Living without Auntie

Someone recently asked how I was coping without a TV Licence. That word “coping” gave the impression of struggling with a difficulty. It is definitely the wrong descriptive.

About four months ago I cancelled my TV Licence. This meant I had to follow two simple rules when viewing something on my television: don’t watch (or record) a programme on ANY channel as it is being broadcast; and avoid using the BBC iPlayer.

I anticipated this might be a bit tricky, but it’s been quite the opposite. I hadn’t realised, until adopting the new viewing rules, how often my telly had been switched on. It became a habit to reach for the “on” button as soon as I sat down in the living room. The quality of the programme mattered little, as long as there were moving pictures and sound.

Quality over Quantity

Since July, my gogglebox has been on around 50% less than it used to be. On the flip side, I’ve listened to more radio broadcasts, podcasts and audiobooks in that time. I’ve read more, too. Instead of having current affairs fed to me heavily influenced by the opinion of the broadcaster, I have read a range of articles on topics of interest from a variety of sources, allowing me to to form my own opinion. Quite refreshing.

Of the TV programmes and films I have chosen to watch through my streaming subscription services, I have been astounded (no exaggeration) at the quality of material available. ‘Stranger Things’, ‘The Umbrella Academy”, ‘The Alienist’, and most recently ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ surpassed my expectations by some distance.

Little sign of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

I’ve also realised that virtually everything that is broadcast on non-BBC networks is available on Catch-Up. In Channel 5’s case, often less than an hour after that programme has started on live TV! So, I haven’t missed ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ (CH5), ‘Britain’s Most Historic Towns’ (CH4) or ‘The Undoing’ (SKY).

Many of what would be classed as classic BBC programmes are available away from the BBC too: ‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Poldark’, ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Wallander’ are all on Netflix, for example.

Abide by the Rules

All that said, leaving the BBC suited me and my viewing preferences at this time. For anyone who wants to view live sport (on any channel through any platform), or must see the latest BBC programmes as soon as they come out, ditching the Licence is definitely not for you.

I also would ensure, should you cancel your licence, to adhere to the “no live TV or BBC iPlayer” rule. Otherwise, you are being dishonest. If you stay within what is permitted, even a home visit from the licence enforcers is straightforward. I had such a visit from a polite young man this week, just doing his job. A simple “I don’t need a licence as I don’t watch or record live TV or used the iPlayer” and he was on his way.

Search and Enjoy

On demand, catch-up, streaming and bingeing on box sets is the way forward. Long gone is the notion that you will only watch TV programmes as they are broadcast. Viewing something you have searched out is much more satisfying than accepting the next programme on the schedule. You will watch less TV and find time for reading or listening to the radio – maybe even have a conversation with someone!

“Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions, while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.” David Niven

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