Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 14:26 UK

Edmonds begins TV licence boycott


Noel Edmonds says he has cancelled his TV licence

Presenter Noel Edmonds has stopped paying his TV licence fee as he does not like the BBC's "threatening" manner towards those who do not have licences.

"Auntie's put boxing gloves on. I'm so incensed by the idea that I'm guilty of something that I actually cancelled my licence fee a few months ago," he said.

No organisation would threaten him, he added. "They haven't found me, and nobody's come knocking on the door."

TV Licensing said "the law was clear" that evaders risked a 1,000 fine.

A spokesperson said a "comprehensive database of almost 30 million addresses allows us to see exactly which properties are unlicensed".

"While we would always prefer people buy a licence rather than risk prosecution and a fine, TV Licensing has a duty to enforce the licence fee on behalf of the honest majority who pay.

"Unfortunately some people will only buy a licence when warned of the consequences of being unlicensed."

'Astonishing value'

Edmonds, a former BBC Radio 1 breakfast DJ and host of BBC TV shows such as Noel's House Party, said there was now "an aggressive culture" in the UK.

"There are too many organisations - and the BBC is a fabulous organisation - that seem to think it's OK to badger, hector and threaten people," he told BBC One's Breakfast.

We all have to care a bit more. We have a society where we blame someone else when something goes wrong
Noel Edmonds

"I worked for the BBC for 30 years.

"When I was at the BBC, it promoted the licence fee by saying how wonderful it was because - let's face it - the BBC licence fee is astonishing value," the 59-year-old added.

Now, however, the BBC said "we know where you are" in campaigns to avoid evasion, he claimed. About one in 20 viewers failed to pay the 139.50 charge in 2007-8.

This week the BBC announced it was giving its audiences the chance to say if they thought the way the fee was collected, and the deterrents for evaders, were appropriate.

Sir Michael Lyons, who chairs the BBC Trust governing body, said there needed to be a "balance" between "ensuring compliance and avoiding any disproportionate heavy-handedness".

Noel Edmonds in 1976
Edmonds spent 30 years at the BBC, with a spell as Radio 1's breakfast DJ
Asked to respond to Edmonds' boycott, the BBC avoided commenting directly on his remarks.

But it issued a statement referring to the public consultation and said: "We would really encourage people to be part of that."

Edmonds was using his interview to promote his new Sky 1 series Noel's HQ, which he said would be responsible for good deeds which would improve people's lives.

"The politicians - and I'm talking about Gordon Brown - have had their day," he said.

"They've had their chance to do it and look at the mess we're now in."

He explained it was "down to the man in the street, individuals, every single person watching us this morning, to say, 'Well, what did I do today for Britain? What did I do for people I don't know?'"

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