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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
TV licence protester 'must pay'
A Sunday Times columnist has been told by a judge that he must pay the television licence fee, which he said breached his human rights.

Jonathan Miller, 51, was fined 150 at Guildford Magistrates Court on Wednesday and ordered to pay 100 costs, but he is now considering taking his case to the High Court.

The journalist announced a year ago that he would no longer be paying the licence fee, which funds the BBC, saying it was "anachronistic, unfair and cruel".

He was visited by officials from the TV Licensing Authority and warned that he faced a fine if he continued to watch television with paying the fee.

I am not against public broadcasting, but the BBC is a very poor public broadcaster
Jonathan Miller
The columnist refused and was prosecuted under the terms of the 1949 Wireless and Telegraphy Act.

Miller pleaded not guilty to the offence, claiming the fee - 116 for a colour television - was unlawful and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

He has argued in newspapers and on his website that many licence fee payers are funding channels which they do not watch, saying they cannot afford to or do not have the necessary technology.

But on Wednesday, district judge Caroline Tubbs rejected Miller's defence and said it was not open to the magistrates' court to quash the licensing regulations.

Attack methods

Miller said he has received thousands of letters of support.

Despite the defeat, he said he would continue to use "whatever methods I can" to attack the fee.

"I am not against public broadcasting, but the BBC is a very poor public broadcaster," he said.

A spokesman for the TV Licensing Authority, which works for the BBC under contract to collect the licence fee, said: "We are pleased that the judge has confirmed that TV licence regulations are consistent with the Human Rights Act."

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