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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 BBC on-demand programmes via the iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a TV licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Sunday 26 June 2011

TV Licensing and Laptop Usage

Given TV Licensing's habit of posting half-truths it's hardly surprising that I'm posting a clarification this evening.

The good people of The Student Room forums still seem a little confused about the rules regarding the use of laptops to view television.

The rules are thus:

- A licence is required for any property where equipment is installed or used to receive or record live (as broadcast) TV programmes or, from 1st September 2016, BBC on-demand programmes (e.g. previously broadcast programmes on the BBC iPlayer). This means watching live TV on your laptop requires a licence.
- However, if you are using a device operating on its own internal battery (e.g. an unplugged laptop) then the licence of your usual residence will cover you. For students, this means that if your home address has a valid TV licence you will be able to use your unplugged laptop to watch live TV perfectly legally whilst at university.
- Watching on-demand programmes on services apart from the BBC iPlayer does not require a TV licence - this includes ITV Hub, All 4, My5, Sky Go, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc.

I hope that improves people's understanding of the situation.

STOP PRESS: We have now created a handy guide about TV licence requirements for laptop viewers. Please download it from our Resources page and share it with your friends.

Edit (1/9/16): This is an archive post. Recent changes in legislation mean that a TV licence is now required for any property where equipment is used to receive TV programmes or BBC on-demand programmes. The "loophole" meaning students can receiving licensable programmes on an unplugged laptop/tablet without buying an additional licence still remains. Much more information in our future Student Guide to TV Licence Rules post.


Anonymous said...

My son has started at college and has a room in a university hall, which has internet by ethernet. He has both a desktop PC and a laptop. He'd like to watch our Sky Sports account sometimes - am I right in confirming he can do this on the laptop as long as it's not charging? And does the presence of a PC and monitor invalidate this?

This arrangement seems bizarre to me - why are the licensing people bothered whether the laptop is on charge, and for that matter, why he can't use the PC in the same room. I presume also that he's not allowed to plug in the external monitor into the laptop because it's mains powered?

All very strange.

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Anon.

The rules are outdated and have failed to catch up with technology, which is why there is a bizarre range of factors that determine if a licence is needed or not.

If your home is covered by a valid TV licence then your son will be covered to watch programmes on his unplugged laptop. You are correct about the external monitor situation.

The presence of a separate desktop PC and monitor means nothing. A TV licence is a licence to receive programmes. It is not a licence to own equipment capable of receiving programmes.

The fact that TV programmes are available on the web only a few clicks away is completely incidental, as long as the equipment is not used to watch those programmes without a valid licence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply. Just one more clarification - is it OK to connect the (non-charging) laptop into the ethernet to get the Sky feed - obviously it's useless without it.

I think we'll buy him a licence - it's just too stressful otherwise, as he's doing medicine and must comply with all regulations. Mind you, I'd rather he wasn't watching too much TV...

Admin said...

The trouble is that as soon as his laptop is plugged in TVL will argue that it is installed, so technically would require a separate licence if it was used to watch programmes.