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.

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Monday, 4 August 2008

TV Licensing Law

The current legislation governing the television licence is the Communications Act 2003.

The law requires that a licence is obtained for any device that is "installed or used" for "receiving a television programme at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public".

According to TV Licensing, the body tasked with overseeing the licensing process, "You need a TV licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV".

The 2003 Act states that a licence is required for the reception of any TV signal regardless of where it originates. This closes a previous loophole where the reception of TV signals from the continent (or further) was exempt.

Crucially, a licence is not required for:
  • Digital boxes used with a hi-fi system or another device that can only be used to produce sounds.
  • Television sets installed and used solely for some purpose other than watching or recording television programmes (e.g. closed-circuit TV monitor, DVD or video player or games console).
  • Watching on-demand programmes apart from those on the BBC iPlayer.
  • Merely owning television receiving or recording equipment.
A licence is required to watch live TV broadcasts anywhere, including residential and business premises. From 1st September 2016 a TV licence is also required to receive on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer.

For residential premises, only one licence is required per household per address, regardless of the number of licensed devices or the number of members of the household.

A rented property with joint occupancy is considered a single property and requires only one licence.

In a rented property of multiple occupancy (e.g. each person has their own tenancy agreement) the tenant will require their own licence if they are using a television in their room. Such a property would need an additional licence to cover any television set in a communal area.

Use of television in a static caravan is covered by the licence held for the user's main address, provided there is no simultaneous use of television at both places, and the use of television in a touring caravan is always covered by the user's main home licence.

The use of a television set which is powered solely by its own internal batteries is covered for any address by the user's main home licence, but requires a separate licence if it is plugged into the mains or other external power source, such as a car battery: this also applies to TV-enabled mobile telephones.

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Edit (1/9/2016): The post has been updated to reflect the recent changes in legislation. From today a TV licence is needed if a person wishes to receive on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer.

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ray266 said...

i have just found out that my son was fined and paid £250 for use of a tv when visiting a house with his son as a witness the owner of that dwelling went out when he opened the door to a lone tv detector person who after a visual check who took my sons name and address at no stage prior or during the visit was any tv or equipment as described in warning tv letters where switched on to receive or transmit signals

Unknown said...

I do not have a TV and I do not watch TV in my home. This house was empty when I bought it so I know that there has been no TV here for at least a year.

TV Licensing sent a letter to "The Present Occupier" at my address which insists "ACTION REQUIRED IMMEDIATELY" simply because there is "no TV License at your address". They demand that I either buy a TV License of tell them I have no TV. The letter threatened the visit of "Enforcement Officers" at my home if I do not comply. Who do they think they are - the Mafia?

As you might expect, I was disgusted and very angry that they evidently believe it acceptable to dictate people's actions according to their own convenience and to attempt to intimidate people in their own homes. I refuse to be bullied or forced to do what I believe they have no right to demand. I am an honest citizen minding my own business in my own home.

I'm not aware of any legal requirement to tell TV Licensing that I have no TV, nor do they claim there is! However, a subsequent letter again refers to the law of requiring a TV License, fines, etc. and - because I haven’t responded - their "Enforcement Officers" will call.

I have found no reference to any legal requirement for me to state I have no TV, either on the TV Licensing web-site or anywhere else! I do not plan to be intimidated into taking action that they have no right to demand nor be put on yet another database. The BBC for which TV Licensing collects fees is supposed to be a public institution! So much for Auntie Beeb!

I would like to know if anyone has a particular knowledge of any relevant law, and also just how blunt I can legitimately be in putting a flee in their ear when they call.

TV Licensing are DISGUSTING.

Anonymous said...

i noticed its an act of law not actual law, these are two totally different,
even police get this wrong, on many occations,
excluding that
check out john harris, no tv licence, http://www.tpuc.org/node/609

he explains your legal rights and why they can not demand money, the t/l are corrupt,

Admin said...

An Act of Parliament is the law. It gets written on the Statute books, hence people talking about "statutory requirements" and "Statute law".

As much as I despise TV Licensing I dislike these "freemen" who think they know the law, but actually know fuck all, even more.

Dave said...

I have searched and searched for an answer to my question, but have never found a definitive answer, so I'm hoping somebody here can help me! (Apologies if I am just being thick, though, and the answer is on here somewhere!)

Anyway, if I have a tv set installed, ie plugged in, with cable service attached, but I never actually watch it, do I still need a licence?

The tv licensing site doesn't make any mention of 'installed', only watching or recording live broadcasts.

If a tv licensing goon came to my house and turned my tv on (not that I would let him in anyway) he would see that my tv is capable of receiving live broadcasts, even though I never watch it. Surely, though, he would need to actually catch me watching live tv, not just find that I was capable of watching live tv?

I do very, very occasionally watch something on iPlayer, which I understand I don't need a licence for, but if I have to detune my tv to show that it is not 'installed' how would I then watch iPlayer?

Many thanks in advance for any light anybody can shed on this for me.

Great site by the way! Keep fighting the good fight! :)


Anonymous said...

An "Act" is a "... written ordinance of Parliament, Congress, etc." whereas a law is "a rule or system of rules recognized by a country or community as regulating the actions of its members and enforced by the imposition of penalties."

Acts are made by the consensus between the two parts of a bicameral legislature for example, a law however may (for example in the United Kingdom) be made by an "enabling act" allowing a government minister to make sets of rules sometimes compiled with experts in the field, impracticable to do in Parliament.

An advantage of delegated legislation are that it can include local laws for local people. One disadvantage however is that it is not democratic and so are usually repealed after an Act of Parliament is made.

An "Act" is an action made by a legislature, a "law" is a wider term for any rules of governance

Admin said...

Thank you for your comment Anon. We do not subscribe to the FMOTL ideology.

Anonymous said...


I don't have a TV license, haven't had one for years, haven't watched live TV progammes for years, so I don't need one.

Over the years I have received letters from the BBC license enforcers – usually at least 6 a year which go unopened into my shredder then the recycle bin.

A few days ago someone called at my home, didn't get an answer so they put one of their letters through my letter box. I did read the letter this time, just to see what this particular letter says. I try not to engage with the enforces and thankfully my doorbell doesn't work so this helps a bit but I am prepared for when and if I happen to be caught unawares and have encounter one of them.

I also had a look on the legislation.gov.uk website at the relevant legislation – as you rightly stated its the Communications Act 2003 – Part 4 Section 363 to be precise.

I then looked at section 411 Short title, commencement and extent - which deals with what parts of the Act come into force and when, but couldn't find any mention of when section 363 comes into force.

For readers who don't know Statutes (Acts of Parliament) must state when the Act or parts of it come into force.

Many Acts don't start straight away, or not all parts of the Act start at the same time and the Act must clearly state when the Act comes into force or when various parts come into force. If not further legislation (secondary legislation) must be made (commencement orders) to bring into force other parts of the Act.

So I tried to find the relevant commencement order but can't find it.

I'm only mentioning the coming into force part of the legislation as to cover all angles, just in case of some oversight by the government because if an order wasn't made then section 363 is null and void.

I agree with Dave who says " I have found no reference to any legal requirement for me to state I have no TV"

Why is the BBC allowed to get away with hounding people , and other sorts of abysmal behaviour - it has to stop.

Great site, much appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Admin I respect for what you are doing and your site, but im afraid your wrong with your comment ‘An Act of Parliament is the law. It gets written on the Statute books, hence people talking about "statutory requirements" and "Statute law".

As much as I despise TV Licensing I dislike these "freemen" who think they know the law, but actually know fuck all, even more.’

Not to mention rude.

Statutes and acts are NOT law and the nor never will be, indeed the legal definition of an act is ‘RULE’

With regard to your post and the warrant and if its legal and lawful there’s a wee flaw in what you wrote..

My partner is a retired lawyer and she says that you could question if the warrant is actually legal as its given under an ACT which is only given the power of the law with the consent of the governed. Now they could claim that they have implied consent by owning a TV but that wont wash as a TV can be used for more than just to watch live tv which you don’t need a licence for I.e watching Tv’s or DVD’s so they cant use the ‘implied consent’ crap.

Also the warrant has to have a wet ink signature from a judge, also an affidavit with the evidence which obtained the warrant must be shown to the person receiving the warrant.

Also since the police are there we should question why the police are attending a civil matter. The have no authority to execute the warrant nor when they arrest the victim under an obstruction claim is that lawful as that do’s not constitute obstruction for the victim refusing to sign anything.

Chapter 16, Section 2 of the TV Licensing Visiting Procedures (which is usually redacted by the BBC) states the following in bolded print: "NB - a refusal to provide name, to cooperate with the interview or to otherwise be "difficult" does not amount to an obstruction of the warrant". As noted on this very site!

There is also a question of how they are actually getting prosecutions here as the wording of the law and BBCS and TV licensing state that you do not need a licence to actually own a TV just watching live TV so coming in and seeing if the TV even if tuned in is NOT proof that they have been watching it! Its like having a fishing rod in the shed without a licence that you don’t need as you haven’t been fishing for the last 10 years!

My partner says its shocking that that magistrates are prosecuting people when they clearly don’t know or understand the actual law.

Anyways just letting you know what my partner told me..

If they knock on my door with a warrant I wont let them in, I will question the warrant through the window and ask to seek the affidavit and then hand them over to my partner lol

Keep up the good work guys


Anonymous said...

Hi I was wondering if I can get some help?
we received a letter saying that we have been summoned to court due to non payment of the tv licence, after readying this blog Ive realised that a licence is not required for what we use the tv for, we use it for gaming and sometimes watching dvds, the arial isn't even hooked up, we haven't watched tv programs since we've lived together (10 years) having seen what (in my opinion) is a complete waste of time and repeats shown on tv we've never been interested in it, freeview is built into the tv but aside from it not being hooked up and not watched I gathered from the title that it means free viewing, we don't have sky, or virgin or anything else like that although we were considering getting Netflix, what can we do?

thanks for you time

Admin said...

Hello Colin and thanks for your message.

It would be unusual if you were summoned to court without TV Licensing having some evidence against you. What normally happens is that a goon turns up, spins a load of bullshit and says "please sign this just to confirm I visited".

In reality whoever signs the form has unwittingly just admitted using TV without a licence. That is probably what has happened in your case.

The TVL178 Record of Interview form, which TV Licensing use as evidence, should be included with the summons, as should a statement of facts. If someone at your property has signed a completed form to the effect of "we watched TV without a licence" then you are in a very bad position.

Can you maybe give us some more information by email?

pathworker said...

In the free ebook "tv licencing laid bare 2015 edition" I note that there is no mentionof the situation in Northern ireland, whereas England, Wales, and Scotland are all dealt with.
Perhapse a legally competent person can advise of the situation in the province or Norther Ireland regarding

1) legal position with respect to WOIRA notices.

2) evidence required for the successfull issuance of a warrant.

3) photography and related activities in poblic places or in ones own household or propery.

Theese are important points for consideration as I beleive Northern ireland, although coming under broadly similar legislation as the remainder of the UK ( has some quirks in the manner in which law is administered and interpreted.

Northern Ireland is considered part of the UK for all or most practical puposes.

Thanks in advance for any clarification on the above points.

Admin said...

Can I suggest that if you're seeking Northern Ireland specific information, you consult this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/activeresistancetothetvlicence
The chaps there have a particular interest in Northern Ireland. In future editions of TV Licensing Laid Bare, we might try to include a bit more on the quirks of Northern Irish law.