Do I need a TV licence?

18 Apr 2019

Family sitting down watching TV

Do I need a need a TV licence?

The TV licence was first introduced in June 1946, and it’s been causing some confusion ever since. Today especially, more and more people are wondering if they even need a TV licence thanks to streaming services and our general TV watching habits. It’s important to know the law when it comes to the TV licence – people caught without one can face a fine of up to £1,000. With that in mind, Hoppy is going to answer all of your burning questions about the TV licence below.

Do I need a TV licence?

If you watch or record programmes as they’re being shown live online or on TV, or if you download and watch BBC programmes through the iPlayer (live, catch up, and on demand) then you need a TV licence.

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing any of the above on a device other than a TV – computer, laptop, phones, etc. – you still need to be covered by a TV licence.

The cost of a TV licence is £154.50 for colour, and £52 for black and white. It’s an annual payment, and you can choose to pay it in full or to spread out the cost; reduced fees are available for those over 74 and those visually impaired. You can pay for your TV licence here.

Do I need a TV licence to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime?

A lot of people who watch TV programmes now use at least some kind of streaming service, with Ofcom reporting that streaming services have overtaken traditional pay TV for the first time.

Many are wondering if they still need a TV licence if they pay for a streaming service. A TV licence is not required when you use streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Now TV, and others, because this is on-demand TV and not streamed as it is broadcast. However, if you use streaming services and also watch TV programmes live, or on iPlayer, then you need to pay for a TV licence. If you're looking to compare TV packages compare with Hoppy.

Do I need a TV licence to watch BBC iPlayer?

You need a TV licence if you wish to watch programmes on BBC iPlayer on any device, not just a TV. This wasn’t always the case, but in 2016 the rules changed to be inclusive of iPlayer services. The full licence price applies to this.

However, you can still watch catch-up TV from other channels without paying for a TV licence.

Do I need a TV licence to watch catch-up TV?

You don’t need a TV licence to watch catch-up TV unless it is using iPlayer.

Don’t confuse catch-up TV with TVCatchup, which offers live broadcasts of free-to-air TV programmes through a web browser or mobile app on your computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, as this does require you to have a TV licence.

Can I have a TV without paying for a TV licence?

You don’t need to have a TV licence if you own a TV but don’t watch live programmes on it. If the TV licensing authority doesn’t have you on its database, you will receive a letter from them asking you to buy a TV licence or declare that you don’t need it. The licensing authority may then send an officer to your property to check that this is the case since 1 in 6 people who say they don’t need a licence actually do.

Do I need a TV licence if I watch TV on devices other than a TV?

Plenty of households today watch television programmes without owning a TV. Thanks to computers, tablets, laptops, and even large-screen phones, not everyone feels the need to own a TV. This, however, doesn’t exempt you from paying a TV licence and if you are using those devices to watch live programmes, then you still have to pay the full fee.

Will I get caught if I watch TV without a TV licence?

The TV licensing authority has a database of 31 million licensed and unlicensed addresses, informing the authority of your household’s status. Should you tell the TV licensing authority that you don’t need a TV licence, then you may get a visit from an officer to confirm this declaration to be true.

Additionally, the TV licensing authority has detector vans that can detect TV receiving equipment at specifically targeted addresses.

There you have it – Hoppy’s guide to understanding whether you need a TV licence. As you can probably tell, the issue has been causing some confusion with the rising popularity of streaming services and a change in TV watching habits. It’s worth understanding how the TV licence works to avoid potentially paying a hefty fine. The key takeaway to remember is: if you’re watching live TV programmes as they’re being broadcast or using the BBC iPlayer, on any device, then you need to pay for a TV licence.

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