From today, 1st September 2016, the circumstances in which a person might or might not legally need a TV licence have changed slightly.
The Communications (Television Licensing)(Amendment) Regulations 2016, which seek to close the so-called BBC iPlayer loophole, came into force at midnight last night.
From now on, a property will need to be covered by a valid TV licence in the following situations:
- Equipment is installed (e.g. plugged in ready to use) or used to receive (e.g. watch or record) TV programmes at the same time as they are broadcast on any TV channel.
- Equipment is installed or used to receive (e.g. watch or download) on-demand TV programmes via the BBC iPlayer.
A TV licence is not required for the following situations:
- Merely owning or possessing equipment that is theoretically capable on receiving TV programmes or BBC iPlayer programmes. It is the act of actually receiving those programmes that is licensable.
- Using equipment for the purposes of viewing pre-recorded DVDs.
- Using equipment for the purposes of playing video games.
- Using equipment for the purposes of viewing or recording CCTV images.
- Using equipment to receive on-demand TV programmes from providers other than the BBC - e.g. no licence is needed to watch on-demand ITV Hub, All 4, My5, Sky On Demand, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV etc.
- Using equipment to receive on-demand radio programmes via the BBC iPlayer.
- Using equipment to receive on-demand S4C TV programmes via the BBC iPlayer.
- Using a digital TV receiver to listen to programmes on a radio channel (e.g. tuning to Planet Rock via your Sky or Freeview box). Be aware - the vast majority of TV Licensing goons are unaware of this fact, so it pays to have done your research if you're going to listen to radio this way.
The fact that a person without a TV licence can still legally use the BBC iPlayer to listen to radio programmes or watch S4C on-demand programmes is an indication of how farcical and unenforceable the new legislation actually is - anyone caught (not that it's likely) using the BBC iPlayer without a valid TV licence could simply use the defence of listening to radio or watching S4C on-demand.
And a reminder of the following key points for dealing with TV Licensing:
- Anyone who does not legally need a TV licence is under no legal obligation to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing. We strongly suggest anyone in that situation ignores TV Licensing completely.
- If a TV Licensing goon visits an unlicensed property, they must:
- Show their ID on request. They should also provide a telephone number so that their identity can be verified by the occupier if required.
- Act in a polite and courteous manner.
- Leave the property immediately when requested (save for the exceptionally rare circumstances in which they have a search warrant).
- TV Licensing goons do not have the automatic right of entry to any property, although they will probably ask to enter. We recommend the occupier refuses any such request.
- TV Licensing goons should never use threats (e.g. of the police, search warrants, return visits etc) in order to secure access to a property.
- The occupier of a property is well within their legal rights to film any TV Licensing goon on their doorstep or in a public place (e.g. approaching or crossing the boundary to the property). The TV Licensing goon will undoubtedly protest at being filmed, but the only way they can prevent the occupier from filming is by withdrawing from the camera. The occupier should retain their unedited footage in a safe place, in case there are any disagreements about the circumstances of the interaction later on.
To coincide with the new legislation we have updated our free ebook, TV Licensing Laid Bare. Please grab your copy today and if you find it useful please share it with all your contacts.