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In the UK, you require a TV license for viewing or recording 'live' TV programs as they are being broadcast. You need this license even if you are watching 'live' TV programs on other mediums such as computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones or any similar devices capable of receiving a TV signal.
Here are a few practical examples of when you are legally required to have a TV license
You need a TV license to watch Game of Thrones, Once or any other program, films or series on a computer or mobile while it is being broadcast live on TV.
The TV license costs £145.50 for a color TV and £49 for black and white TV. A single TV license is sufficient for the entire household. With a TV license, you get access to BBC's TV and radio channels like BBC One, Two, Three, Four, and others without any additional cost.
You need a TV license in almost all situations if you are watching TV programs. However, it is not compulsory to pay this license solely if you own a TV. You also don't need a TV license if you use your TV with a gaming console, or for watching DVDs. Also, TV license is not necessary if you are watching non-live TV programs via catch-up TV such as BBC iPlayer and BBC Four or via the internet on YouTube or Netflix.
You do not need a license if you watch the same episode of Game of Thrones on Netflix after a couple of days.
One way to save on TV licenses is to watch only catch-up TV. Almost all of BBC shows are available on catch-up TV. Alternatively you can use an online subscription service such as Netflix or watch the content for free on Youtube.
It is illegal to view live TV without a TV license. TV license officials carry out surprise checks, and if they find you watching TV without a TV license, you will have to pay a penalty of up to £1,000 along with legal fees.
In 2013, there were only 428,359 households who were managing without a TV license. This is a small percentage of the total 26.4 million households in the UK. So like most households you will have to pay TV license, unless you decide to go for any of the alternatives. And, it is better to pay TV license on time rather than risk paying up a higher fine and getting into legal trouble.
Use our household budget calculator to check how TV license fees impacts your household finances.
Avoid paying your TV license fees via quarterly direct debit as this will lead to an extra charge of £5 per year or £1.25 every quarter.