This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Legal framework of Licence Fee enforcement activity'.

20 June 2011 
Dear Mark, 
Request for Information – RFI20110690 
Thank you for your email, received 16 June 2011, requesting information under the terms of the Freedom 
of Information Act 2000.   
Before I respond to your questions, it may be helpful if I first explain the nature of the relationship between 
TV Licensing and the BBC.  “TV Licensing” is a trade mark used by companies contracted by the BBC to 
administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system. The 
majority of the administration of TV Licensing is contracted to Capita Business Services Ltd (which 
undertakes the majority of the administration of the TV Licensing system), with the administration of our 
cash related payment schemes contracted to iQor UK Limited. PayPoint Network Ltd and PayPoint 
Collections Ltd are contracted to provide over-the-counter services. Marketing and printing services are 
contracted to Proximity London Ltd as are public relations and advertising services.  The latter are 
subcontracted by Proximity to Fishburn Hedges Boys Williams Ltd, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Ltd and 
PHD Media Ltd.  The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing functions and retains 
overall responsibility. 
You have requested the following information: 
1.  Whether the BBC relies on legislation or common law in its letter writing to unlicensed households? 
2.  Whether the BBC relies on legislation or common law in its "home visits" to unlicensed households? 
3.  In the case of (1) above, a description of the activities permitted by legislation or common law that the BBC 

relies upon. 
4.  In the case of (2) above, a description of the activities permitted by legislation or common law that the BBC 
relies upon. 

Part 4 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 valid TV Licence. Part 
4 of the Communications Act does not refer specifically to writing letters to unlicensed households or to 
making visits to unlicensed households. Part 4 does however state that the BBC will issue TV licences and 
collect the licence fee. It also creates a power for a search warrant to be granted to any person authorised 
by  the  BBC  or  Ofcom.  Search  warrants  are  granted  so  that  evidence  may  be  found  (or  not)  of  the 
commission of an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act.  
The fact that the activities you refer to are not specifically provided for does not mean that the BBC has no 
power to undertake them. Case law has established that a statutory power will be construed as impliedly 
authorising everything which can fairly be regarded as incidental or consequential to the power itself and 
this doctrine is interpreted widely by the courts. 
These activities will fall within this principle. Every public authority dealing with public money must act 
efficiently. In addition, the BBC Charter requires that the arrangements for the collection of the licence fee 
are efficient, appropriate and proportionate. It would not be an acceptable policy for TV Licensing to make 
no checks on those who tell us that they do not need a television licence. This would lead to an increase in 
the number of people making false claims, thereby increasing crime and decreasing the amount of revenue 
Further, the provisions of section 366 themselves require that the BBC makes enquiries such as this. A 
search warrant will only be granted where the court is satisfied that there are: 
a)  reasonable grounds for believing that an offence under section 363 has been or is being committed 
b)  that evidence of the commission of the offence is likely to be the on the premises stated and  
c)  that one or more of the following conditions is satisfied. 
The relevant conditions that must be satisfied are: 
a)  that there is no person entitled to grant entry to the premises with whom it is practicable to 
communicate or 
b)  that there is no person entitled to grant access to the evidence with whom it is practicable to 
communicate or 
c)  that entry to the premises will not be granted unless a warrant is produced. 
The BBC can only satisfy these conditions if it has sought to communicate with the individual and has 
sought to gain entry to the premises without a warrant. 
5.  Notwithstanding the above, please can you confirm what obligation(s), if any, unlicensed households have to 
co-operate with your enforcement process. 
I have interpreted “cooperation with your enforcement process” as referring to both TV Licensing mailings and 
to visits from TV Licensing visiting officers.   
In terms of TV Licensing mailings I confirm that individuals are not obliged to respond.  As we are legally 
obligated to ensure all those who need a licence have one, we write to unlicensed properties to ask 

whether a licence is required.  If no response is received we have no way of knowing whether a licence is 
required or not.  I would add that the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) estimates 26.8 
million private domestic households (approximately 97% of households) in the UK own televisions.  TV 
Licensing therefore has, prior to sending out any letters, good reason to consider many unlicensed 
households do in fact require a TV Licence.   
If no response is received to enquiry letters from TV Licensing, an enquiry officer will call at the address to 
determine the licensing requirements.  The occupant of a property has no obligation to grant entry to an 
enquiry officer. If refused entry the enquiry officer will leave the property. I would note however that if 
enquiry officers are refused access or an occupant withdraws the right to visit, then TV Licensing reserve 
the right to use other methods of detection.  Search warrants are only applied for in cases where the 
evidence means that it is likely that a television is in use. TV Licensing is open regarding its policy that it will 
only apply for a search warrant as a last resort. Search warrant applications are considered scrupulously 
before they are submitted. As a matter of law, a search warrant cannot be granted unless there are 
reasonable grounds for the application. 
6.  The BBC has made the following statement in various responses regarding licence fee enforcement: "This 
responsibility was expressly confirmed by the Home Office in 1991.”.   Please can you publish the content 
of that confirmation by The Home Office, together with its context and the name and authority of the 
Home Office official who agreed it.. 

In 1991 the BBC took over the responsibility for managing licence fee collection and administration from 
the Home Office.  The transfer of functions to the BBC was set out in a March 1991 document, a copy of 
which is attached.  Please note that due to the age of this document some references are now out of date.  
Please also disregard the highlighting in Clause 3 of the agreement.   
In accordance with section 1(1) of the Act, I am able to confirm that the BBC does not hold the additional 
information you have requested, specifically the name and authority of the Home Office who agreed it.   
Your appeal rights 
This enquiry has been dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, as indicated above.  If 
you are not satisfied that we have complied with the Act in responding to your request, you have the right 
to an internal review by a BBC senior manager or legal adviser.  Please contact us at the address above 
explaining what you would like us to review and including the reference number given at the start of this 
letter.  If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner, 
whose contact details are as follows:  Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, 
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF; telephone: 01625 545700; 
Yours sincerely, 
Dan McGregor 
Senior Policy Adviser, TV Licensing Management Team