TV detector vans (the telly tax)

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TV detector vans (the telly tax)

Postby Bradster » Sat May 17, 2003 7:18 am

Okay, I just read something about how in the UK you have to pay an annual license fee if you own a television. What boggled me, though, was a mention that the authorities drive around in these detector vans with little devices on top that are supposed to pick out anyone that is using an unlicensed telly.Living in the states all my life, I've never heard of such a thing until now. Is this true? Have you ever spotted these detector vans driving around your neighborhoods?If they actually go this, do you have any idea how such a "detector" would work? Assuming the cathode tube lets off some kind of emission that it could detect, how could they differentiate between a telly and a computer monitor?Frankly, I find the whole idea a little disturbing.  

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TV detector vans (the telly tax)

Postby AndyThomas » Sat May 17, 2003 10:29 am

Possibly a bit of an urban myth - I think it's more likely that the people in any vans have a database of who has and hasn't coughed up for a TV licence and then go looking for houses that appear to have TV aerials and no licence. In fact, the more recent adverts reminding people to pay up did involve people coming up to the door and people inventing excuses as to how they didn't actually live there! This is all, of course, a knock-on effect of the way the BBC is funded - although it sells its shows abroad, a lot of its core funding comes from the TV licence fees.
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TV detector vans (the telly tax)

Postby Crash » Sat May 17, 2003 12:17 pm

Sounds like a loada crap to me, not to put too fine a point on it. The mechanical difference between a licenced and a non-licenced TV is zero. There's nothing that you can physically detect on a radar or whatever.If they do find you just try to disguise your TV as a microwave or something.
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TV detector vans (the telly tax)

Postby Happosai » Wed May 21, 2003 3:50 pm

Whenever you buy a new TV or VCR (and maybe digital set-top box, etc.), the shop is obliged to inform the TV licencing people about the purchase.  They then check their database to see whether you have a current licence, and if not, start by sending you a gentle reminder in the post about the legalities of operating a TV without a licence.They also track your movements through other means (not entirely sure how...maybe the electoral role) -- I know this as I share a house with friends and we've moved a couple of times and they've know about this and sent us each individual licence reminders at the new address (however, AFAIK, you only need separate licences if the property is shared as self-contained flats or bedsits).TV detector vans use a highly sensitive and directional RF (radio frequency) detector that can tell if a TV set is operating in a house, as the reception circuitry inside a TV produces a RF signature. (also, the aerial on top of your house, as well as receiving TV transmissions also acts as a transmitter of these frequencies -- Google "Van Eck radiation" for some interesting info...).  The vans are only used to confirm that someone not on their database of licence holders, but whom they suspect of operating TV reception equipment is doing so, before they take further action, such as obtaining a warrant to enter the premises to search for the equipment.  As well as vans, they also have hand-held detectors these days.Computer monitors, whilst giving off their own RF signature mainly from the picture tube, are not mistakenly detected as TVs, as it's the signals from the TV reception circuitry that they look for.  Similarly, non-CRT based TVs (projection, LCD, plasma screen, etc.) aren't immune.AFAIK, it isn't easy to get away with owning a TV or video without a licence and pleading that you never watch TV broadcasts and just watch pre-recorded videos, play video games, etc. -- you have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot or do not receive TV broadcasts.TV licencing info:<>Oh, and Bradster, you'll probably be even more shocked to learn that the UK TV licence fee is only used to pay for a certain number of TV and radio stations operated by the BBC (traditionally non-commercial -- i.e. no adverts).  None of the other terrestrial TV and independent radio stations get any of this money, yet the public has to own a licence even if they never watch/listen to BBC broadcasts...!(BTW, most of that was written off the top of my head and may include some inaccuracies or omissions...:)[Happosai]

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TV detector vans (the telly tax)

Postby Bradster » Wed May 21, 2003 7:11 pm

Wow, that is some fascinating stuff. I'll take a Google at some of the information you posted there.Thank you very much for all the details, Happosai!

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