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TV Licence – Decriminalisation Update

The House of Commons Library has released a Research Briefing update on the decriminalisation of the TV licence, ‘TV licence fee non-payment: should it be decriminalised?’.

According to the briefing, a TV licence is needed to:

- watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, on any channel.

- watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.).

- download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

The use of a television receiver without a valid licence can lead to prosecution, a court appearance and a fine of up to £1,000, not including legal costs. The relevant legislation is Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 (as amended) which sets out the installation of a “television receiver” and definitions of “use”.

It also states that decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee would require primary legislation. This could be done under the BBC’s existing Royal Charter.

Link to the Research Briefing - TV licence fee non-payment: should it be decriminalised?