Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

If you've just arrived here from a search engine, then you might find our Quick Guide helpful.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

TV to Listen to Radio: The Grey TV Licensing Area Remains

The BBC has confirmed it has no documents relating specifically to the use of TV equipment to listen to radio broadcasts, despite previously claiming no licence was required.

You might remember that we previously challenged TV Licensing to clarify this grey area, which suggests that no licence is required when a TV is used to listen to radio stations, despite the equipment being installed in exactly the same way as if TV was being viewed. True to form TV Licensing couldn't provide a simple yes or no answer.

TV Licensing have managed to confirm to us that people were under no obligation to modify any of their equipment to make it incapable of receiving/recording TV signal. That being the case we reasoned that any licence-free person with a digital box installed in the usual manner could legitinately claim radio use without fear of prosecution. We sought confirmatory documents to this effect from the BBC using the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We have just received a response from the BBC, which does little to clarify the situation.

In their response the BBC said: "There are no documents which relate specifically to the TV Licensing requirements for properties where TV equipment is installed/used to listen to radio broadcasts only."

"However, from a trawl of Capita’s document management system which contains all standard policy, procedure and training documents, we have identified a number of documents which make reference to the use of TV equipment to listen to radio broadcasts therefore we have extracted this relevant information."

So it would appear that the BBC, who are the statutory Licensing Authority, has not written anything about this themselves but Capita, who are the hired flunkies with no statutory authority, has written their own policy on it.

Curiously, despite having produced no written policy on it, the BBC feel confident enough to issue FOIA responses on the subject. Where did the BBC employees drafting these responses get their information from? Did they refer to Capita's documents? Is the tail wagging the dog with the BBC following edicts from Capita instead of vice versa?

I find the idea that a company like Capita, who we know have employed numerous undesirables on the TV Licensing contract, are producing their own interpretation of the law worrying in the extreme.


rog_rocks said...

It seems to be a pretty clear and un-grey area to me, from the FOI section of their own website;


the BBC gives this advice;

"Is a TV Licence required for listening to digital radio broadcasts?

A TV Licence is required to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV, regardless of the channel and device being used (e.g. TV, computer, laptop, mobile phone, game console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder), and how it is receive (terrestrial, satellite, cable, via the internet or any other way). You do not need a TV Licence if you only use this equipment to listen to digital radio broadcasts."

I don't think it could be any clearer than that, you don't need one!

admin said...

Thanks for your comment, but you're missing the point slightly.

With current technology it is not possible to install a digital box (Freeview for the sake of argument) to listen to DAB (unlicensable) without also having it installed to view TV channels (licensable). TV Licensing have said no-one is under any obligation to modify and potentially damage their equipment to prevent the reception of licensable TV content.

I am seeking to establish whether someone could legally listen to DAB on their TV without a licence even though they'd break the law if they accidentally flicked to a TV channel.

It is not a straightforward point of law.

rog_rocks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rog_rocks said...


If one only installs a TV to listen to the radio and actually only uses it to listen to the radio as described in their own statement of approval above, the fact that it is capable of receiving broadcast TV is merely incidental.

You wouldn't even consider rushing out to buy a TV license because you bought a mobile phone capable of internet access and hence streaming broadcasting TV as it is broadcast... unless you do actually do it. For them to take you to court and accuse you of buying it and installing it on your person only or partially for the purpose of watching broadcast TV would be ridiculous... and impossible to prove if you don't.

The same applies to all similar equipment such as a TV's in reality a device who's main priority has changed from displaying broadcast TV to just displaying! It is now so capable of displaying so many more things other than being just a TV, just like your mobile phone.

If you don't sign their confession there is nothing they can do, they are nothing more than double glazing salesmen who should be politely asking if you wish to purchase they're services.
If you don't, you don't!

If you accidentally watch it, who cares, it is of no concern to anyone. I would equate that to putting a toe into a field with a no entry sign, it's just taking things too far, the no entry sign shouldn't even be there in the first place.