Saturday, September 10, 2011

The "Beeb" TV Nation

The BBC is funded by people paying for a TV license instead of commercials or product placement. This means that when watching American shows my British friends are amazed at how many times shows have that pause for commercials and how short American TV shows are (since they don't show the no commercials). Normal TV means BBC 1, 2, and 3. Channel 4 and 5 are privately owned so they have commercials but not as many as American shows. Any other channels and you need a satellite dish. Since they switched over to digital here all the remotes have an extra red, green, and blue buttons that will interact differently depending on the channel and show.
The funny part is how they enforce TV licenses. If you have a TV or watch live TV on-line (I don't) you have to pay £145.50 a year. (Free if you're over 75, 50% off if you're blind, and £49 if you watch in black and white.) The joke is the enforcement. They send tons of letters. Somehow they knew I moved, even when I didn't fill in an address change. Stores will turn you in when you buy a TV, and if all else fails they have a van that drives around using radio emitters to detect TV antennas in the same way as RFID tags.
Of course living with cheap college students, a lot of them have TVs for playing playstation (and probably watching) and no license. Now if they got their TV antenna detuned it would be legal, but since they are only living here for a year they figure the process will take longer than that. Apparently the TV enforcement will try to lie their way in to the flat. If that fails then they get a warrant. But the can't touch anything so you only need to cover the TV with a sheet. Of course this is all second hand hearsay and they were surprised to hear the vans could pick up TV antennas by bouncing radio waves off of them. I don't really care because there is a TV room on the rare occasions I want to socialize. ( I have yet to watch TV alone and frankly I'm happy with most stuff on because I watch so little that what I do watch feels like a anthropology study of British culture)
Oh and "The Beeb" is the nickname for the BBC.

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