Why I Cancelled my TV License

I’ve finally cancelled my TV license. Its not an easy thing to do- practically and emotionally.

In practical terms, the TV Licensing website has no proper section for cancellation. Instead one has to send them an ‘enquiry’. They reply promptly, sometimes rather late at night, demanding to know the reason. I thought this rather impertinent; my reasons for spending or not spending £150 per annum are my own business. When this was done, they efficiently cancelled the direct debit and sent me a refund form.

Emotionally, I have a fond attachment to the BBC. Perchance I’m rather proud of it. Its one of our national institutions; the role it played in the second world war was tremendous and it still produces high quality programmes seen around the world. Nevertheless, it suffers from an increasingly obvious bias. BBC comedy, according to Andrew Neal, has a definite left-wing, liberal prejudice. Take The Mash Report, for example, which is BBC Two's satirical late-night show. Neal describes it as "self-satisfied, self-adulatory, unchallenged Left-wing propaganda. It's hardly balance. Could never happen on a politics show. Except this has become a politics show." Furthermore, The Daily Express calculated that a study of 24 BBC Question Time shows revealed that 22 out of 24 programmes had a Remain majority on its panel with two of them having no Brexit supporters at all. The Sun estimates that the Sunday Politics Show guests had included 78 Remainers and 37 Leavers (73 per cent vs. 27 per cent). A month or so ago, Robin Aitken published The Noble Liar: How and Why the BBC Distorts the News to Promote a Liberal Agenda. Himself an employee of the corporation for 25 years, he has built upon a similar book released in 2007. Well if the BBC is going to push its pseudo-liberal agenda, it will do so without my hard-earned money. 

Secondly, I object to needing the state’s permission to watch television. Channel 4 is publicly owned, but does not require the machinery of the state to support it. The BBC frequently uses the slots inbetween its programmes to advertise its own products, so the argument about having no advertising is not entirely valid. 

The third reason is mental. The time I have squandered staring at my box of lights over the years is too great to calculate. The banality of the things I've enjoyed watching is almost as great as The Pile is high- the semi-metaphorical, teetering stack of books waiting to be read. Knowing I cannot watch television will hopefully cajole me into reading more, going out more and enjoying the real world. Of course, there’s a danger I’ll just employ Netflix or spend more time using the internet as my crack house from which to get a mental high. Nevertheless, the one time of year when the TV schedules are actually filled with interesting things has just passed- and I missed it not a jot.

Television boxes have received reverence and devotion from three generations of Englishmen, gazing at us like malign, jealous idols, whispering ideas and values into our ears. With apologies to James Milton Hayes:


There was once a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,

There's a little marble cross below the town;

There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,

And the Yellow God no longer gazes down.


I've already a tract waiting for the TV Licensing enforcement officers when they call.