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A TV licence is a legal permission to install or use television receiving equipment to watch or record television programmers as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, and to download or watch programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

This could be on any device, including TVs, desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, game consoles, digital boxes, DVD, Blu-ray and VHS recorders. This applies regardless of which television channels a person receives or how those channels are received.

A TV is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound.
The term can refer to a television set, a television programmes (‘TV show’), or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for entertainment, education, news, politics, gossip and advertising.
A television licence is a payment required in many countries for the reception of television broadcasts, or the possession of a television set where some broadcasts are funded in full or in part by the licence fee paid. The fee is sometimes also required to own a radio or receive radio broadcasts. A TV licence is therefore effectively a hypothecated tax for the purpose of funding public broadcasting, thus allowing public broadcasters to transmit television programmes without, or with only supplemental funding from radio and television advertisements.

The early days of broadcasting presented broadcasters with the problem of how to raise funding for their services.
Some countries adopted the advertising model, but many others adopted a compulsory public subscription model, with the subscription coming in the form of a broadcast licence paid by households owning a radio set (and later, a TV set).
With the arrival of television some countries created a separate additional television licence, while others simply increased the radio licence fee to cover the additional cost of TV broadcasting, changing the licence’s name from ‘radio licence’ to ‘TV licence’ or ‘receiver licence’. Today most countries fund public radio broadcasting from the same licence fee that is used for television, although a few still have separate radio licences, or apply a lower or no fee at all for consumers who only have a radio. Some countries also have different fees for users with color or monochrome TV. 

I think the time has come that we ask this question and evaluate the merits of the ongoing payment of TV licences.
You see, TV licences are just another form of tax we pay - but unlike e-tolls the user pays a principal which seems to have been discarded. To be fair the TV licence isn’t all that much (although every little bit adds up), most people don’t pay it, and the quality of what is on TV is largely poor. Never mind the mismanagement of the board.

The real negative to the TV tax we pay is the cost of collection. For the amount we pay, the cost of collection agencies to try and get the money out of us and the cost of TV ‘agents’ running around trying to see your printed licence (which often doesn’t arrive) - I just can’t see how the maths adds up. I am convinced it costs more to collect our TV licence fees than we pay in, so why do it?

Erick Black

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