Idiot box

Well, this is intriguing. Apparently, the TV licensing people are being a bit draconian with new students, going so far as sending out threatening sounding letters. So I’m told, they claim that they “know that students watch TV on laptops” and that “you need to buy a TV license if you own a laptop because you can use it to watch TV”. Having spoken to a few undergrads, the letter is basically very easy to misconstrue as saying “you need a TV license to own a laptop computer.” This is plainly absurd. So to dispel the illusion that the UK TV Licensing people are attempting to extort undergraduates,* I decided to look into this a bit…

The UK TV Licensing laws may seem a little odd to anyone who’s never had to pay them before (and by that, I mean both undergrads and international students and researchers). In essence though, it’s fairly simple. A TV license is required to watch or record broadcasts — as they’re being shown. That’s it. You do not now, nor have you ever needed a TV license to own a TV set, to watch recordings (including recorded broadcasts), or to own a monitor for computers or video games.

The TV Licensing website itself says this:

You don’t need a TV Licence if
You don’t watch or record
television programmes as
they’re being shown on TV
– on any device

If you don’t watch or record television programmes,
or you only stream TV programmes online after
they’ve been broadcast
– through on-demand
services like YouTube, BBC iPlayer and 4oD – you
don’t need to be covered by a TV Licence.

(Excerpt from the section on students).

In short, if you don’t watch any live broadcasts, you don’t need a TV license, and shouldn’t needlessly pay to have one.

Apparently, this means you need to have a glance over their page about what do do if you don’t need a license, and complete this online declaration form. Apparently, they’ll still probably want to check and make sure, but I guess it is the law, after all.

In short, it seems a trifle unnecessary that the TV Licensing people feel the need to be accusatory and heavy handed towards UK students. The government’s been quite nasty enough to students recently. You’d think they’d perhaps be slightly more diplomatic in the way they deal with things…

*And yes, I’m quite protective of our undergraduates.

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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3 Responses to Idiot box

  1. Baribal says:

    In Germany, you do have to get a TV license to own a laptop, because you could *potentially* access services provided by public stations. That is TV, radio, even their websites. Actually, any such device is cause for having to get a license, which includes your smartphone. Yes, if you’re such a luddite that you don’t own a TV, radio or computer, just a somewhat modern phone, you still have to pay. With TVs and radios, there was at least some little sense to it, but this is pure madness, especially as noone asked the public stations to litter the net with their stuff.

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