Saying No to Television

Saying No to Television

Not so much about being anti TV. More about asking yourself why you watch it in the first place and if a TV license is something you really need.

People are always surprised when I tell them I don’t have a television. The other day at work…

Colleague: I couldn’t believe it; it was Josh SOMEONE or other.

Me: Who?

Colleague: Josh SOMEONE or other, you know, on the Josh Factor…

Me: The Josh Factor? Saying their name won’t make me know who they are; I don’t have a TV.

Colleague: No, but wait, you don’t have a TV!?! [the usual dramatically emphatic reaction I get. Must be from a TV show.]

Me: No, I don’t have a TV.

Colleague: I couldn’t live without a TV….

Stop. Sure you can. You just choose not to. Difference. Period.

Roald Dahl sticker by Bookish Stickers on Etsy.

In the UK, you are required to pay for a TV license. When I first arrived here I stayed with people or moved into houses already established with a television, so I never had to pay for the license. It’s expensive to have one and, if you want to watch TV, an effort not to; to watch TV without a license you’d have to be prepared for an unexpected knock at the door and pretending you’re not home. This tickles my fancy, in a way. It reminds me of the Young Ones episode where the lads evade the TV license man and Vivian has to eat the television, as opposed to the television eating you.

It seems to me that television is mostly full of distracting, mind-numbing, colourful, loud and bewildering crap, along with a helluva lot of propaganda. To be fair, I love my fair share of crap. My brother (who has quite underground tastes) introduced me to ‘Come Dine With Me’ and it was utterly addictive genius. I watched the complete series of this year’s ‘Apprentice’ (thanks, Lord Sugar). With my old flatmate’s help I even sat through an entire series of ‘Big Brother’ along with home made hats and Sunday evening get-togethers around the TV. Well done, Em.

I like bad television viewing as well as brilliant documentaries, music shows, sitcoms, and all the rest that TV brings us. But I don’t see what the £150 TV licence price tag (on top of my taxes towards the BBC) really gives me. I just don’t think it’s value for money. I don’t care if it’s for one whole year, and I don’t even care if that works out to £12.50 a month, £2.89 a week or £0.41 a day in a non leap year.

I just. Don’t. Care.

Things I could do with £150

I could buy a beautiful bit of artwork by a local artist to beautify my surroundings, support local industry and artists and possess something unique that noone else has (unlike a television). I could put my artwork where the TV used to be.

I could buy a return trip to somewhere in Europe, broadening my horizons to experience another language, food, culture. I could have an adventure. I could take loads of pictures (at the risk of boring my friends and family, since looking at photos is never the same as being there. Just like watching TV).

I could explore my town. It’s so full of many amazing talks, events, pop ups, and experiences. Imagine how many of these you could have in one year on £150… dinners out and drinks and quiz nights at the local with mates.

I could donate £150 either directly to one charity, or split it to many different charities. It could make such a difference, all you’d have to do is give up watching the X Factor finale live.

Don’t be duped by the need for a TV. Here’s a secret; you don’t have to watch things live. The best way to watch things live is to BE THERE! If it’s really important to you to see something live you can spend the £150 you saved on your TV license to book travel/accommodation and pay for the tickets to the show…

I pay a little each month for internet access. It works out as the same price as a TV license and means I can watch anything I want via iPlayer and the like. It’s official: you do not need a TV license to watch programmes in iPlayer. It’s not live to air, so I’m not locked in to being in one place at a certain time; I can watch it when I want. In fact, I can access a show five minutes after it’s finished. Without a television. When I did have a television, I always had this horrible feeling that I had just missed something and was currently missing something on another channel. Now that source of anxiety is removed. I have to think about what I want to watch and that has made me watch less and watch better. My local, independent, non-chain video store has such reasonable prices and a huge selection that I would rather spend £150 there, maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone wins, sans television.

It’s a deliciously chilly autumnal afternoon in London where I live. My pocket is slightly heavier with the savings I’ve made. I’d probably turn the TV on if I had one, but I think I’ll just wrap up warm and go for a walk in the park instead.

This will never happen because television loves us and it is our friend. Also, it’s not really into jogging.