TV licence fee rebels make a stand

PUBLISHED: 17:43 25 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:05 10 June 2010

A RETIRED couple from Hulham Road have been waging a crusade against BBC bias - by refusing to buy a TV licence for six years.

A RETIRED couple from Hulham Road have been waging a crusade against BBC bias - by refusing to buy a TV licence for six years.

John Kelly, 70, a retired engineering company boss, and his wife Leslie, 69, a former head teacher, have been at loggerheads with TV Licensing for eight years, and have refused to pay the tax since 2002.

Both UKIP activists, their concerns range from what they regard as 'pro-Europe' bias by the BBC, tasteless programming and plummeting standards.

"I've had threatening letters but no one has ever come to the door. I believe there is growing appetite for revolt," says Mr Kelly. "There is widespread concern about the BBC and the licence fee. I think the Russell Brand situation could persuade more people not to pay."

He said they had tried to complain to the BBC but got nowhere: "You are up against the might of the state, and the BBC is essentially a monopoly.

"Essentially they said it was a matter of editorial judgement- theirs."

The Kelly's are used to making a stand - previously they refused to release part of their council tax because of concerns it was funding the Regional Assembly, that they regarded as a forum of non-elected, unaccountable decision makers.

Mrs Kelly explained some of her concerns: "We have noticed a creeping BBC bias, the tasteless episode with Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand, increasingly more explicit material on programmes like Eastenders before the watershed and a drop in quality."

She added the tax was unfair in that it was not based on an ability to pay and often hit the poor or pensioners more.

One example was that if you are wealthy enough to pay the colour fee in one go it costs £139.50.

But for the first year if you choose to spread the payments over 12 months by direct debit it costs £27 a month - £324 a year.

A spokesman for TV Licensing said: "TV Licensing can, and does, prosecute people who refuse to pay the licence fee, whatever their reasons for doing so. We have prosecuted people who claim they are protesting against the licence fee.

"We prosecuted more than 151,000 people last year for TV licence evasion.

"It would therefore be very wrong if anyone were to conclude that they stand any chance of evading the fee without risking prosecution, a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £1,000.

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