TV Licensing reveals shocker excuses of the year

TV Licensing has today revealed the most implausible excuses given over the last 12 months for not having a TV Licence - and it’s been a top year for tall tales.

Alongside the usual attempts to blame relatives or animals, bizarre logic and a lack of common sense rule the list of excuses proffered to TV Licensing’s enquiry officers this year.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, licence dodgers from across the UK have been particularly inventive in explaining their reasons for not purchasing a TV Licence, despite needing one.

Some of the absurd pretexts given by licence fee evaders this year included:

  • No deal: "I’ve got no licence because when I called TV Licensing they refused to barter with me. Everything should be up for negotiation."
  • Don’t work with animals: "My house was invaded by a squirrel which weed on my TV, so now it doesn't work properly."
  • Downright dim: "I don't watch the television; I just use it as a light in the dark."

Enquiry officers faced an array of unashamed tales and delaying tactics, with one person even declaring: “Can you call back later? I want to finish watching the end of this TV programme.”

Despite the weird and wonderful excuses given by licence fee evaders, TV Licensing caught more than 338,000 people watching TV without a licence over the first ten months of 2010.

Ian Fannon, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “No matter how creative people get with their excuses, watching or recording live TV without a licence is against the law.  In fairness to those who pay the fee, we will prosecute those who try to avoid it, including the likes of the gentleman who refused to buy a licence unless we bartered with him. He was found guilty and fined by unimpressed magistrates.

“We’re effective at catching evaders, but we would always rather people pay than risk a fine of up to £1,000.  To help those that may find it difficult to pay in one go, we offer a range of payment options to help spread the cost – all of which can be set up quickly and easily online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk or by phone if you prefer.” 

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, added: "Your TV Licence should be treated as a priority debt, alongside expenses such as your mortgage or rent, council tax and gas and electric bills. Those struggling with their finances should seek free, independent advice from a charitable organisation such as National Debtline or Citizens Advice. It is also worth noting that it is possible to pay your TV Licence in weekly instalments at a PayPoint outlet, over the phone, online or via SMS by joining the cash payment plan."

Anyone in doubt about when a TV Licence is or isn’t needed can easily check by visiting www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info or by calling 0300 790 6112.


Notes to Editors:
For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please call the TV Licensing press office on 020 7544 3144 or email mediaenquiries@tvlicensing.info.  Cartoons depicting the top two excuses are available on request.

2010 top ten

  1. "When I called TV Licensing they refused to barter so I decided not to buy. Everything should be up for negotiation."
  2. "My house was invaded by a squirrel which weed on my TV, so now it doesn't work properly."
  3. "I don't need to buy a licence as I live like a Buddha."
  4. "I don't watch the television; I just use it as a light in the dark."
  5. "My TV's too small to fit the licence in the back to make the signal work, so I didn't bother getting one."
  6. "Can you call back later? I want to finish watching the end of this TV programme."
  7. "There's not enough space in my purse for the TV Licence payment card and I can't afford a bigger one."
  8. "The street lights outside my house flicker so that I can't watch my TV properly."
  9. "My boyfriend was drunk and ate my payment card so I can't pay."
  10. "I thought my TV Licence would be free as I only watch TV when I'm bored and mostly at the weekends."


Who needs a TV Licence?
If you use or install television equipment to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV, you need to be covered by a valid TV Licence.  Viewing television without a licence risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. A colour TV Licence currently cost £145.50. A black and white TV Licence currently costs £49.00.

Paying for a TV Licence:
TV Licensing aims to make it as easy as possible for people to buy a TV Licence, which is why there are many different ways to pay.

  • Online – people are now able to pay online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info by Direct Debit or with a debit or credit card
  • Direct Debit - monthly, quarterly or annual Direct Debit payment schemes are available and can be set up online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/directdebit
  • Over-the-counter – people can now pay at any of more than 22,000 PayPoint outlets across the country
  • Debit or credit card over the phone - this facility accepts payment from a range of debit cards including Maestro, Delta and Connect
  • By post – send a cheque made payable to TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL.
  • To find out more about paying in weekly instalments over the counter, online, by SMS or by phone on the cash payment plan, call 0300 790 6078 or view payment methods.


General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: