Friday, October 06, 2006


I have been having trouble regarding television licences in both countries: I had told the British administrators of this government ruse to obtain revenue even from those who watch little BBC that I was leaving the country and cancelled my direct debit back in May 2005. Since then I have had numerous demands for the fee forwarded to me here and I have e-mailed the relevant office on countless occasions. A couple of months ago they promised to amend their records but then I got another letter, threatening to send the heavies round to my former home in Britain [well, not quite, but you get the gist]. Upon e-mailing the office yet again, I received the reply that they "could not answer your query because you have not given us your licence number." I got stroppy then [vis-à-vis your own country you know how far you can go, and when] and replied: "I cannot give you my licence number because I don't have one and I don't need one as I'm not in Britain and this is what I have been trying to tell you! So will you please stop harassing me?!" As a result of this, I have received an apology.

No sooner had I breathed a sigh of relief as that little contretemps seemed to be over, than I started receiving hassley letters from RAI [the Italian State broadcasting company], despite the fact that I had paid the fee for this year before the 1st January like the good, upstanding citizen that I wish to be. Twice I have received a letter saying that I haven't paid and twice I have sent the little card back stating that I have and giving details of my receipt. I hope it doesn't reach the stage a friend got to, where, although she doesn't even own a TV - it is just assumed here that you do and that the first object you will put in your place of residence is a set - she had to pay a solicitor to write to RAI to get them off her back. I shall be a very fed-up little citizeness indeed if I have to pay a solicitor as well as having paid the fee!

As in all such matters, it is made virtually impossible for you to to get through by phone and speak to a person to clarify the situation [an irritation not confined to Italy] and you will have seen from this post that the Italians are not the only ones who can't sort their bureaucratic files out!

Incidentally, when I was in the UK, I used to be a supporter of the principle of the licence fee, although I considered it far too expensive [currently at £131.50 per year for a standard one as against €99.60 here] as I felt it guaranteed the independence of the BBC. Now, though, I understand that it is due to the licence fee that I can't receive my beloved Radio 4 in Italy [except via the internet] so I'm not so sure these days! [Observe, dear readers, how my principles fly out of the window when I am faced with inconvenience!]


beethoven writes said...

the licence fee is a constant niggle of mine also. it is however the cheapest bill i pay all year.

what i object to is having to pay towards trashy programmes like eastenders, casualty etc. when i will never ever watch them and cannot sooner turn over with the remote when i hear the theme music come on.

Anonymous said...

Now I would have thought the injured cyclist would have been a big fan of all dramas featuing hospitals.

WL, I guess your Italian is fluent enough to follow local TV, how do their programmes compare to the British ones, I gather some are a bit saucy.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Tom. Yes, I objected to paying for rubbish programmes I didn't watch, too.
Hi, Ellee. I'm an Italian graduate and teacher so the language has never been a problem. A lot of Italian TV is mindless - daft game shows, etc., and sadly, they copy our reality TV which I can't stand. News coverage is good, though and there are interesting political discussion programmes.

Maria said...

Oh wow! $131. a year? We pay in American dollars obviously $130. per month to have a stupid silly tv with 300 hundred channels and never anything on! Ok, it includes my interent access and I am forever grateful but WOW! Please tell me I read this incorrectly some how! ~M
PS. Yes I did say monthly!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, M. Gosh, your TV access sounds expensive to me! It's £131.50 British pounds we pay annually for the licence in Britain; that's about 165 US dollars. You have to pay this whether you watch the BBC or not and most British people think it's a very high fee. There are concessions for pensioners and so on but it is still not enough help. Does the fee you pay include your subscription to all those channels? Here I pay the RAI 99 euros annually to be able to have a TV legally at all, and that is obviously cheaper than the British licence. Then I pay about 400 euros a year to be able to get some British channels and "Sky" films, but that's my choice. I pay my net access separately. It's very interesting to know how different countries operate.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Yes, I think myhearthurts is talking about paying for cable vs. paying for the license. I had no idea you Brits were required to pay the license.

Here in the US, we call it public television and nobody is required to pay anything for it. They get grants from the government, I believe, but mostly they run things with donations from wealthy individuals and foundations, and donations from "viewers like you."

They have fundraiser telethons where they encourage viewers to call in and donate. Public radio does the same thing.


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