TV licence question

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Thursday 18 September 2008 2.52pm
This isn't really an SE1-specific question, so I hope it's not out of place.

I just got a notice saying I must buy a TV licence. I don't have a TV. I do have a laptop, and I have looked at a couple of BBC shows on the iPlayer over the internet (but the picture is so small that I concluded it's not worth watching in that format). The notice says if I don't have a licence I must call a number and have someone come to my house and "confirm the situation".

I am wondering what this consists of. Are they going to search my house? Go through my drawers? Do they consider a laptop "TV receiving equipment"?

If I had a TV I would gladly pay the licence, but I don't want to pay for something I can't use.
Thursday 18 September 2008 3.17pm
They go to any house that doesn't have a licence, they just assume everyone has a telly rather than having hi-tech detection equipment in a van.

If you let them in then they will just sign a bit of paper saying you don't have a telly and then leave you alone. You don't have to let them in, they have no power. If you don't let them have a look for a telly they just come back in 6 months to be refused entry again. And so on.
Thursday 18 September 2008 3.27pm
I'd check this one out a bit more carefully, perhaps. Someone I know was definite that they would have to buy a license just because they had the ability to watch iplayer on their PC.

I told them that it sounded crazy. They agreed, but were quite certain that:
- you need a license if you have "TV receiving equipment"
- a PC is now TV receiving equipment

I still think it sounds crazy, and I think I'd be inclined to call them and tell them exactly what my circumstances are, and see what they say, but I do know at least one otherwise same individual who convinced themselves that you need a license in this cirumstance.

...if you press it, they will come.
Thursday 18 September 2008 3.58pm
From the tv licence peoples web page:

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.

If you use a digital box with a hi-fi system or another device that can only be used to produce sounds and can't display TV programmes, and you don't install or use any other TV receiving equipment, you don't need a TV Licence.
Thursday 18 September 2008 4.03pm
I don't have a TV licence since I do not have a TV. On a regular basis the TV licensing people used to tell me they would come around and check. I am still waiting.

I do have a PC however, but without a TV receiver, and that is, as afar as I am aware, not considered to be requireing a TV licence.
Thursday 18 September 2008 4.57pm
You don't need a licence to watch iplayer or other online playback facilities because, currently, they don't screen anything live. You only need a licence to watch things as they are broadcast. If the BBC (or other channels) change what they're offering and things start to be available live via iplayer, then you do need a licence.

See here:
Thursday 18 September 2008 5.25pm
I'm rather impressed by all these people who don't have a TV. I lived without one for nine months once, and found I read much more as a result, listened properly to music in the evenings rather than gorging on imported dramas, and spent much time supine on the sofa. But whenever I told people I was TV-less they thought I was some kind of freaky luddite evangelist.
Thursday 18 September 2008 7.23pm
Oh, thanks, JaneS--I didn't see that page when I was looking on the BBC website.

Here's the interesting bit from it:

"If we saw, over time, that some people stopped receiving live broadcasts at all, stopped paying their licence fee, but continued to consume televison programmes, solely on-demand through the iPlayer (or other players), then we might have to consider talking to the Government about Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 and the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004, so that they can then consider whether on-demand tv viewing might be brought within its aegis."

So then they will assume that if you have no TV and do have a computer and broadband access, you are using iPlayer and thus subject to the TV licence?

Thanks, all, for the advice.

I do plan to buy a TV when I can get a really nice one, and will pay the fee then. In the meantime, I watched some TV where I first stayed when I arrived in the UK, and ended up buying all three seasons of "The Mighty Boosh", so at least the BBC has gotten something from me!

(I still miss my beautiful 42" Sharp Aquos HDTV, still residing in my San Francisco flat.)
Friday 19 September 2008 12.28am
How many tv licences are needed to pay the wages of say Jonathan Ross or Ann Robinson? All the licence fees of a small town I imagine. Although when you take Radio 4/5 into account it's not a bad deal I suppose.
To prosecute you they would have to actually prove you were receiving a broadcast. You can own a tv as a piece of furniture if you never turn it on, without having a licence. And they can't force entry to your home so why anyone allows them in I can't imagine.
"Have you got a TV"
"We need to come in and check your property"
"P*** off"
And you can't be sent to jail for not having a licence but you can be jailed for not paying a fine incurred by not having one.
Friday 19 September 2008 10.34am
If you had a TV 'as an item of furniture' you'd probably have to prove that it wasn't being used, either by removing the plug, or removing the aerial socket, or somesuch thing to ensure that no one could make a case against you just having it switched off when they come round to check. Oddly enough, you can have a TV, and video player (or DVD) setup, just to watch videos on, as long as it's not possible to link to an aerial to view live broadcast, and that wouldn't require a tv licence.

If you have a PC, you'd need a TV card inside to watch live tv broadcast, and if you don't have one of those, then you can't use a pc to watch tv - as someone else already said, iplayer, doesn't show live tv, just gives the ability to watch stuff already broadcast earlier.
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