Man With No TV Forced to Pay NIS 5,000 License Fine

A driver was pulled over by Israel Broadcasting Authority officials yesterday and forced to pay NIS 4,980 in television license fees on threat of having his car impounded and driver's license confiscated - even though he does not own a television set.

Steve Goodman of Zichron Yaakov told the IBA officials from the debt collection department that he has not owned a television set since he immigrated to Israel from the United States in 1996. He said the officials responded that the fine, calculated on the basis of six years of television license fees plus accrued fines, must be paid because he had never made a declaration that he does not own a television.

"They extorted money from me without proving that I had any obligation to pay, and now I have the burden of fighting to get my money back," said Goodman, who had been driving on Road 4 to his office in Haifa when he was pulled over.

"I just feel so helpless," he said, adding that one of the IBA officials told him there was no way he could retroactively declare that he did not have a television when he received the fine yesterday.

IBA spokesman Oren Helman yesterday could not explain Goodman's fine. He said the IBA does not collect fees from those without a television and that officials would check into Goodman's case. When debtors persistently avoid paying their license fees, the IBA is entitled by law to seize property, including bank accounts, wages and cars, Helmer added.