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Detection

http://www.tvlicensing.biz/detection/index.htm

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DETECTION
TV detection: Science Fact or Fiction
The TVLA/BBC/Capita's website [www.tvlicensing.co.uk] states the following on TV detection:
"we can detect a TV in use, in any area. That's because every TV contains a component called
the 'local oscillator', which emits a signal when the television is switched on. It's this signal that
the external aerials on our vans pick up." It also states that hand-held scanner are used to
locate television sets in hard to reach places.
Now, first of all, within the TVLA's fleet of detector vans there are a number of deceptor vans,
making people feel guilty and to have them buy a TV licence when they spot the van.
So what about this 'local oscillator'. What does it do ?
TV's do give off several types of electromagnetic [radio] waves. When switched on, a TV
behaves like a low-powered transmitter. Transmitter ? well, yes ... see picture below ...
... Televisions -and radio receivers for that matter- are so called super heterodyne receivers.
Incoming high frequency signals [the TV channels] are mixed with the TV's internal oscillator
[local oscillator] to produce a lower, fixed-frequency signal [the intermediate frequency of
39.5Mhz] that is used for further processing [audio/video]. Although great care is taken to shield
the local oscillator from the mixer, some of this signal leaks back up the aerial/cable. This signal
is transmitted for a short distance, but far enough to be picked up by the detector vans.

The frequency of the local oscillator is always 39.5Mhz above the channel received. In other
words; the leaking local oscillator signal tells not only whether a TV is switched on or not but it
also reveals what channel is being watched. The following formula gives an indication of the
channel watched:

TV channel detection examples


Example 1.

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Detection

http://www.tvlicensing.biz/detection/index.htm

The [leaked] oscillator signal received is 793.75Mhz. According the formula the frequency of the
TV signal tuned into is as follow:
754.25Mhz = 793.75Mhz - 39.5Mhz
754.25Mhz is within the nationwide channel 56 [751.25Mhz - 757.25Mhz] which happens to be
BBC1
Example 2.
The [leaked] oscillator signal received is 841.75Mhz. According the formula the frequency of the
TV signal tuned into is as follow:
802.25Mhz = 841.75Mhz - 39.5Mhz
802.25Mhz is within the nationwide channel 62 [799.25Mhz - 805.25Mhz] which happens to be
BBC2

Noisemaker !
A TV is also pretty noisy at other frequencies; there is considerable radiation from the timebase
scanning coils. These are driven by a pulsed signal at 14.625Khz and so splatter characteristic
higher frequency harmonics into the ether. They can easily be detected with a long-wave radio
near the TV. The picture below shows three TV set-ups and their point of 'leakage'.

TV detection equipment
BBC Research & Development, Tadworth Surrey [a frequent visitor of this website] is involved
in the development of television detection equipment. The picture below shows a 1997
prototype hand-held television detector unit.

In the annual review report of March 2002 the BBC Research & Development department
claims the following on their latest technological achievements to catch TV Licence dodgers:

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Detection

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"... The new equipment is controlled by a computer, which presents a very user-friendly
interface to the operator. The detection results and all relevant data are recorded automatically.
We have added a satellite based live map navigation system which helps minimise the time
spent travelling between sites, as well as an automated database showing receivable
transmitters at the van s location. The equipment can show which transmitter is being received,
and which channel is being viewed. The van will be in frequent contact with TV Licensing Unit s
database to check whether the viewer has a current licence. All of the equipment is contained
within the van without exterior aerials. This offers the choice of covert operation, or alternately
of high-profile operation simply by emblazoning the van with an appropriate logo. We are
working with BBC Technology to produce a fleet of vans with the new equipment; meanwhile,
the development and testing of a further detection method nears completion. Portable detection
equipment includes a handheld magnetic detector designed for use where van access is
impracticable, and a shirt-pocket equivalent for covert operation."

A TV Detection display screen showing


computer generated graphs.

It is BBC Research & Development, in conjunction with Capita, to select a company to take
prototype equipment into production.
Click any of the pictures below addressing TV Detection vans.

The 50's

Modern TV
Detection van

TV Detection van
in action

Snapshot from a BBC Research and Development


publication about the latest technology used in TV
Detection vans

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Detection

http://www.tvlicensing.biz/detection/index.htm

TVL promotional material [I]

TVL promotional material [II]

Lassy the cow


Despite all of the expensive gadgets developed by BBC R&D detection of TV Licence evasion
depends heavily on an address based system [database called "Lassy"], so if you're not on their
supposedly exhaustive list, they nip round, listen really carefully at the door and bust you if they
hear Anne Robinson's voice.
Another way of telling someone has got a TV is by aerial spotting. Apparently there is this story
about a tv detector man claiming someone had a tv because of the aerial, the man then replied
"just cos' I've got milk on me door step doesn't mean I've got a cow."
In addition to the Lassy database, the TVLA/Capita has a database called the Campaign
Management Data Warehouse [CMDW]. The CMDW holds records of recent "customer"
contacts and demographic information on Postcodes, obtained from third parties. This
information is held and used for the purpose of segmentation of mailing activity. For example if
a certain postcode is likely to contain student residences, then a special targeted letter, might
be mailed to address in the postcode area.

Then again...
The National Audit Office Report of May 2002 [PDF file, 792K] states the following on
detector vans: "the BBC is introducing new detector vans with enhanced capabilities to detect
when a television is in use. This will make it easier for enquiry officers to establish that an
offence is likely to be taking place, although they will still need to secure further evidence for
successful prosecution. Detection equipment has been used in conjunction with targeted
advertising to act as a visible deterrent."

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In other words: detection-evidence only is not good enough for a conviction.

TEMPEST [looking beyond the local oscillator]


This is where we step into the twilight zone. Not sure if the TVLA has 'toys' to be this intrusive ...
TEMPEST [Telecommunications Electronics Material Protected From Emanating Spurious
Transmissions] is an U.S. government code word that identifies a classified set of standards for
limiting electric or electromagnetic radiation emanations from electronic equipment. Microchips,
monitors, printers, and all electronic devices emit radiation through the air or through
conductors [such as wiring or water pipes].
The emission of electromagnetic radiation [EMR] from computer equipment can be used to
reconstruct data. Sometimes referred to as 'Van Eck Phreaking' after Dutch scientist Wim van
Eck who in 1985 demonstrated that he could pick up emissions from a VDU [video display unit]
and display on a TV monitor.
Electromagnetic Radiation from Video Display Units: An Eavesdropping Risk?
This is Van Eck's paper [in PDF-format] that brought emanation monitoring to the public's
attention. It's pretty technical stuff.

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