Why I am NOT annoyed by the new TV licence laws

I imagine that there are plenty of annoyed Brits who are very annoyed, and perhaps worried, by the new TV licence laws that came into effect on 1st September.

The new laws mean that anyone who watches BBC iPlayer, whether it is a live or a catch up programme, will have to have a TV licence or face the strong arm of the law.

I am not annoyed, or worried, about it because we renewed our TV licence in April so we are smugly well within the law.

I almost relinquished our TV licence

However it was a close run thing because I very nearly decided to forgo live TV on the BBC and to save £145.50 by not renewing our licence back in April. This is because as a family we very rarely watch live TV.

In fact our TV isn’t even connected to an aerial (don’t ask – my DIY skills are not the best!) so we stream all our content over the internet to a long list of mobile devices and the TV via the excellent Amazon Fire TV device.

So while we rarely watch live TV, particularly as the Olympics have now finished, you will often find us as a family watching catch up programs such as Great British Bake Off, Eat Well For Less and the endless real live documentaries of cops catching bad guys that seems to capitvate the kids.

This is why millions of Brits have gleefully abandoned the TV licence and huddled around their iPads feasting on pre-broadcast programmes, or sneakily watching live TV hoping that there isn’t a detector van outside.

Big Brother is watching you

But will there ever be a detector van, or the Internet based equivalent, that can catch those people without a licence from Thursday onwards?

There is a great deal of clever tracking technology available to law enforcement and security agencies that is rightly used to detect terrorist intentions and prevent serious crimes.

Your IP address presents a window into your computer, even if you are using a proxy server or shared IP address from your Internet provider. The BBC track who is using iPlayer, on what device, when and, very possibly, where.

They install difficult to find and erase cookies onto your device so if you are caught using iPLayer without a TV licence, it is likely that your device and/or your ISP will provide the evidence.

So if the BBC can’t find those who insisgt on using iPLayer without a TV licence at the moment, it won’t be long before they can. Millions of pounds in lost revenue is at stake and the BBC badly needs it.

What about content creation though?

Thinking about “thy shall not get caught” is one thing, but this is a side issue, in my opinion. If we all want good content from the BBC then someone has to pay for it. That “someone” is you and me, whether we like it or not.

Although there are parts of the BBC that I think are an abuse of their position – why do they spend so much money on content for their website, for example, overall if we are to have an independent broadcaster then the BBC has to be funded “by the people”.

So all those who have avoided buying a TV licence, but are enjoying watching the content from the BBC, do need to realise that without the cash, there will be fewer high quality programmes.

I know that the licence fee is expensive, and seems to go up even more every year. I don’t like paying it, but I believe that it is right to pay for the content that you watch, which is why I’m not annoyed by these new TV licence laws.

What do you think?

What do you think about this? Do you agree with me that we should pay the TV licence fee, or are you someone who wants to get away without paying? (I promise that I won’t track you down through your IP address!)

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