Personal Finance

10 things to know about the TV licence

If you are watching live television you need a licence

It doesn’t matter what television channel you are watching if you are watching it when it is broadcast you need a TV licence.

You might still need a licence even if you don’t have a TV

In this modern age calling it a TV licence can be a little confusing, as you don’t actually have to have a TV in order to need a licence.

You need a TV licence if you are watching TV as it is broadcast even if you are watching it on your mobile, laptop or tablet computer.

Watching BBC iPlayer? You still need a licence

If you are watching catch up television only then you may be able to get away without paying for a TV licence. But, if you watch BBC iPlayer then you have to pay for the TV licence.

Record everything? You still need a licence

These days many of us record lots of TV shows and just pick what we want to watch when. Although this means you aren’t watching a programme when it was broadcast, you recorded it at that time, which means you need a TV licence.

Addicted to Netflix and Amazon Prime? You don’t need a licence for that

If you only watch subscription online TV and film services such as Netflix then you don’t need to have a TV licence as you aren’t watching TV as it is broadcast. This also applies to Amazon Prime as long as you don’t have the add-on Amazon Channels service.

Students might not need their own licence

Students who are on a tight budget can legally avoid paying the licence fee if they are very careful about how they watch television.

You can be covered by your parents’ licence – provided they have one – if you only ever watch TV on devices that are “powered solely by their own internal batteries, and aren’t plugged into an aerial or the mains.”

So, charge your laptop unplug and watch what you like.

90% of your licence fee is spent on BBC television

The average monthly charge for a TV licence was £12.13 in 2015/16 with £7.02 of that going to BBC television, £2.06 spent on BBC radio, 83p on BBC World Service, 76p on BBC online services and 67p on licence fee collection.

Pay £1,000 if you are caught short

If you are caught watching TV without a licence you can face a criminal prosecution and a find of up to £1,000.

A TV licence costs £147

A colour TV licence will set you back £147 a year, but you can reduce this if you are prepared to trade in your colour TV for a black and white model. Forego colour and you can get a black and white licence for £49.50.

Over 74? You don’t need a licence

If you are aged 74 or older then you can claim a free TV licence.


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