UK TV Licensing’s sneaky new declaration – beware what you say

UPDATE: Added link to statement regarding need for TV license for none UK “live programs”.
imgHeaderLogoThe Television licensing people in the United Kingdom are not happy with me. To be fair, I don’t really know why they are so, it’s not like I’ve ever done anything to upset them, except refuse to pay for a TV license I neither want nor require.
For those outside th
e UK, the quick version is that the BBCs television, internet and radio services are paid for in the form of a “TV License”. Essentially this is the same as a subscription service from other providers. In fact, the wording is so devious that ANY “live” television program shown in the UK, over the air, satellite or via the internet requires a TV license, even regardless of its country of origin (but more on that later).
That’s correct, you read that right. Even if you never watch a single BBC program, but do watch ITV, Channel 4 or even Channel 5 or any Sky, Virgin or whoever channels; you STILL have to pay the BBC £145 a year. For providing you with… nothing.
However; if you, like me, don’t watch “live” television and instead watch programs from Netflix, Amazon and Now TV, well you do not need a TV license.
And this seems to drive them nuts and this isn’t hyperbole either. Pretty much every 3-4 months without fail I will receive a letter from TV Licensing advising me that I might be breaking the law and may require a license.
In fact, despite having already made a declaration last year (which is meant to last TWO years) I have received yet another letter from them today with the warning in bold along that top
Please get in touch to avoid further action.
Now, what you might not know at this point is that from September 1st (2016) it will not be possible to watch iPlayer programs live or as a catch-up service without the need for a license. This is where the new online declaration has become a whole lot sneakier than it used to be.
In its previous incarnation it merely asked you to click checkboxes to state your declaration that you;
  • Didn’t watch live TV or live streaming TV
  • Watched on-demand programs
But now they have used a drop down selection system and the wording has been specifically selected so that it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to avoid incriminate yourself from further investigation. See below;
The new declaration options
Because were before you could say you watched on-demand but not live or catch-up, in the new version your only option is “catch-up or on-demand programs” and as we know, this will mean come 1st September you will in effect be suggesting you use BBC iPlayer to view content and can take it as read that this is exactly how they will interpret that.
Now you might be wondering if I’m being paranoid or getting a little carried away imagining this will be the case. Perhaps this is because, after a short trial starting in 2014, G4S has now been given full powers to work on behalf of the BBC to track down non-licensed viewers and they are being paid to meet targets.
Because let’s face it, in a YouTube world, where a certain breed of BBC executives are busy killing off the crown jewels (Doctor Who, Top Gear etc), with ever-increasing competition from the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Now TV; the BBC only sees it’s revenue ever shrinking and is making desperate measures.
And one other small point before I go……
The BBC also thinks it’s authorised to collect funds from other TV stations around the world. In the lower panel on the declaration, it says that it is necessary to pay the (BBC) license fee if you intend to watch live streaming television programs from other countries. Which makes me wonder if this means live programs like “The Young Turks” as shown via YouTube, because in one sense, it does. I wonder if YouTube are aware of the BBC’s encroachment upon the licensing of their product?
The wording goes like this;
Do I need a TV Licence to watch satellite programmes broadcast from outside the UK or Channel Islands?

Yes you do. You need a TV Licence to watch or record live TV, no matter where it is broadcast or distributed from. This includes satellite or online streamed programmes from outside the UK or Channel Islands, such as sporting events and foreign shows.

Live TV means any programme you watch or record at the same time as it’s being shown on TV or an online TV service.

But even this is out of date because it goes on to say;

If you only ever watch on demand programmes, you don’t need a TV Licence. On demand includes catch-up TV, streaming or downloading programmes after they’ve been shown on live TV, or programmes available online before being shown on live TV.

 Which will be out of date from the 1st of September (2016).


  1. G4S only do leaflet dropping (e.g. calling cards) on behalf of TV Licensing. They serve to generate sales and don’t have any enforcement remit at all. As someone with no legal need for a TV licence, you are under no obligation at all to TV Licensing.

    You do not need to declare “no TV” – indeed doing so, as you’ll probably discover, is often a totally wasted effort, as the letters and intimidation rarely stop.

    Our advice is to totally ignore TV Licensing. Do not do its work for it. You owe TV Licensing nothing. TV Licensing has stitched up perfectly innocent people who thought they were doing the right thing by being helpful.

    If you’ve not found our blog, a quick Google will point you in our direction.

    • The wording from the TV licensing states you are required by law to declare you do not require a TV license or action will be taken.

      G4S are not “just” dropping off cards. They are being used to intimidate people and to attempt to gain entry to a property for the purpose of gaining evidence for future prosecution.

      And yes, of course, you do not have to let them in or answer their questions.

  2. If TV Licensing has written anywhere that you are legally obliged to declare no TV, then that is a lie. TV Licensing are pretty good at lies, but they’re never normally daft enough to write one down as big as that. No-one is under any legal obligation to confirm their no TV status. Honest.

  3. I should also add that the TV licence will only be required to watch BBC iPlayer catch-up programmes. It will (still) not be required to watch catch-up programmes on the ITV Hub etc. The new Regulations are a bit comical really.

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