Don’t Believe Everything You Read …

tv test pattern

My father always used to say that one should never — never — issue a threat unless one were absolutely willing to go through with it. Only a fool would issue an empty threat, he maintained.

On that basis, the staff of the British Television Licensing Authority (TVLA) are fools, and then some. They issue serious threats with no backing whatsoever in law or fact, hoping to bully people into compliance, even those who have no need to comply.

The good news at the start of the year is that I won’t be going to jail. I reported last week ( that I might be heading for the slammer, because I do not own a TV licence. But …

… it turns out that the letter I received from the TVLA was an empty threat based on lies, a callous and deliberately misleading attempt to scare. Although the TVLA is essentially part of the Government (because of that fact, some of my friends would argue), its behaviour lacks moral decency. The truth and the presumption of innocence mean nothing to TVLA. It uses an invented authority to intimidate. It abuses the tiny powers it has with the vilest behaviour, short of beating the citizenry with sticks. The TVLA is, in sum, an outrage and a national disgrace.

The faceless civil servants at that organisation hide behind pseudonyms, lest their friends find out what they do for a living. How proud they must be of their work, like their forebears, the Press Gang and, in some respects, the Spanish Inquisition.

For the record, the TVLA has no more power than your butcher, baker or candlestick-maker to extract money from you. If you don’t have a butcher, no butcher can have you jailed. If you don’t have a TV, the TVLA is powerless. Its letters, threats and even visits may legally be ignored by those who do not own a TV set. You can quote me on it. I learned it from enquiries among those who had crossed swords with the TVLA and this invaluable website: (

How do you suppose the TVLA people see themselves? Let us imagine a TVLA father talking to his son. The child adores his father and looks up to him as a role model.

The son asks: “What do you do all day, Daddy?

“I menace innocent people, Johnny, and threaten to ruin their lives for no good reason.”

“Is that a good thing to do, Daddy?” the child asks.

“It is if you’re a mindless thug with a badge, Johnny,” replies the Dad.

“I want to be a mindless thug when I grow up, Daddy,” says the lad. “I want to terrorise people and make them live in fear like you do.”

“Oh you will, Johnny, you will. Let’s start you off by extorting some beer money out of your little sister.”

Rot in hell, TVLA. You’ll hear nothing further from me until I buy a television and the necessary licence for it.

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