Do I need to pay a TV License 2023?

TV License Visit scheduled

Well lads, this is a question that comes up a lot and there is lots of misinformation regarding this subject which I hope to up date you on in this article. For me its an important cost saver each month or year not to pay a TV License, but you can end up in a sticky situation if you do not handle the process correctly and fully within the year, so to avoid someone from TV Licensing turning up at your door and giving them the wrong information when they ask please keep reading.

Who pays for a TV License in the UK?

In the days prior to online media, streaming and the digital world, which the TV license was created for this simply meant watching a TV via analogue signal on the box in the corner of your living room or down the pub, but these days it applies to anyone who watches a live TV program anywhere and on any service.

The type of device you watch TV with doesn’t make a difference, whether its on a PS5, Xbox, chrome cast or on your mobile phone, if its live its licensable. In basic terms you cannot avoid the fee if you plan to watch any form of live TV in the UK. Even if the TV is watched from abroad and your watching live TV from France, Portugal, Brazil or anywhere if its live its free?

Examples of regular live TV use in the UK Amazon Prime live TV, watching the news online, watching football on BT sport (even with someone else account) or even using a satellite dish, simply put if you choose to watch live TV you are required to pay the TV license.

What can I watch without paying a TV License?

Well lads, this is the question we all want answered and its very simple if you limit yourself to on demand streaming i.e pre recorded programs such as on Amazon Prime, Disney plus, Netflix etc and watch on purely streaming basis you do not need a TV License, but you need to let the TV Licensing people know to avoid them turning up at your door.

One small error people make is watching iPlayer on demand which a BBC service, due to the nature of BBC iPlayer you have to have a TV License to use this service, however its unlikely you will miss out on BBC’s a grade content as most sitcoms, documentary’s and drama will end up being distributed to other streaming services such a Britbox, Netflix and even amazon, who all buy later rights to shows produced by the BBC.

Does this apply to radio?

In the past there was a seperate license which has led to the myth that you need a TV license to listen to radio but if you are a private resident you do not need a TV license to listen to radio, however businesses are still liable for PRS and PPL licenses. This includes “BBC Sounds” which is all the BBCs radio channels and many other commercial radio stations such as Heart Radio, Capital and Planet rock.

How much is a TV License?

A TV License costs £159 for colour TV, and £53.50 for black and white, yes there’s a seperate free for black and white (for some archaic reason) and is required if you watch any from of live TV, no matter the device, method or country of origin.

But of course if you are only streaming on demand excluding BBC iPlayer, this is completely and 100% legally free.

Who do I inform if I do not need to pay for a TV License?

Firstly, you do not need to tell anyone however it best to do so, otherwise you might be sent bill, have an enforcement officer turn up at your door or receive an unwarranted bill that could be escalated through the courts. Secondly lads, you should tell the TV Licensing authority just to avoid the hassle this should be done via the website by completing a form called “NLN (No Licence Needed) declaration” if you have paid in advance you will reimbursed. You can register for no license by following this link https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/telling-us-you-dont-need-a-tv-licence, unfortunately you will have the monotonous task of doing this every two years.

How does enforcement work?

Details on this are sketchy because the TV Licensing authority decided to remove the guidance as it may help people who genuinely need to pay avoid paying a license however what is known an unknown number of people will visit you address attempt to get information, gather evidence and even attempt to enter your property, this is contracted out to a company called captia and they do not have enforcement rights. They can also attend if you have registered as not needing license.

Its important to be aware these are just your average joes just trying to earn a living and there’s no need to be hostile with them, you just need to advise them that you do not watch live TV and if you choose to let them in your property which I would not they will look for evidence I.E sky boxes, freeview boxes etc.. they may even attempt to watch your TV. Its also worth noting if they see through your window and your watching the TV or the hear a TV playing when you answer the door the may use this evidence.

You can be prosecuted for watching TV without a licence, and fined up to £1,000 ( or up to £2,000 in Guernsey) and you will still owe the original bill, as there is a legal requirement for this you can also be jailed (but this is for not paying the fine and is rare).

Roughly the BBC believe that one in six people who register for not needing a license actually need one, so to limit the risk you need to be compliant with the requirements for not needing a license

What do I do if I no longer need a license?

Simply remove any old free boxes, disconnect your Ariel from your TV and do not watch live TV on your games console, computers, phone, tv and other devices. I personally do not have an ariel socket in my house so receiving digital TV would be hard, but either way you may need to prove you do not need a license in the future, so its better to be careful.

Will this really save me money?

In real terms it will save you £159 per year or £13.25 by not having a TV License but this may be outweighed by the cost of subscribing to multiple other services, I personally have Amazon prime (however this can be used for other Amazon services at £8.99 per month and Netflix which is £4.99 per month which is more in total than TV License, but I prefer the content and do not like live TV anywhere, but its worth noting if you getting rid one one to replace with the others its unlikely to save you any penny’s. If you have both and do not really watch TV this could be a genuine cost saver.

Lads, I hope this helped you out, if you have any questions drop a comment. – Money Lad

Information correct as of 10th of April 2023

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