Threat of £1,000 fine for £1 TV licence shortfall


By Shaun Milne

TELLY licensing chiefs have warned a stunned Scots viewer he could be fined £1000 for watching his favourite shows – after falling just £1 short on his bill.

Shaviji Puri, 50, from Edinburgh, thought he had settled his account for £141.50 using a payment card.

But TV Licensing sent him a ‘final notification’ telling him he was viewing TV illegally and would be subject to £1000 fine if caught.

Mr Puri, a support worker from Liberton, said he called them back as soon as he got the letter after learning he still had to pay off the final £1.

However they refused to take the cash – insisting they first had to refund him before they could accept the full settlement.

And they warned if he used his TV meantime – he’d be breaking the law.

Stunned Shaviji said: “It was a shock to suddenly get this. When I phoned them up, they just didn’t listen.

“Why would I risk £1000 fine to save £1?

“I don’t like having no licence. I’m worried someone will come round and fine me.”

The refunded cheque arrived last week – seven days after he called.

But he faces another eight days for it to clear before he can stump up again for a new licence.

Until then he is banned from watching telly.

The letter with his refund warned: “As our records show that there is still no valid TV licence for this address, your property will be subject to a visit by our enforcement officer.

“If they find evidence you are continuing to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV, you may be prosecuted, which could result in you paying a fine of up to £1000.”

Bosses at TV Licensing say they had tried to contact Mr Puri several times before the short-fall was highlighted because of a problem with his payment card – a system that helps users spread the cost over several months.

A spokesman said: “We had contacted Mr Puri several times since June 2009 to inform him the account would be closed if the balance was not settled.

“On 21 November we wrote to Mr Puri to inform him that this had now happened and enclosed a cheque refunding him all money save to that point.

“Mr Puri is currently unlicensed.

“We hope he will contact us again soon to make sure he is correctly licensed.”

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