Magazine article The Spectator

Bullies of Bristol

Magazine article The Spectator

Bullies of Bristol

Article excerpt

From John Weston Smith Sir: In exposing that bullying and bumbling body, TV Licensing, Charles Moore chose a ripe target (The Spectator's Notes, 25 November). Recently I bought a new TV set, and the shop as required notified TVL of my name, address and postcode. I then received a very menacing letter from TVL stating that it could not find me on its register and threatening dire consequences if I did not buy a licence.

Nowhere among the threats and options did TVL ask whether I had a licence already.

I have one, correctly showing my name, address and postcode and recording that I paid the fee direct to TVL itself. This body has issued renewal notices to me for many years from its register. Of course, mistakes happen, but why does TVL have to behave so obnoxiously? Why does it not start by asking two simple questions: 'Do you hold a licence?' 'If so, what is its number?' Inquiries reveal that others have suffered the same worrying experience of an unjustified accusatory letter after buying a new set. This is a very heavyhanded and hectoring approach from a body which has a lot of power and can prosecute. And it costs us a lot of money.

According to its website, last year TVL spent a whopping £152 million in collecting licence fees from 24. …

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