Hike in number of NW viewers done for TV licence evasion

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Two hundred and sixty five prosecutions for TV licence evasion were either dropped or thrown out in Londonderry last year, a whopping 60 per cent year-on-year increase.

The figures were uncovered by anti-licence fee campaigner Caroline Levesque-Bartlett, who has obtained the details of prosecutions in the area through a Freedom of Information request.

She learned that, of 912 such cases taken against suspected licence fee evaders in Londonderry, there were 646 convictions.

Mrs Levesque-Bartlett found that there were a lot more prosecutions for TV-licence evasion in 2015 compared with 2014 when there were 561. There were also more convictions: 646 compared with 395 in 2014. But this also meant there was a huge increase in the number of cases thrown out.

In 2014 there were 166 unsuccessful prosections but in 2015 this had risen by 60 per cent to 265.

Mrs Levesque-Bartlett said: “This year’s is special. We are celebrating 70 years of government endorsed extortion. Since June 1946, no one was able to think of a way of funding the BBC that would not involve a choice, for those who want to opt out, between withholding all TV channels and criminal sanctions.”

She called for the licence fee to be scrapped and has launched a petition calling for a debate on its future

“If certain channels disagree, they go subscription, not withhold access to all other free channels.”