with a warrant).
It doesn’t matter whether you’re the homeowner or a tenant. You do not have to answer any questions they ask. If you do let them in you still don’t have to comply with any requests they make, or sign any forms they produce.
2. It doesn’t matter if your TV is capable of receiving broadcasts or not. You don’t need to detune it or disconnect the aerial (you could legally be using it to only receive radio). To be guilty of an offence you actually have to be caught in the act of watching a live/as-live broadcast without a licence. In practice, the only way this can happen is if you allow a TV Licensing operative into your home voluntarily, or they look through the window and see you doing so.
(So if you live in a 10th-floor flat, that’s not going to happen.)
3. If you own your home (in England and Wales) you may withdraw the “implied right of access” to your home by writing to TV Licensing doing so. TVL operatives then may not even approach your property.
If you’ve decided to stop paying, you should formally notify TV Licensing by filling in the appropriate form, which will also enable you to receive a refund for any payments already made in advance.
Once again, we emphasise that this site does NOT advocate or condone any illegal act. Readers should make their own decisions about whether to keep funding the BBC or whether to stop doing so within the law. We, unfortunately, have to keep watching, because it’s our job. But you don’t.