When is an installment not an installment? When Rai [Italy's public service broadcasting company, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance] has anything to do with it, that's when!
For some time now, Italy has been trying to solve the problem of TV licence fee evaders, of which there are many. A couple of years ago, it was decided that, if the fee was added to electricity bills, everyone would have to pay it on time, for everyone has electricity and if you have electricity you are bound to have a TV, right? Who, after all, could live without one? Well, quite a few people are actually claiming that they can and do.
If you genuinely don't have a TV and therefore wish to be exempted from licence fee payment, you are going to have to prove it, this year and every year, and, quite honestly, I don't fancy your chances. I have a friend here who has never had a TV and who has to date fought a ten-year battle in order to be believed - a fiasco which began long before some bureaucrat came up with the combined licence fee and electricity bill idea.
But let us get to the installments: as a softener, the licence fee has been slightly reduced from €113,50 to €100 per year, to be paid in ten installments. Parliament finally passed the measure last year after much to-ing amd fro-ing and if you're British, like me, you might have expected to be billed for the first installment with the first electricity bill of 2016. This didn't happen and nobody seemed to know if or when the payments would have to start. Now, however, it has been announced that the first "installment" will be requested with the July electricity bill - only it won't be one installment, but six, as the January - June installments will have to be paid in one go. To my mind, this renders them non-installments but a down payment, though everybody else just sighs and regards the situation as perfectly normal - which of course, it is in Italy, a country not known for its ability to simplify such matters.
Something tells me there is going to be a fair amount of chaos in July!