The BBC spent over £199,190.83 in 2012/13 posting 1,083,560 letters about TV licensing to student halls of residence.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that 7,011,875 ‘Red’ enforcement letters last year, (sent to addresses that haven’t responded to previous reminders to purchase or renew a TV Licence). This despite the fact that a little less than 400,000 people were caught watching TV without a licence across the UK in 2010 In 2011/12 the BBC spent £9,500,000 on postage.
The £199,190.83 spent on letters to student halls of residence only consists of the cost of postage and does not include the cost of paper or printing. Neither does it include the letters sent to students living in rented accommodation outside of halls of residence.
Using research which interviewed only 200 students across universities in May 2011, TV licensing claim that 29% of students watch live TV online and that 28% think they don’t need a license or don’t plan to buy one. Pauline Gillingham, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “…if they are watching or recording programmes…at the same time as they are shown on TV they must have a valid licence or risk breaking the law.”
Retail Marketing Management student Rosie Dorman, 23, was bought a TV license by her mum when she moved into a shared flat in her second year. However she still received ten letters from the TV licensing authority despite having called them twice to confirm that she had a license. She described the behaviour as, “harassment, especially since we’ve actually bought the license they should be able to see that. And the fact that we were still receiving letters months later; it’s ridiculous.”
TV licensing has previously received criticism for its approach. A TV license officer was convicted of assault in 2005 on a person who denied needing a license and started filming the officer. In 2009 the BBC instructed the TV licensing authority to stop using “bully boy” tactics.
A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and a black and white TV Licence costs £49.00.