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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Millions face TV licence change
Post Office
Post Offices have sold TV licences for the last 60 years

Five million people who buy their TV licence at the Post Office must change their habits when its deal with the BBC ends on 31 July.

In future, licences will be available from Paypoint outlets in newsagents, petrol stations and supermarkets or can be purchased online, by post or phone.

People will also no longer be able to save for their licence through special stamps available at the Post Office.

Instead, savers will be given a plastic card which they can "top up" at Paypoint outlets or over the phone.

Existing stamps can be taken into a Post Office until 31 July with the new swipe card and credit will be transferred across.

After that point, the transfer can still be made but must be done by post instead.

We want to provide better value for money in the way that we collect the TV licence
Chris Reed, TV licensing
Chris Reed, spokesman of TV licensing explained the reasons for the changes to BBC Radio 4's Money Box.

"We want to make it easier for people to pay and also we want to provide better value for money in the way that we collect the TV licence. [It will] save about 100m over six years," he said.

"What we are doing is changing the contract to Paypoint which is in fact a bigger network than the Post Office."

He said Paypoint has over 15,000 outlets across the UK and are bringing on another 2,000 outlets by 2007. And he added that many of the outlets will be open 10 to 11 hours a day, seven days a week.

But despite this, not everyone is happy with the change.

Electronic footprint

BBC Radio 4's Money Box listener Sharon was sent one of the new cards.

She told the programme she was angry because she never asked for it and was concerned about privacy issues.

For all I know they are going to use it to make up consumer profiles
Sharon, consumer
"I was never given the opportunity to tick a box and say I don't want my details passed to anyone else and it was also linked with a Paypoint system, so presumably they have my details as well," she said.

"It will be another electronic footprint - for all I know they are going to use it to make up consumer profiles and they could hand this data onto a third party."

But Chris Reed from TV licensing was quick to reassure her.

"We would never disclose that data to a third party for direct marketing purposes, nor would we use that data to gather information about a person's spending patterns and pass it on to a third party," he said.

"I can give people an absolute assurance that the information that we gather will be used solely for the purposes of TV licensing.

"All of our agents must act in accordance with our instructions and there are strict contractual rules in place. That absolutely includes Paypoint. It is us that has access to that data, not them."

For more information on the different ways to pay and for details of your nearest Paypoint outlet, visit the TV licensing website below.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 8 July, at 1204 BST and was repeated on Sunday, 9 July, at 2102 BST.

Chris Reed from TV Licensing talks about the changes

Post Office loses TV licence deal
31 Mar 06 |  Entertainment


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