About TV Licensing

What is TV Licensing and the role of the BBC

"TV Licensing” is a trade mark used by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system. The majority of the administration of TV Licensing is contracted to Capita Business Services Ltd (‘Capita’). Over-the counter services are provided by PayPoint plc (‘PayPoint’) in the UK, and by the Post Office in the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. Marketing and printing services are contracted to Proximity London Ltd. Media services are contracted to Mediaedge:CIA International Limited ("MEC"). The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing functions and retains overall responsibility.

The BBC is required to issue TV Licences and collect the licence fee under the Communications Act 2003.

The BBC’s contracts with companies engaged to administer the television licensing system are managed by the BBC’s TV Licensing Management Team. The team sits within the BBC’s finance and business division, and ultimately reports to the BBC’s Executive Board. The BBC is governed by the BBC Trust which represents the interests of licence fee payers and sets the overall strategy.

The BBC is a corporation incorporated under Royal Charter granted by the Queen under the Royal Prerogative. The current Royal Charter was granted to the BBC on 19 September 2006. It took effect on 1 January 2007 and will expire on 31 December 2016.

The Royal Charter is the basis for the BBC’s existence. It sets out the BBC’s public purposes and guarantees its editorial independence. It prescribes the constitution of the BBC, the relationship between its Executive Board and the BBC Trust, and the duties and functions of both bodies.

The Agreement between the BBC and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport complements the Royal Charter. It sets out the BBC’s public obligations in detail, and covers the BBC's regulatory obligations and funding arrangements.

The Royal Charter and the Agreement provide the constitutional basis for the BBC.

Who reviews, and has oversight of TV Licensing?

The BBC’s contracts with companies engaged to administer the television licensing system are managed by the BBC’s TV Licensing Management Team. The team sits within the BBC’s finance and business division, and ultimately reports to the BBC’s Executive Board. The BBC is governed by the BBC Trust which represents the interests of licence fee payers and sets the overall strategy.

A report of the BBC Trust’s review of licence fee collection was published in March 2009. The report made a number of recommendations that the BBC Executive is in the process of implementing – Download the report action plan (PDF 482Kb).

KPMG are the BBC’s auditors. They review statements from TV Licensing contractors as part of annual independent audits of the BBC. The BBC is also subject to ad hoc National Audit Office audits and annual independent internal BBC audits. The TV Licensing Management Team is part of this process, which also includes audit of statements from TV Licensing agents.

The licence fee is imposed by law (the Communications Act 2003) enacted by Parliament. The licence fee amount is approved by Parliament in regulations made pursuant to that Act. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is the responsible government agency for broadcasting in the UK.

In respect of its powers to use detection equipment under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (British Broadcasting Corporation) Order 2001 the BBC is subject to the independent oversight of the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (“the OSC”). The OSC regularly inspects the BBC’s use of detection powers, and the BBC must satisfy the OSC that any use of detection equipment is lawful.

How can I contact TV Licensing?

TV Licensing can be contacted via:

For enquiries about the TV Licensing payment card scheme:

Payment Card Customer Relations
TV Licensing
PO Box 181
Preston
PR1 3GE

For enquiries about the TV Licensing savings card scheme:

TSC Customer Relations TV Licensing
PO Box 1101
Preston
PR2 0BX

Who is head of TV Licensing?

Pipa Doubtfire heads the BBC’s TV Licensing Management Team, which is based at:

The Lighthouse
Media Village
201 Wood Lane
London
W12 7TQ

Who is responsible for customer relations at TV Licensing?

The TV Licensing Operations Director, currently Alison Roberts

Why does the BBC use contractors to administer the television licensing system?

It is more cost effective than the BBC undertaking these functions in-house. Contracts are awarded following completion of competitive procurement processes undertaken in accordance with EU Public Procurement Regulations.

More information can about BBC partners and suppliers can be found at:

www.bbc.co.uk/partnersandsuppliers/

What major contracts does the BBC have with companies engaged to administer the television licensing system?

The BBC contracts the companies listed below to administer the collection of TV Licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system in the UK:

  • Proximity London Ltd
  • Capita Business Services Ltd
  • Paypoint plc
  • Communisis

This information is correct as at March 2014

Who are the directors of the companies contracted by the BBC to administer the TV licensing system?

This information is available from the Companies House, the government agency responsible for registering companies. They can be contacted at:

Email: enquiries@companies-house.gov.uk

Postal address:
Companies House
Crown way
Maindy
CF 14 3UZ
Cardiff

How does the BBC monitor the performance of companies engaged to administer the television licensing system?

The BBC’s TV Licensing Management Team is responsible for ensuring that these companies comply with contractual obligations, and that service standards are continually improving. The contracts define service levels, and specify that contractors must comply, where applicable, with the statutory requirements (such as data protection and equality legislation) incumbent upon the BBC as the responsible public authority in respect of television licensing.

Why did the BBC change to PayPoint plc from the Post Office for the provision of over-the-counter cash payment services for TV Licensing? Was the government involved in this decision? Who carried out the tender process?

When the BBC’s contract with the Post Office (which previously provided over-the-counter payment services for TV Licensing) came up for renewal, the BBC’s objective in tendering for these services was to seek the best possible way for licence fee payers to pay for their licences in a convenient and accessible way, and to provide the best value for money.

The BBC Executive Board’s responsibility is first and foremost to licence fee payers, and thus in making its decision it determined that PayPoint plc (“PayPoint”) offered the best value for money and a good range of over the counter services. The savings to the licence fee payer are expected to be more than £100 million over the life of the six-year contract, savings which will be put directly into programmes and services. The decision was not directed by the government in any way.

The contract for the provision of over-the-counter payment services for TV Licensing was awarded to PayPoint on 31 March 2006 following the completion of a competitive procurement process, undertaken in accordance with EU Public Procurement Regulations. (Where the overall value of goods and services to be purchased is likely to exceed certain financial thresholds then the BBC is required to follow procedures laid down in the EU Public Procurement Regulations.

This BBC press release gives information about the services PayPoint is engaged to provide.

The tendering process was carried out by the BBC’s management and the selection of PayPoint approved by the BBC’s Executive Board, who recommended it to the BBC Board of Governors for approval. Information on the process used by the BBC for tenders in general is also available.

What services is PayPoint plc contracted to provide for TV Licensing?

PayPoint is contracted by the BBC to process, via over the counter collection (facilitated by PayPoint agents):

  • Cash Payment Plans (which allows individuals to spread the cost of a TV Licence by making weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments by cash, credit or debit card)
  • TV Licensing Savings Card payments (which allows individuals to save towards their next TV Licence – it replaced the TV Licensing Savings Stamps)
  • Payment for a TV Licence from individuals
  • Transferring specified transaction data and payments to the BBC and/or its nominated contractors.
How many call centre staff does TV Licensing employ?

Capita Business Services Ltd (“Capita”) operates call centres for TV Licensing.

The BBC does hold information on the number of staff employed by Capita (which administers the majority of TV Licensing) in call centres. This information is exempt from disclosure under section 43(2) of the FOI Act.

Does TV Licensing make phone calls to people about licences?

Yes. TV Licensing makes phone calls to ask people to buy or renew a TV Licence or to make general licensing enquiries.

Who provides public relations activities for TV Licensing?

The National PR function, previously performed by Fishburn Hedges, was brought in-house on 1 April 2012. We continue to use specialised regional PR support from agencies based in the regions, of which Fishburn Hedges is one (providing support in the London and South East region).

TV Licensing's use of phone numbers

TV Licensing moved from 0844 to 0300 at the beginning of 2010. This means calls to TV Licensing are charged at no more than a standard national rate from all landlines and mobile phones, and in most cases will count towards inclusive minutes in phone contracts from telecom network operators.

This change was in line with recommendations made in the BBC Trust’s review report (PDF 456KB) into how the licence fee is collected. It provides a cheaper way for the public to contact us and is part of our ongoing work to make licence fee payers’ dealings with TV Licensing as easy and cost-effective as possible.

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Latest press releases

TV Licensing reveals new student research
Thu Oct 04 14:24:27 BST 2012

New research* commissioned by TV Licensing has found students may be unaware of the law for watching live TV online.
Free TV Licence for over-75s
Wed Sep 12 10:28:26 BST 2012

With more than 465,000 people in the UK due to turn 75 this year, TV Licensing and Independent Age are reminding older TV Licence holders they will be entitled to a free TV Licence on their 75th birthday.
TV Licensing launch ‘Talking Laptop’ to students
Fri Sep 07 10:40:49 BST 2012

Voiceovers by BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ’s Dev Griffin, Greg James and Sarah-Jane Crawford