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The Great Letter Hoax

... TV LicensingTM - writing some wrongs

Heard this one...?

Question: What does an organisation do when it wants to undertake law enforcement activities but it doesn't have any legal powers?

Answer: Make stuff up

In this section of the site, we'll look in detail at the broad range of TVL letter fiction.

A Letter? For me?

TVL likes to write. It likes to write a lot. It sends around 40 million enforcement letters a year to UK households. "But hang on", I hear you say, "surely there are only 25 million households?" That's correct. Some unlicensed households receive a threatening letter... every month. You can explore these letters at

Let's look as some typical content from some of their letters:

What BBC/TVL says

When they say: You haven't responded to our previous letters
They mean this: You don't need to respond to our letters and we won't believe what you say, if you do.

When they say: If you do not need a Licence, you must tell us in the next 10 days
They mean this: You never need to notify us if you don't need a Licence. Not now. Not ever.

When they say: ...before a hearing is set at your local Court
They mean this: There's no hearing, no charge, no summons and no evidence. "Before" is a fairytale word in TVL land, and a weasel word in this one.

When they say: Offical warning: we have opened an investigation
They mean this: Nothing. It's a meaningless threat. There is no investigation. Why would they warn you? It is official, though - it comes from an actual office. Well, more of a warehouse, really. "Warehouse Warning" doesn't sound quite so threatening, though.

There's more of this, but it gets a bit samey after a while. The bottom line is that TVL's letters are a hoax - largely untrue, and seeking to persuade the reader that they are trapped within a legitimate legal process, when this is not the case. (It's neither legitimate or a legal process).

The numbers simply don't add up. One month, they may "open" 1.5 million "official investigation"s. But they only have 300 staff, so those investigations cannot amount to much, can they?

The best thing to do with the TVL letters is to throw them into the small, round recycling recepticle. Or use them for Hammy's bedding, or firelighters, or paper planes... you get the idea. Whatever you do, don't take them seriously, because they really are a joke.

Copyright free - content may be freely re-used to resist the TV Licence
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