TV licence: Households could be hit with £1,000 if they break fee rules | Personal Finance | Finance

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There are certain rules in place which mean Britons are legally required to pay money towards their TV licence. Those who chose not to comply with the rules, and are caught watching television without having paid, may be hit with a £1,000 fine. However, many people are not aware of the full extent of these rules which may result in them inadvertently breaking them.

Who has to pay the licence fee?

Across the UK, families need to pay the cost of a TV licence in order to watch any programs which are being broadcast live.

Even when it comes to streaming, people need to pay the licence fee to watch live content on services such as BBC iPlayer and Sky Go.

Other streaming services which feature live content include Amazon Prime, ITVX, All 4, YouTube and Now TV.

Notably, even if people are not using the service to watch live content, households need to pay the TV licence to watch anything on BBC iPlayer.

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This is because the BBC is responsible for the administration of the licence fee and receives money from it to fund its programming.

When someone buys a television licence for one household, this covers every device that is used in the home.

This includes any televisions used by family members, computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, iPads, video games consoles or digital boxes.

Those looking to pay their licence fee can do so by visiting the TV Licensing website, where options are provided to either renew a licence, purchase a new one or use a card scheme to mitigate the cost.


On its website, TV Licensing breaks down exactly how much someone can be fined if they break the licence fee rules.

The licence fee service stated: “We could visit your property to confirm if you need a TV licence.

“If we find that you have been watching, recording or streaming programmes illegally, you risk prosecution and a fine for not having a TV Licence of up to £1,000 plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.”

It should be noted that the maximum fine someone can receive for not paying their licence in Guernsey is £2,000.

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TV Licensing has also shared how it tracks down individuals who choose not to pay up.

The licence body added: “We have a database of approximately 31 million licensed and unlicensed addresses. This tells us if your address has a TV Licence.

“All our visiting officers have access to this database. This means they can check if you have a licence or not.

“If you tell us that you do not need a TV Licence, our officers may still visit you to confirm this. We also have a fleet of detector vans that can detect the use of TV receiving equipment at specifically targeted addresses within minutes.”

How much is a TV licence?

For one household, the licence fee costs £159 for a colour television and £53.50 for a black and white one.

Last year, it was confirmed this price tag would be frozen for two years as the Government reviewed its options for BBC funding.

This means that the TV licence will remain at £159 until next year at which point it will either be hiked by inflation or at another rate.

The Government may also choose to scrap the licence fee altogether in light of recent proposals to introduce a subscription-style model to help pay for the BBC.

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