The most outlandish reasons given for not buying a TV Licence, over the last 12 months, have been published by TV Licensing.
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. 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 (see below) 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."
Despite the huge variety of inventive excuses given by licence fee evaders, TV Licensing caught more than 256,000 people watching TV without a licence over the first eight months of 2011.
Pauline Gillingham, TV Licensing spokesperson, 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."
David Hawkes, National Money Advice Co-ordinator at Advice UK, 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 check by calling 0300 790 6112.
2011 top ten excuses:
1. "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."
2. "No-one watches TV apart from the parakeet. It calms him down and stops him ripping out his feathers."
3. "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."
4. "My Payment Card fell in the toaster so I had to iron it and now the PayPoint machine won’t accept it."
5. "I can’t afford a TV Licence now as the repayments on my brand new car are cleaning me out!"
6. "I never got the reminders because my two year-old hides all my post in her toy box".
7. "I would have to sell my TV to pay for a licence so I can’t do that."
8. "I don’t need a TV Licence, I already pay for my electricity bill."
9. "I’m getting married and am too busy picking flowers, colours and things to buy a TV Licence."
10. "I cannot go out to buy a licence because I am allergic to the sun."