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QOTW: Do you pay the TV Licence fee?

by Parm Mann on 19 April 2013, 16:30

Tags: BBC

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A reminder of the law:

The law states that you need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorders.

You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD.

I've just had an email from the kind folks at TV Licensing, stating "you've 14 days left to renew your TV Licence."

And gee, it sure does sound tempting: "Renew now then sit back tune in curl up wind down and enjoy a year's worth of TV," says the £145.50 bill.

I'll be the first to admit, on a cold evening there are few things quite as satisfying as vegging out in front of the tele, catching up on your favourite shows. But the key word here is 'catching up,' and the way in which technology has evolved our viewing habits suggests that the annual licence fee is becoming avoidable.

My wife was quick to point out that you have to pay it - "it's just one of those things," she says - but it did make me wonder; do we actually need to? The law states that you need a TV Licence if "you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV". In other words, if you watch or record live programming.

With the advent of BBC iPlayer, iTunes, Netflix and various other on-demand services, the way in which we watch TV has changed dramatically. So much so that having moved into a new home last year, I haven't yet fitted a TV aerial - it seems there's no need.

I catch-up with BBC programmes for free on iPlayer (so long as they're not streamed live) and I get the TV shows I really want to watch through the post via LoveFilm. However, while I like to believe I could get by without live TV, my argument falls short on one point: I'm a sucker for live sport.

The 2013 Wimbledon Championship looms, so I've made my decision and renewed the licence for another year. But let's hear it from you, the readers. Do you still pay the licence fee for watching live TV? Or, as a result of DVDs and the Internet, do you no longer feel the need? Let us know in the comments below.

HEXUS Forums :: 103 Comments

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Haven't had a TV - and therefore haven't had a TV license - for more than 5 years. There's simply not enough decent content that's only available on broadcast TV to warrant the cost. Everything I want to watch I can get on DVD or watch on catch-up online. And I really can't see anything changing that in the future, as digital delivery of content will eventually become ubiquitous. And presumably when that happens, someone will come up with a different way of funding the BBC.
Have not had a licence since 2010. Watch all my television on catch up services or stream
I believe you only need a TV License to watch BBC programs live, i think the sports channels are except if you watch them on or via a computer.
There is something good about sitting back and getting advert-free television, over several channels, for £145.50 a year.

I have lived without it in the past, and if I lived on my own I could do so again. However I think there's enough decent BBC content to make it worthwhile.

Gotta say that the rules about needing a TV license are quite ridiculous.
iPlayer for catchup is fine? But the content on iPlayer is what is funded by having a TV license. Ridiculous.
Same, no TV for me either.

If I have a TV all that happens is that I waste my time watching programs I'm not even interested in.
Online I only watch things I actually choose to watch.

Iplayer will tell you what you can't watch, everything else is fair game.