Legal basis of licence enforcement

The request was partially successful.

Christopher Green

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

Section 363 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to install or use a television receiver to watch or record any television programmes as they’re being shown on television without a TV Licence.

Section 365 of that Act requires that a person to whom a TV Licence is issued must pay a fee to the BBC. The nature and amount of this fee is set out in the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (as amended).

Section 366 of that Act states that a warrant may be issued to search premises where REASONABLE GROUNDS exist to believe that an offence under Section 363 has been committed.

There is nothing in this Act, or any other, that gives the BBC a remit for "enforcement" except a general right to collect that which is due to it. However where a household does not a require a TV Licence, then no payment is due to the BBC and attempts to elicit payment cannot be described as collection. Such activities would be more properly described as extortion - defined as a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from an individual or institution, through coercion.

Furthermore, it is a fundamental tenet of British Law that a citizen is assumed innocent unless there are reasonable grounds to believe otherwise. Nothing in common law or statute authorises those charged with law enforcement to speculatively and repeatedly require citizens to demonstrate or assert their innocence without reasonable grounds to suspect they have committed an offence. Would you agree?

The choice not to purchase a TV licence essentially reflects the free market choice of consumers not to purchase licenceable entertainment content. Where in statute or common law is it indicated that the exercise of market choice by consumers, however unusual, constitutes reasonable grounds for suspicion of an offence?

Kindly tell me then, on what legal basis does the BBC pursue a relationship with citizens who have not purchased a licence where REASONABLE GROUNDS to suspect an offence under section 363 DO NOT EXIST?

If it asserted that the relationship is consensual kindly provide me with details of the process by which the BBC seeks and receives voluntary, informed consent from individuals for continued contact from BBC/TVL/Capita?

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Green

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

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Dear Christopher Green


Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email. Your request was received
on 09/03/2018.  We will deal with your request as promptly as possible,
and at the latest within 20 working days. If you have any queries about
your request, please contact us at the address below.


The reference number for your request is RFI20180446.


Kind regards,



Information Rights


BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP



Email: [2][BBC request email]


Tel: 020 8008 2882





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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Green,


Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20180446.


Yours sincerely


BBC Information Policy and Compliance

Room BC2 A4

Broadcast Centre

White City


W12 7TS



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Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]


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