TV licence dodgers nabbed

Six hundred people in Derry have been caught without a valid TV licence in the first six months of 2011.

This compares to 130 people in Strabane, 120 in Limavady and 210 in Omagh.

A colour TV Licence currently costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment. Anyone detected watching TV illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

TV Licensing this week revealed those detected locally are among almost 197,000 people caught across the UK during the first half of this year.

The average licence evasion rate remains at approximately five per cent, meaning almost 95 per cent of properties are licensed correctly.

Deborah King, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “While the vast majority of people in the UK pay their licence fee, to be fair to those who pay, we have to be firm with those who try to get away without paying.

“We take TV Licence evasion very seriously and we will not hesitate to prosecute if people continue to break the law.

“We would always prefer people to buy a TV Licence than risk prosecution and give people every opportunity to pay. However, we do understand some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost, including a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card and monthly Direct Debit scheme, which can all be set up very quickly online.

”TV Licensing launched a new advertising campaign in May to remind people about the different ways to pay for their licence. Part two of the ‘Whatever’s easiest for you’ ad trails will air on BBC channels for the first time this week, highlighting the alternative options to paying all at once.”