BBC labelled ‘campaign of intimidation’ as corporation issues threatening warning letters

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Earlier this week, the corporation faced renewed calls to axe the mandatory licence fee after they restarted home visits to catch people who do not have a valid licence. New letters were sent to people during the coronavirus pandemic threatening them with a visit from enforcement officers.

One of the letters had a red box telling taxpayer’s they are breaking the law by not paying the annual licence fee.

It read: “Warning, You are in breach of the Communications Act 2003.

“You should expect a visit from Enforcement Officers.”

But now the Defund The BBC campaign has lashed out at the BBC and said it was “disgraceful” and a “campaign of intimidation”.

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Rebecca Ryan, campaign director, told “I didn’t know they had particularly stopped.

“I think it is disgraceful really. Their communications is one of the worst.

“A lot of people want to cancel their licence but they continue to pay it because they are intimidated.

“They don’t want to be funding this but they don’t want to be hassled.

“And even if they don’t watch BBC or have a TV, they still pay because they don’t want to be hassled.

“How awful is that, that their communications strategy is to bully to fund it up.”

Ms Ryan went on to say how the letter they send out are “really bullying” and questioned whether it should be the “behaviour of a national broadcaster”.

She continued: “The letters they send out are really bullying.

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“They look like red reminders and have these threats in huge font about facing fines and then in tiny writing they say but if you don’t watch live TV or iPlayer you don’t need a licence.

“It’s really a campaign of intimidation and unfortunately we have seen it is quite successful.

“But is that really the behaviour of a national broadcaster?

“Is that really something the Government should be supporting?”

While the BBC have restarted their letter sending and threatening enforcement officers, Ms Ryan said she is “not surprised” they are back at it days within the new year.

Ms Ryan said: “Not surprising they are back at it straight away and no doubt they will carry on during this lockdown as well.

“In the last lockdown, there was a letter from 23 MPs saying stop doing the visit.

“And the BBC’s response was, ‘We are not asking to come in anymore but stand on people’s doorsteps’.

“If you can’t go out at all in fear of going to the shops how is it necessary to turn up on people’s doorsteps and intimidate them?

“If you have got vulnerable people at home who do not want to be intimidated on their doorstep, how is it essential work of the BBC via licensing to threaten people on their doorsteps?

“I don’t see the point in it at all really other than keeping a threat over people’s heads.

“If that’s how the BBC funds itself, then what does that say about their quality of output that they have to use that level of threat to keep themselves financed.”

A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “TV Licensing has a duty to enforce the law. 

“The letters we send may become progressively stronger in tone, depending on whether people respond to enquiries or not. 

“They are used to deter evaders and explain the consequences of not being correctly licensed.”

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