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Information Policy & Compliance

12 August 2015

Request for Information – RFI20151218

Thank you for your request of 19th July 2015 under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’) seeking the following information:

"Please provide the following information under FOI legislation and within the 20 working days

1. Former BBC presenter Noel Edmonds has made it clear on national TV including the BBC itself that he cancelled his TV licence and refuses to pay for a BBC licence. The following clip show the very comments he made on the BBC captured here

What action has been taken by the BBC against Noel Edmonds that is being taken against thousands of ordinary people every year for refusing to pay for a BBC TV licence?

2.Year on year please provide how many people have been JAILED for refusing to pay for a BBC TV licence?"

Please note that "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 (‘Capita’). Over-the-counter services are provided by PayPoint plc (‘PayPoint’) in the UK, and by the Post Office in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Marketing and printing services are contracted to Proximity London Ltd. Media services are contracted to Mediaedge:CIA International Limited ("MEC"). The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing functions and retains overall responsibility.

Request 1

Firstly, I should explain that anyone who watches or records television programmes at the same time as they are being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service, needs to be covered by a TV Licence. People caught watching or recording television programmes could risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Please be advised that we cannot comment on a specific individual’s circumstances unless that individual has recently put their personal circumstances into the public domain. This is because the licensable status of an individual’s address, together with any action that may have been taken by TV Licensing, constitutes personal information under section 40(2) of the Act.

Personal information about living individuals is exempt under the Freedom of Information Act if disclosure to a third party would breach one or more principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. As the individuals do not expect these details to be disclosed, to do so would be unfair. Therefore, disclosure would breach the first principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 which requires data to be processed fairly and lawfully.

Request 2

Please be advised that a person cannot be sentenced to imprisonment if convicted of an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act 2003. The maximum penalty for not having a valid TV Licence is a £1000 fine (or £2000 in Guernsey and £500 in Jersey). The court may also order the convicted person to pay for TV Licensing’s costs in the proceedings. However, a person may be imprisoned by the court for failing to pay the court fine as a last resort. Section 82(4) (b) Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 states that a magistrates’ court can only issue a warrant of commitment where it is satisfied that the default in payment of the fine imposed is due to the offender’s wilful refusal or culpable neglect, and it has considered or tried all other methods of enforcing payment of the sum and it appears to the court that they are inappropriate or unsuccessful.

For England, Wales and Northern Ireland, imprisonment figures are retained by both the Ministry of Justice ("MOJ") and individual magistrates’ courts and can be requested using the following address - Data Access and Compliance Unit, Postal Point 6.25, Floor 6, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ.

However, under our duty to advise and assist you under section 16 of the Act, please note that the latest data from the Government shows that, in the nine-month period January to September 2014, 34 people received an average sentence of 18 days1 (with actual time served likely to be less than this).

1 Parliamentary question asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 6th February 2015, answered by Lord Faulks on 18th February 2015.

If you plan to publish a story on this information, please include the following statement:

A TV Licensing spokesperson said:

"We are constrained by the Data Protection Act on what details we can release on individuals.

It’s TV Licensing’s duty to enforce the law on behalf of the 95% of people who do pay the licence fee. Clearly, where valid licences are held, TV Licensing has no reason to prosecute. Where we have evidence to suggest someone is watching TV illegally, they risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. This applies no matter who you are or what your personal views about the licence fee are."

Appeal Rights

If you are not satisfied that the BBC has 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 under the Act and including your reference number. If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. The contact details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5AF. Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 (national rate) or see

Kind regards

Rupinder Panesar

Freedom of Information Advisor, TV Licensing Management Team

  • British courts clogged up with the BBC's draconian punishment for licence avoiders (They jail the peasants for refusing to pay for their vile royalist propaganda and the predatory paedo's like Jimmy Savile who were paid millions of public money )