Legal Loophole To Avoid Paying TV licence

Legal Loophole To Avoid Paying TV licence

Legal Loophole To Avoid Paying TV Licence

At the moment, the cost of a standard TV Licence for a colour TV is £145.50 a year and you are legally obligated to pay for this if you live in the UK and use any device that streams live television. However, there is a legal loophole to get around this and it has been exploited by many people so much so that the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has recently said that the iPlayer loophole will be closed very soon. While speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, he said, “When the licence fee was invented, video on demand did not exist.” Essentially, the explosion of digital streaming devices that stream all TV stations have made it difficult for the BBC to collect their licence fee.

How the Loophole Works

The TV Licence is only needed if you stream televisions live. However, it is not technically needed if you watch television programs on catchup ‘on demand’ services including pre-recorded shows on the BBC iPlayer or watch shows on online streaming devices from  Apple, Sony, Roku not to mention things like Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video.

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Two Rules That You Must Never Ever Break

Bearing in mind that you can legally avoid paying the TV Licence if you don’t stream live television there are 2 golden rules to adhere to so that you don’t get into trouble:

1. If you do ever watch anything live, even if it’s just once then you must get a licence. Whether you watch it on a standard television device or online via a PC, smartphone, games console etc.

2. You must not record live broadcasts because as far as the authorities are concerned, when you record live televison it is the same as watching it.

Q. What if I watch live TV on my mobile device when I’m not at home?

A. Here the rules are very old-fashioned because they were designed in the time of portable TV’s on caravans but don’t take into account that millions of us are effectively carrying hi-tech televisions in our pockets. But the most important thing to note is that the first rule applies – if you’re watching TV live anywhere and on any device you must have a licence.

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Important note: There is also something called a “secondary rule” which is based on whether your portable device is battery-powered or needs a mains-supply and the bottom line is that if the device needs to be plugged into the mains then you need to get the licence.

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The Loophole is Closing

It is interesting to note that the laws on TV licensing was last updated in 2004 but has not coped with the enormous advances in  new technology since then. As mentioned in the first paragraph, plans for reform are likely to be reviewed this summer and they will try to close the loophole used by iPlayer catch-up viewers. It is not clear how the new rules and laws for the TV Licence will be policed although the Department for Culture, Media and Sport says that this is up to the BBC to decide.

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