Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

New year, new TV license

I’ve made a new years resolution: watch more TV.

While living in halls in Bradford, I didn’t have a TV of my own, and only occasionally had the chance to watch someone else’s. Although I managed this for 3 months, I’ve decided that next term, I’ll take a TV and video (VCR) with me. I have a portable colour TV in my room (originally bought for my father in 1990 after his back operation so that he could watch the World Cup in bed), and the video became surplus to requirement when my parents bought a new one – this one dates back to the late eighties when its predecessor finally died on us. That said, it’s not failed on us yet; just because it’s old doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, though picture quality isn’t as good as modern units.
You may be wondering why I didn’t take a TV the first time. It wasn’t because there wasn’t space in my room, or because I couldn’t have one. It’s because I need a license for it.
Now while any UK homeowner will now be groaning, those of you not from the UK may be thinking something on the lines of “WTF?”. You probably know that we have the brilliant organisation that is the BBC. Well, the BBC is a ‘public service broadcaster’ – it is appointed by the government to work in the interests of the public (do not get this confused with being state-controlled – the BBC is perfectly entitled to criticise the government if it so desires). Anyway, an act of parliament means that the BBC cannot broadcast commercial advertising on any of its TV or radio stations, which makes it a little difficult to make money. So we have the TV license.
Basically, you pay £112/£37.50 per year to be able to use one or more colour/black and white TVs (or VCRs or PCTV tuner cards, or anything that can receive a TV signal) in your home, which pays for the BBC’s TV, radio, internet and interative outputs. So all you non-UK people are using the BBC’s online services at our expense…
Owning a TV (or similar) without a valid license results in a fine of up to £1000, and possible court appearances, and can adversely affect your credit rating. Until recently, student halls of residences were covered under students’ parents’ licenses, but that has since changed, so to be able to watch TV I had to buy a license.
Anyway, TV Licensing’s website gives you information about how to pay, including a Direct Debit form to print off, or alternatively an online payment system for paying by credit or debit card (but you have to pay the whole lot, whereas direct debit lets you pay in monthly installments). So I printed off the form, and popped it in the post.
The site also has information about how those with an unlicensed TV are caught, including a rather humourous excuses page which lists some of the more bizarre real excuses given to inspectors when they turn up at people’s doors.


  1. Your New Years Resolution is to watch more TV is it? Why does that sound familiar? 🙂
    I know we all grumble about having to pay for the TV licence (“I hardly watch BBC so why should I pay?”) and BBC does make extra income from other methods (magazines, videos, selling of programmes abroad, UK Gold etc) but for “brand recognition” (who in the world hasn’t heard of the BBC?) and News coverage they can’t be faulted IMHO.

  2. having to pay the license fee is a crime! its pure mafia tactics. as soon as itv came onto the scene there was no excuse for the government to let the bbc steal our money! public service? what a joke! commercial channels are just as much a public service or else no-one would watch and it would be unprofiable. and now the bbc has more channels that are not available to the public(digital channels) than ones that are! but its the law! you have to pay your license fee! the mafia (sorry, the government), say so!

  3. where is the tv licence website?

  4. I am not sure what is ment by no adverts on the bbc. thats because i’m sure i’ve heard adverts for other forms of broadcasting, i.e advertising tele show on radio and vice veras???
    Also on radio (BBC Radio 1), which i listen to the most i hear a lot of product placement. This i’m quite sure dose not fit in with what the beep are saying.

    You can find a good website here but not bbc’s..its a campaign to abolish the UK tv license hosted by Jonathan Miller and I think you’ll find it quite interesting

  6. it’s awful. i’d like to have a tv just to watch videos… what should i do?

  7. hey i’m currently writing an essay for my degree about the tv license being unfair, which i think most people agree with, but i need to know extactly when it was brought in and what it is exactly for, any one know where i can get this information from? The bbc website is rubbish!!