Tv Licence Explained What Does It Pay For & Why Do You Need It If Watching Movies & TV Online?

Although the approx. £145 annual fee for a TV licence seems somewhat debatable, understanding what it pays for and where your money goes can help. At least you know what your money is being used for, and understand the need for paying TV licences.

Why do I need a TV licence?

Mobile devices, tablets and laptops are now victims of the TV licence, with live online broadcasting’s declared in the same category as television programmes watched on your home television.

Pay-per-view content, often used to stream live sports content via major television channels and movies on demand, also requires a TV licence – even after you have paid to watch the latest action!

Recording live TV, an essential aspect to many broadband tariffs in the modern age, also requires a TV licence. Although viewers are likely to watch their recorded programmes on demand, the initial broadcasting of their content is classed as live – even ITV +1. 

Therefore, if you are a customer of any major supplier like BT, Virgin or Sky, the law still stands to require a hefty sum out of your back pocket!

How do I pay for a licence?

TV licences can be purchased in several ways, with each having their own personal benefits. The £145.50 fee for colour or £49 for black and white can be funded via direct debit, credit card or cash.

Although quarterly direct debit payments do exclude a fee charge, the payment method is most common due to its flexibility over a lump-sum payment made on a credit card or in cash.

If you are lucky enough to own a cashback credit card, you could be eligible for a rebate payment if you coincide with your monthly credit card rules.

What will happen if I fail to purchase a TV licence?

Enforcement officers are beginning to crack down on households unwilling to purchase their licence, resulting in a penalty fine of £1,000 and possible further action for non-payment.

Do you need a TV licence for watching movies & TV online

Many people get a tad confused over whether they have to pay their TV licence or not. However, it’s best not to bury your head in the sand and get things wrong, because you might end up with a hefty fine.

With more and more people watching movies and TV online than ever before, and some choosing to ditch normal TV entirely, the way we consume media is completely changing. This means that TV licences have to adapt to a digital world, and the rules end up changing slightly. It’s certainly easy to get a little confused.

So when it comes to watching TV and movies online, do you still have to pay for a TV licence? Here’s the lowdown

The main thing you need to know, is thatit’s OK to watch movies and TV programmes online as long as they are not live or recorded from live TV, ‘but you will need a licence if you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel.’

Streaming without a TV licence

Popular online TV services such as Netflix and not have to pay a TV licence. You just can’t want any live TV at all, which includes streaming programmes live through the web.

The Official TV Licensing website states:

‘Subscription channels like Netflix, Amazon Prime/Instant Video and Now TV are television services that are normally paid for on a monthly basis via cable, satellite or the internet. You will need a TV Licence if you watch live TV on a subscription channel. But you don’t need a TV Licence to watch on demand programmes (other than those on BBC iPlayer) on paid-for subscription channels.’

Saving cash on your TV licence

However, not everyone needs a TV licence and there are a number of effective methods to avoid the large expense for students and the elderly.

Customers watching on-demand movies, catching their daily Netflix fix or using Amazon Instant Video, a TV licence is not yet required in the UK. Likewise, BBC iPlayer and ITV Player enable users to stream programmes on demand, as long as the broadcastings are not live.

For many university students, purchasing a TV licence is not necessary. With the help of your parents licence, you are able to watch live television – as long as your laptop or mobile device is not connected to a charging point.

Although it is worth checking with your university accommodation before streaming, as rules between desktop computers, games consoles and laptops can vary.

Likewise, members of the public over the age of 75 are eligible for a free TV licence. Short-term licences are available to those whose licence has run out whilst at the age of 74. In addition, those living with someone blind or severely visually impaired will receive a discount on their cost. 

Do I need a TV Licence to watch BBC iPlayer?

Another rule has also been introduced, in that you can’t download or watch BBC  programmes on iPlayer (whether that’s live, catch up or on demand). It doesn’t matter which device you use, the same rules apply.

The laws actually changed very recently, on the 1st of September 2016.

According to the official TV Licensing website:

‘You don’t need a licence if you only ever watch on demand or catch up programmes on services other than BBC iPlayer (and you also never watch live TV programmes on any channel, including on iPlayer). You also don’t need a licence if you only ever watch S4C TV on demand or listen to radio on iPlayer.’

Do you need a TV licence to watch other on demand services online?

If you just watch catch up or on demand programmes on services other than iPlayer, then you won’t need a licence.

If you are unsure whether or not you should be paying for a TV licence, the best thing to do is to call the Official TV Licensing body and ask them for advice. They will let you know the finer details and answer any specific questions you have that aren’t answered in their FAQ’s.

*We cannot be responsible for the advice given here, if you have any doubts, check with your local council or the TV licensing body to be 100% sure depending on your individual circumstances. 

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