Prison is the threat if you do not pay TV licence

Not for the first time “TV Licensing” (TV Taxing) arrogantly goes into defence of the television tax by saying that watching television ‘illegally’ can only result in a fine, not imprisonment (“Fines only over TVs”, Your say, October 1). These, of course, are just weasel words from TV Licensing.

If, as TV Licensing says, you cannot be imprisoned for not paying the TV tax then why are people taken to a criminal court for not paying? Why is it not the case that they are taken to a civil court (and yes, TV Licensing, this is a rhetorical question).

If, for example, a person shops at supermarket A but not at supermarket B are they not required to pay a tax to supermarket B. So why, if a person does not watch any BBC programmes but watches other broadcasters’ programmes should they be required, by law, to pay a tax to the BBC?

If it were not the threat of imprisonment then the fine would be unenforceable; if the fine were unenforceable then so would be the TV tax. In May 2009 the Evening Courier published a letter in which I said how in New Zealand a campaign was launched whereby objectors refused to pay the licence fee - arguing that it was an unfair tax, and one which had been imposed with dubious legality.

In 1999 the system of TV licence fees in New Zealand was abandoned - having been deemed no longer workable.

Part of the TV tax has gone towards switching off analogue TV and the bringing in of a service which, in some aspects, is inferior to the analogue system (as is digital radio).

If you wish to record one programme whilst watching another it requires extra expense on new equipment and which, I have been informed, results in broadcasters being able to delete recordings that you have saved to your digital video recorder - even though you do not want them deleted.

Why should people be required to pay a tax for this - with the risk of imprisonment if they do not?

Raymond Hoppkrofft

Barker Street