Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Visitor

Until about a year ago, we got our TV and Internet via a set-top box. Then, for various reasons, we got fed up with the BBC and decided that television was a luxury we could well do without. So out went the set-top box (the modem, of course, stayed). There is still a TV set in the house, but only connected to a DVD-player and (may whatever being sits upon us in judgement forgive me) an X-Box for Sons Nos 2 and 3.

It follows that we didn't pay the TV Licence when it became due. It necessarily follows that there was a sharp exchange of emails between my wife and the agency that collects the licence money. Nonetheless, the sharpness didn't bite as I had expected it to. The matter seemed to have ended with an email last week saying that they had understood our position and would adjust their records accordingly. End of story.

No. Another email today repeating what had been said in the previous, but adding this paragraph.

In due course one of our Visiting Officers will call on you and confirm the situation. Once confirmed, we will update our records accordingly. This will protect your address from mailing, for a longer period than would normally be set at an address, as it has been confirmed that a set is not in use.
What could they possibly mean by "confirm the situation", I wonder. My wife has replied.
What precisely do you mean by a Visiting Officer 'calling' on me? I assume I'm under no obligation to prove a negative unless you have evidence to the contrary - if it were otherwise there would be a queue at my door. In addition to not having a TV that can receive signals, for example, I also don't:
1) harbour known terrorists
2) cultivate illegal drugs
3) solicit sex for financial gain
... but I'm not expecting a Visiting Officer to pop by and check that I'm telling the truth.

Is this a doorstep call or will this Officer assume they will be invited in?
We await the visit.


Hazar Nesimi said...

Lovel stuff, at least they don't threaten to prosecute. How many times I paid Counclil Tax once, but they still pursued me. Do you not pay TV license of principle or because there was nothing interesting you there

Riri said...

I understand what you're trying to say from an English perspective, but not from an Algerian perspective! The fact that somebody actually bothers to do checks before confirming that due money to a public institution is not to be paid anymore is simply extraordinary and should be applauded. If only we had such unwelcome visitors in this part of the world! Everything would be much better..

NoolaBeulah said...

It was a mixture of things really. I got really fed up with the BBC in the run-up to the Iraq war. They would only concentrate on the one aspect: what was said about WMD, and spent all their time trying to verbally trap the politicians. I was convinced that WMD were, at most, only a part of the motivation for war, but I had to go to American websites to get any real information. And their coverage of the war was, in common with most of the media, a counting of victims; never an analysis of the strategic mission.

For my wife it was their coverage of Israel and their refusal to release the Balen Report.

There's also the almost universal Leftward (or 'liberal' in American terms) slant of their take on religion, social issues, multiculturalism and, not least, the US (where they add a generous dose of snobbishness). I should add out of fairness that the BBC itself is aware of some of the above, and seem to be trying to change things.

I should also add that most of our reaction was against the Radio 4 newsroom. (Yes, I know the licence fee is for the TV, but ...) In addition, we never watched TV. Obviously, the kids did, but that was mostly rubbish cartoon channels and they are no great loss. Finally, I should say that I think the BBC is one of the best media organisations that I know of. We had to live with Italian media for 8 years; it made us yearn for Auntie, I can tell you. So my feelings about the BBC are extremely mixed, as you can see.

Hazar Nesimi said...

I was against Iraqi misadventure from the start - initially out of principle - and then it became really clear to me that there were no WMD, at least in capacity justifying the invasion. So invasion was on faulty promise and this was unforgivable. At the time.

I do tend to listen to BBC more that others - well there are no others in UK, Sky is a joke. And I lived in States for 2 years and I hated FOXX news, it was so crass.

I disagree that there is stance in them which is left wing - I call it more liberal - and therefore more PC, so here they stand to be corrected, especially but no one - no one reports that thoroughly, even ITV. Standarts have slipped a bit since i was in UK. I disagree with them in this way

My favourite newspapers - Times and Independent. Economist - is my magazine. Newsweek, occasionally. I dislike Daily Express and tabloids (Sun etc). I dislike also Guardian and Daily Worker

So what am I by my newspapers?

Riri said...

You are a snobbish loser that's what you are! The Sun is the best newspaper around, so professional and visionary. And what is wrong with the Daily Worker may I enquire? Certainly a honorable enough title!

NoolaBeulah said...

I will not dare make facile conclusions about you based on your taste in newspapers (I lack the presumption of some people). Speaking of which (newspapers, not presumption - we've got her for that), I'm sure you've seen the famous Yes, Prime Minister scene about who reads what, but just in case, here it is.

I must confess that I hardly even buy a newspaper, but do visit a few sites: BBC for the sport, The Telegraph and the Times, sometimes The Guardian and the Independent. But this last gets on my nerves very quickly - their headlines are like the Sun's - shrill and hysterical, and they've got Robert Fisk.

What I had against the BBC in 2002-3 was not the fact that they were against the war (I was undecided at the time), but that they wouldn't go beyond the WMD. That was all they would talk about, and it was clear to me, at least, that this coming war was about a lot of other things. Yet they did nothing but try to pick holes in what the government was saying. It was tedious and narrow.