Imagine having to pay a license fee for the right to own a television. If you live in Britain you don’t need to imagine, because you are required by law to pay a fee of over $200 annually to the BBC. The BBC collected over $7.5 billion from the fee in 1993. This might have made sense when the BBC was the only thing available, but there is much more choice now, yet other broadcasters do not share in the fee.
If you don’t own a television, you will be forced to prove it, and may face a visit from the television police. Failure to pay may get you a $2,000 fine or jail. When I was a kid I spent some time in Scotland with my mom’s parents, and I can remember reading about the television detector vans.
In North America we don’t pay a license fee. We just pay for cable television.
(Link from Asymmetrical Information)