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New TV licence rules come into force

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The BBC iPlayer “loophole” has been closed meaning if you watch catch-up television or programmes on demand, you'll need a TV licence or face a £1,000 fine.

From 1 September, the current TV licensing regime were extended to cover live BBC shows and programmes watched on catch-up through the iPlayer. Even if you don’t watch live TV, you may need a licence.

Previously you’re only required to buy a TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast.

However now if you download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch-up TV on BBC iPlayer or record any content as it’s being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, whether through a games console, streaming box, smart TV, smartphone, laptop or tablet, you’ll need to have a TV licence.

You will also need a TV licence if you access iPlayer through another provider, such as Freeview, Freesat, YouView, Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Apple, Roku or Amazon.

TV licences cost £145.50 per year which you can pay upfront, quarterly, monthly or weekly. If you’re caught without one, you could face a fine of £1,000 (£2,000 in Guernsey, £500 in Jersey), plus any legal costs and compensation.

When you won’t need a licence

You won’t need a TV licence if you download or watch the Welsh S4C TV on demand or listen to the radio via BBC iPlayer.

Further, if you download or watch programmes on demand from other providers, such as Netflix, Now TV, Amazon, ITV Hub, All 4 or Demand 5, you won’t need a licence.

Do I need to do anything?

If you already have a TV licence, you don’t need to do anything. If you never watched live TV and declared that you don’t need a TV licence, you may need to apply for one to make sure you’re covered.

Many in the dark over changes

Just last month, research by broadband and TV comparison site Broadband Genie found that more than 80% of 1,000 people surveyed were unaware of the changes, potentially putting them at risk of a fine.

Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at Broadband Genie, said we could end up with a situation where many Brits are unknowingly breaking the law come September 1st, simply because they’re unaware of the changes.

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