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.

Quick Guide

Welcome to our quick and easy reference guide to TV Licensing.

We will keep the information on this page up to date.

If you'd like more information about any of the points mentioned below, then we suggest you search through the TV Licensing Blog archive. Please bear in mind that the information in old archived posts could be out of date and no longer accurate.

If you'd like a handy guide you can read offline, then we suggest you download the latest edition of our free ebook, TV Licensing Laid Bare.

1. What is TV Licensing?
TV Licensing is the trading name used by the companies contracted by the BBC to administer and enforce the TV licence. Capita Business Services Ltd. holds the TV Licensing operations contract. It is by far the largest TV Licensing contractor and has a very broad remit.

The BBC, as statutory Television Licensing Authority, retains full overall responsibility for all matters relating to TV Licensing. The BBC is fully aware of the intimidating tactics employed by TV Licensing. The BBC approves the sinister and deceitful tone of every TV Licensing letter.

2. When is a TV licence needed?
A TV licence is attached to a property rather than an individual. A TV licence is only valid for the address it displays. A property requires a TV licence if either of the following circumstances occur there:
  • Equipment is installed (e.g. plugged in) or used to receive (e.g. watch or record) any TV programmes, on any TV channel, at the same time as they are being broadcast to other members of the general public.
  • Equipment is installed (e.g. plugged in) or used to receive (e.g. watch or download) any on-demand programmes provided by the BBC.
3. When is a TV licence not needed?
A TV licence is not needed for those properties that fall outside the circumstances described above. In particular, a TV licence is not needed to:
  • Watch or download any on-demand programmes other than those provided by the BBC. There is no need for a TV licence to watch or download on-demand programmes on the ITV Hub, All 4, My5 (the on-demand service, not the TV channel), Sky Go, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.
  • Watch or download on-demand content on video sharing sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo etc.
  • Use a TV set to watch pre-recorded DVDs.
  • Use a TV set as a monitor for video games, CCTV etc.
  • Use a TV set to view electronic files (e.g. watch a photo slideshow).
  • Listen to or download radio programmes, including those provided by the BBC.
4. How much is a TV licence?
The current price of a colour TV licence is £147 for up to 12 months of validity. A black & white (monochrome) TV licence costs £49.50, although the number of those licences is declining rapidly. A TV licence is valid from the first day of the month in which it is bought, which means anyone making the mistake of paying for a TV licence at the end of the month might end up getting closer to 11 months of validity instead of the 12 months they have paid for. This is referred to as short-dating.

5. What is the TV licence for?
The TV licence fee funds the creative output of the BBC. The BBC collects around £3.6 bn in TV licence fees every year.

6. I need a TV licence. What should I do?
You should buy one. The law is the law, as ridiculous, ill-conceived and unenforceable as it might be.

7. I do not need a TV licence. What should I do?
If you have no legal need for a TV licence, then do not buy one. People in this situation, who we refer to as legally-licence-free, are under no obligation at all to TV Licensing. They do not need to respond to TV Licensing enquiries and we strongly discourage them from doing so.

8. What will happen if my property doesn't have a valid TV licence?
TV Licensing will want to know why. TV Licensing is a very suspicious organisation, which puts properties into two groups - those that have a valid TV licence and those that should have a valid TV licence but don't. Getting TV Licensing to accept the ever-expanding third group of properties - those that do not legally need a TV licence - is very challenging indeed.

TV Licensing will write to those properties without a TV licence and try to browbeat the occupier into buying one. These reminder letters, which are dubbed threatograms due to their menacing tone, will arrive on a regular basis until either a TV licence is bought, or the occupier caves into TV Licensing's demands for information.

The occupiers of legally-licence-free properties are discouraged from responding to TV Licensing's enquiries. They should not be coerced into paying for a licence they don't legally need, or providing TV Licensing with information to which it is not legally entitled. Whenever a TV Licensing threatogram arrives, simply place it straight in the bin unopened.

9. What happens if I ignore TV Licensing's letters?
Threatograms will continue to arrive on a monthly basis. The tone of these letters will become increasingly forceful and urgent as the months tick by. Eventually a TV Licensing goon may visit your property and seek to establish if a TV licence is needed. TV Licensing goons do not visit every unlicensed property. Because of the way they work, they are far more likely to visit unlicensed properties in an urban area.

10. What happens if I inform TV Licensing that my property doesn't need a TV licence?
It is pointless telling TV Licensing that your property doesn't need a TV licence, as it won't believe you. TV Licensing will acknowledge your claim that no TV licence is needed, but will say that it might send a goon around to check anyway. The threatograms will temporarily stop, but experience tells us that TV Licensing will be hassling you again within the space of a year.

A legally-licence-free person is under no obligation at all to TV Licensing. They should not feel coerced into doing TV Licensing's work for it. Do not submit to TV Licensing's sordid, legally baseless suspicions.

11. What should I do if a TV Licensing goon visits my property?
TV Licensing goons do not have the automatic right of access to any property. Our advice to the legally-licence-free is to immediately identify any unexpected callers to their property and close the door on those from TV Licensing. Remember, the legally-licence-free are under no obligation at all to TV Licensing.

Do not make the mistake of engaging with a TV Licensing goon (on unidentified stranger) on the doorstep. TV Licensing goons earn commission by selling TV licences and nabbing evaders, which can skew their interpretation of the truth.

Dishonest TV Licensing goons are prone to twisting innocent comments like "Yes, I have a TV set that I only use for DVDs" into incriminating comments like "The occupier admitted watching TV". If a TV Licensing goon calls, by far the safest option is to say nothing and close the door.

If you have a camera or smartphone we recommend filming any TV Licensing goon that visits your property. This creates an accurate record of the encounter in case the goon runs away and fabricates a different story. Remember that TV Licensing goons should never be trusted.

12. How does TV Licensing catch people evading the TV licence?
With great difficulty is the honest answer, but that's not what the BBC and TV Licensing want people to believe.

TV Licensing has a big database of addresses provided by Royal Mail. Any address that doesn't have a valid TV licence is flagged up for special attention. TV Licensing send threatograms to those unlicensed addresses in the hope of intimidating the occupiers into buying a TV licence. If that fails TV Licensing might send a goon around in the hope of achieving the same outcome.

TV Licensing can only prosecute people for TV licence evasion when it has clear evidence that they have been receiving TV programmes (or BBC on-demand programmes) without a valid TV licence. They can only get that evidence if the occupier admits unlicensed reception or is caught in the act. If people take our advice of  totally ignoring TV Licensing, neither of those situations is likely to arise.

TV Licensing likes to "big up" the idea of detector vans and search warrants, but in reality these are only used in exceptional circumstances. Information obtained by this blog shows that there were only 167 warrants were granted for the whole UK (and none of those in Scotland) in the financial year 2014/15. Over the same time frame there were only 116 requests to use detection.

13. How can I complain about TV Licensing?
Please see the information in our earlier article. TV Licensing, just like its BBC puppet masters, will never accept that it is in the wrong. It simply doesn't do self-criticism or reflection. If you follow the official complaints route, you can expect to be pissed around for months and ultimately end up getting nowhere. A far better option is to write a letter of complaint to your MP, local newspaper or us!

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