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TV licensing apologises to 'harassed' Belfast pensioners

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On Saturday, the couple received a letter from TV Licensing saying, in red letters, that an official investigation had been opened at their address

On Saturday, the couple received a letter from TV Licensing saying, in red letters, that an official investigation had been opened at their address

PA

On Saturday, the couple received a letter from TV Licensing saying, in red letters, that an official investigation had been opened at their address

TV Licensing has said sorry to a Belfast couple who claimed they were "harassed" with repeated "bullying letters" saying they did not have a licence and threatening enforcement action.

Jacqui (72) and Jimmy Patton (71), from Dunmurry, have had a licence since 2000 and even sent TV Licensing a photograph of the receipt for it.

They said they had contacted the organisation on several occasions, but to no avail.

After they spoke out last week, TV Licensing said it had no record of receiving the Pattons' payment, so it contacted them to obtain a record of their receipt for the licence.

"I sent a photo of a copy of our receipt - because we couldn't get a photocopier - to TV Licensing, but I have heard nothing since," Jacqui said previously.

"In one of my letters, I said to them, 'This is harassment'. I said my husband was 72 and in poor health, that they were harassing us and that it wasn't on."

On Saturday, the couple received a letter from TV Licensing saying, in red letters, that an official investigation had been opened at their address.

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When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, the company issued an apology to the Pattons and said they would be sent a new licence within 10 days.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience and concern Mr and Mrs Patton have experienced. The issue has now been resolved. A new licence is in place and will be sent to the licence holder in the next 10 working days," a spokesperson explained.

Welcoming the development, Jacqui said: "I would've liked perhaps a few free months on the licence, but at least this will stop all the letters, which is a relief after all that."

It emerged earlier this month that since the first lockdown, the BBC had issued almost one million warning letters to homes across Northern Ireland. It spent around £250,000 sending out these messages.

The TaxPayers' Alliance said chasing down licence payments should not be a priority.

"These bullying BBC letters represent a ridiculous waste of money," a spokesman added.

"People are being chased for an ever more expensive TV tax at a time when hard-pressed households are struggling to make ends meet."

From March to December last year, more than 1,000 people were brought before the courts for not having a licence.

A licence is required by households watching or recording live broadcast programmes, including streaming services such as Amazon Prime. A licence currently costs £157.50, but this is rising to £159 in April.

The BBC contracts TV Licensing inspectors for collection and enforcement.

Belfast Telegraph


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