Every year people across the country renew and pay their TV Licenses – and why should they not? With an eclectic selection of TV available for just £145.50 per year, this is an excellent price for the quality of service received. For the majority of the country, this represents value. However, for students and those on a lower earning bracket, this is quite a substantial amount of money that could otherwise be spent on food or something more needed in life. The chances are though, if you are a student: you like watching TV whether it is live or catch up.
Nevertheless, most students do not realise they do not need to pay this fee: TV licensing are knowingly sending out renewal letters, worded in such a way to avoid the real explanation of the law surrounding a TV license.
The wording on the rather confrontational letter is as follows: “You need to be covered by a TV License if you watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV. This is the case no matter what device you use – whether a TV, computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.”
Firstly, and on a lighter note, who still uses a VHS recorder? Secondly, this is plain wrong – in fact, this is blurring the line legally. As the link here states, you do not need a TV License if you meet all the following criteria: a) “your out-of-term address is covered by a TV License”, b) “you only use TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries” and finally c) “you have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains.”
It is estimated that for most students their parents would have a TV License, and therefore the first condition is covered. For the second and third point, tablets and laptops can be used – which students will more than likely own either or both of the two. All UK catch up services are legal via this method, as are sites such as TVcatchup.co.uk and live streams from the likes of the BBC and E4.
As long as you are not watching live TV through an aerial or satellite dish, and your home address is covered by a TV License, you are absolutely covered. The wording of the letters being sent out to students across the country is falsely worded and in fact recouping loses from illegal TV watchers from students.
This may soon change, as the revolution that is BBC iPlayer has grown hugely since its launch on Christmas day 2007 came after the last change to TV Licensing. It is thought that the BBC trust will vote in favour of requiring a license to use iPlayer, which will mean students will then require a license to use the service. This is not a foregone conclusion yet, but the recent proposal of a 30-day catch up period instead of 7 days launching in the summer may just soften the blow.
I have contacted personally TV Licensing for further comment on this matter and will update the article here if there is any response.
Written by Harry Barnes