By British law anybody who uses a TV to receive TV programmes has to pay a licence fee. Even users of VCRs, DVD recorders, set-top boxes or a PC with a broadcast card have to abide by this. The cost of the fee is determined by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It currently stands at an annual price of £142.50 for a colour TV licence and £48.00 for a black and white TV.
Watching TV online
However, if you only watch a “catch-up” service that doesn’t show programmes as they're being aired on TV, such as YouTube, then you don’t have to pay.
What is it used for?
The licence fee is used by the BBC to run its programming schedules. The channel doesn’t run adverts or receive funding from advertisers; nor does it have any involvement with shareholders or political bodies.
The annual fee of £142.50 for a colour licence is divided among most of the BBC services. This way TV and radio from both local and national networks can be brought to the public.
Does everybody have to pay?
Certain groups of people are exempt from paying the TV licence fee. These include people that are over the age of 75, though if you're 74 you can apply for a Short Term Licence until you reach 75.
If you are registered blind then the price is halved using the Blind Concessionary Licence.
How to pay
There are various methods of payment to spread the cost of your TV licence.
- Direct Debit
This is probably the easiest way to pay and is arranged with your bank or building society. Payments can be taken from your account in monthly, quarterly or annual amounts.
- Credit/Debit card
Payments can be made online at the TV licensing website via secure online transactions.
- Post Office
You can either take your bill into the Post Office and pay it in cash over the counter or you can use a TV licence savings card. This allows you to save a little bit at a time to pay for your licence. Once you have saved up enough for your licence it will be deducted from the card.
- Pay Point outlet
Pay points can be found in many shops, newsagents and supermarkets across the UK. They allow you to renew your licence at a time that is convenient to you.
This is the electronic transfer system that is favoured by businesses wishing to renew a licence. This can be arranged beforehand with the TV Licensing body.
What happens if you do not pay?
Detector vans operate in many areas to detect the magnetic field which shows that a TV is switched on. Along with a national database of households and businesses with licences, there is no way of evading the TV licence fee. If you do not pay your licence you have to be prepared to get a £1,000 fine and could also face prosecution.
For more advice and information about TV Licences take a look at the TV Licensing website.
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