Anyone in the UK who watches TV has to pay a license fee every year. The money raised from this is used to fund the BBC. This is a matter of much controversy, made significantly worse by the tactics used by “TV Licensing” in trying to hunt down and executedeal with people who don’t pay. Tales of invasions of privacy, intimidation, and general all round nastiness abound online. This is not the place to rehash those, or even the concept that just because they declare that it’s their “standard practice” to turn up at your home and demand access to prove you’re not doing something illegal that you have to let them or that they have any right to do so whatsoever.
Instead I’m going to focus on one simple question that seems to have lots of people confused. More and more people are giving up on broadcast TV altogether, and buying or renting all their TV shows on DVD to watch. So, do they still need a licence?
TVL et al have been very successful in their misinformation campaigns here, as numerous people seem to think that the answer is “yes”.
The true answer is remarkably difficult to find, but is buried rather deeply on the BBC’s website in the section where they publish their responses to Freedom of Information queries. Of course these are published as PDFs to make it less likely anyone will stumble over the information, and, just to make it even more difficult, the PDFs are image scans, so Google etc can’t even index the underlying text.
So, as a public service, here are the steps to convincing yourself (or others) that you don’t need a license if you only use your TV to watch DVDs:
- Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi/docs/responses_tvlicence.shtml
- Find response SR2006000623 – TV Licence Requirements
- Download the PDF
- Read the answer to question 2: “Is a TV licence required for a television that is used for playing DVDs and videos (i.e. not for receiving or recording broadcasts)?” [you may also need the context of answer 1: “A licence is not needed simply because a television receiver is owned”]
Next week: How to deflect accusations of shady behaviour by doing everything under a name of an entity that doesn’t really exist in any legal form…