TV Licensing Laws

TV Licensing Laws

TV Licensing laws are already in effect for watching television in your own home (the same also applies to businesses who use a television).
The majority of television viewing is done via a TV set. Research has shown that 96.7% of households in the UK own a TV set, and that only 0.2% of people choose to watch television exclusively online.
In general evasion of TV Licensing laws is low; approximately 5%, therefore around 95% of eligible households are licensed correctly. Those who choose to supplement their standard TV viewing by also watching TV online will already be covered by there existing licence, however some of the 0.2% who exclusively watch TV online are not.

Do TV licensing laws apply when watching BBC iPlayer and other services like this?

Yes, and no! If you do not already have a TV licence and are watching or recording programmes as they are being shown on TV but via the BBC iPlayer (or similar) then YES you would need to be covered by a TV licence.
If you are watching or downloading programmes that have already been broadcast via iPlayer or other internet services then NO, a TV licence is not required.
Anyone watching live TV via iPlayer or similar will be notified of these regulations. If you are watching catch up TV or pre-broadcast programmes no notification will appear and a licence is not required.

Do I need a TV licence to view TV on my smartphone?

If you watch or record TV programmes as they are being broadcast (live) you would need to be covered by a TV licence, although if the household already has a TV licence you are already covered.
If you watch live TV on the phone away from home and the phone is plugged into mains, the premises would need a TV licence for you to legally watch live TV on your phone there.

Could I be prosecuted for watching TV on my laptop without a licence?

People are caught without licences watching TV and any equipment other than a normal TV set. So yes, you could be prosecuted leading to a court appearance and a fine of up to £1000 excluding legal costs. Do not take the chance and contact TV Licensing if in doubt.

What constitutes a live broadcast?

Depending on the device being used to receive the TV signal, there may sometimes be a slight delay between broadcast and receipt. This delay is irrelevant to the fact that you are attempting to watch or record a programme as it is being broadcast, so a TV licence is needed. The legislation that covers TV licensing in the UK does not give a specific time for what is considered as ‘live’, as the definition is based on intent rather than the action.

What if I use a computer to watch a DVD?

You do not require a TV licence to watch pre recorded DVD’s on any mobile device or computer.

How can I prove I only watch DVD’s or pre-recorded TV on my computer and online?

You can take steps to prove you do not receive TV signals. If you inform TV licensing of this then you may subsequently receive a visit by an enquiry officer to back up your claim. The majority of claims are genuine however reports show that 1 in 8 people do in fact need a licence after first claiming they didn’t need one. If you cannot prove that you cannot receive TV signals, you will need to pay for a licence.

How does YouView affect my TV licence?

No change in the law is necessary as currently people are required to be licensed to receive programmes they are shown on TV, and YouView would require a set top box which is licensable already.

Disclaimer: Need a Solicitor.com Ltd does not accept responsibility for any changes to legislation after this article was published (November 2012) or the mis-interpretation of this information. Need a Solicitor.com recommends that anyone who needs up to date information about TV Licencing and the legislation surrounding licences visit TV Licensing direct.