MORE than 150 people have been caught watching television without a licence in Wisbech during the first eight months of 2011.
The figures were published alongside the most outlandish reasons given for not buying a TV Licence over the last 12 months.
An affair with the postman, badly behaved children and anxious pet parakeets feature in the wide-ranging list of excuses given to TV Licensing’s enquiry officers and call centres by people who should have a TV Licence, but don’t. It is a legal requirement to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you are watching or recording TV at the same time as it is broadcast.
The top three reasons given by licence fee evaders in 2011 include:
Amorous postman: “Since I had a bit of a fling with the postman I haven’t been receiving my mail so I didn’t get my TV Licence reminder.”
Paranoid parakeet: “No-one watches TV apart from the parakeet. It calms him down and stops him ripping out his feathers.”
Sticky-fingered kids: “I went to the PayPoint to pay for my licence, but I had to leave before I could pay as my kids were stealing sweets and I had to get them out fast.”
Mark Whitehouse, TV Licensing spokesperson for East Anglia, said: “Some evaders are very inventive with their excuses which can be quite entertaining. But the point is that watching or recording live TV without a licence is against the law. In fairness to the honest majority of people who pay the fee, we will prosecute those who try to avoid it.
“We would always prefer people to pay than risk a fine of up to £1,000. We offer a wide range of payment options to help spread the cost and suit people’s needs. These can all be set up quickly and easily online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk or by phone.”
Simon Johnson, Midlands Co-ordinator for AdviceUK, the UK’s largest network of independent advice centres, added: “The TV Licence should be treated as essential expenditure when drawing up a household budget. You could get a Magistrates’ Court fine for not having a licence. We know that some people find managing their finances challenging so it’s important they have access to free independent advice on how to budget and spread the cost of household bills. AdviceUK works with TV Licensing to raise awareness of the different ways you can pay for your licence, including over the phone, online, or in weekly instalments at a PayPoint outlet.”
Anyone in doubt about when a TV Licence is or isn’t needed can easily check by visiting www.tvlicensing.co.uk or by calling 0300-790-6112.