Can you legally watch the BBC and not pay the TV licence fee?

 Can you legally watch the BBC and not pay the TV licence fee?

The BBC licence fee will stay at £159 annually for two years, the Government has announced.

The yearly bill will be frozen until April 2024. After this point, it will rise with the prevailing rate of inflation for a further four years.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said she wanted to shield families from “sharp increases” and “could not justify” asking them to pay more in the current climate.

It means TV licences will cost around £162.50, or £3.50 more, in two years. By 2028 they will cost around £175 a year, depending on how inflation fluctuates.

So is there a licence fee loophole that enable you to watch the BBC without paying?

Do you need a licence even if you only watch catch-up TV like iPlayer?

You need to be covered by a licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This could be on any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

However, you do not require a licence to listen to BBC radio stations or to read news articles on the BBC news website.

When did the rules change?

In the past it was possible to avoid the TV licence by not watching live programming and using only catch-up services like BBC iPlayer.

However, in September 2016 the BBC changed the rules to address the rise of catch-up services, meaning you still need a TV licence, even if you are not watching live.

Does that apply to just BBC iPlayer or if you watch any other catch-up services?

You do not need a licence if you only ever watch on-demand or catch-up programmes on services other than BBC iPlayer.

If you also never watch live TV programmes on any channel, including on iPlayer, then you don’t need to pay the fee.

You also don’t need to be covered by a licence to watch any films or TV shows that you buy online.

What about watching television on my mobile or tablet out of the house?

If you are watching live TV on a portable device like a phone, you need to have a licence no matter where you are. There is a secondary rule applying to whether your “device” – a tablet, phone or PC – is “powered by its own batteries” or plugged into the mains supply.

If it is battery-powered, the licence from your home address covers it. If it is plugged into the mains, the property needs the licence.

Can the licensing authorities really detect whether or not I’m watching television?

A TV Licensing spokesman said its systems “enable us to identify whether live TV is being watched, regardless of the technology used.

“We don’t talk in detail about detection because we do not want to inadvertently aid people deliberately trying to evade the licence.”


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