‘The TV is only on for the dog’ - Calderdale TV licence evaders’ excuses

Dog watching television.
Dog watching television.

TV licence evaders in Calderdale have been using far-fetched excuses for not paying up.

“I don’t watch TV, it’s only on for the dog,” was the line given by one Halifax resident when caught by an enquiry officer, while in Todmorden, one evader said “I haven’t been paying because it’s in my two-year-old daughters name. I thought it was free”.

The list of excuses ranges from sublime to hilarious, with one Leeds resident saying “I have only just passed my driving test. I haven’t done a test for my TV licence”, while one Wakefield man claimed “I don’t watch TV because me and the wife make our own films. We’re in the bath at the moment so go away.”

Matthew Thompson, TV Licensing spokesperson, added: “We are effective at catching evaders but it’s not surprising a few of those caught will try and avoid taking responsibility. Fewer than two per cent of households only watch catch up TV, so the vast majority of homes still need a TV Licence. Some of the humour and originality in this year’s excuses provided a laugh for our Enquiry Officers and customer service centre staff, but behind every excuse is someone who has been caught watching or recording live TV without a licence.

“We would much rather people buy a TV Licence, which they can pay for either in one go, or in smaller weekly or monthly instalments, than make an fanciful excuse and face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.”

Between 94 and 95 per cent of homes across the UK are licensed but a small minority continue to offer excuses when they get caught evading.

Consultant Psychologist Kerry Daynes explains why people make up excuses rather than tell the truth. “We tell little white lies all the time, usually to lubricate passage through our daily lives and often to make other people feel better. It is interesting that the more outlandish excuses have been judged by the evader as more socially acceptable, and therefore less embarrassing than the truth, whilst others may offer an extraordinary reason as a covert way of showing contempt. But even the most forgiving of people would struggle to be convinced by the one about the Tooth Fairy…”

A BBC spokesman added: “At just £2.80 a week per household the BBC provides excellent value for money. Low evasion rates are effectively saving each licence fee payer £15. It means that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match of the Day can be watched by everyone - not a select few. Public support for the licence fee has risen by 22 per cent since 2004 and remains the most popular way of funding the BBC.”