Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to install or use a television receiver to watch or record any television programmes as they're being shown on television without a valid TV Licence. The Act empowers the BBC to make and amend the terms and conditions of a licence. It allows the government to make regulations to exempt or reduce the licence fee for certain persons in certain circumstances. It also makes it an offence for anyone to have any television receiver in their possession or under their control who intends to install or use it in contravention of the main offence (above), or knows, or has reasonable grounds for believing, that another person intends to install or use a television receiver in contravention of the main offence.
The Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967 (as amended) requires television dealers to notify TV Licensing of all their sales and rentals of television sets. This includes analogue and digital TV sets, DVD and video recorders, digital boxes and computers (including laptops) with TV cards.
The Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 define what is a 'television set' and who is a 'television dealer'. The regulations also set out the various types of TV Licence, the criteria for obtaining them, the fees payable for them (including the frequency and amount of instalments) and the different concessions available, including concessions for people who are blind or severely sight impaired, people who are over 74 years of age, people who live in residential care and people who run hotels, guesthouses or campsites.
We have a policy for determining the circumstances in which we will revoke or cancel a TV Licence. A TV Licence lasts for as long as specified on the licence unless it has previously been cancelled or revoked by or on behalf of the licensing authority (the BBC) in accordance with section 364(4) of the Communications Act. We will only revoke or cancel a licence in the following circumstances:
1. Breach of licence terms
If there has been a breach of the terms and conditions of the TV Licence, including a failure to pay any money due, with respect to the licence, under the Communications Act and the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 within the regulatory time scales, and provided the licence holder has been given a reasonable opportunity to pay and is reasonably aware of the consequences of non-payment.
2. Error or fraud
If an over 75 TV Licence has been issued to a person who is not aged 75 or over, and/or for an address which is not that person's sole or main residence.
3. Change of circumstances
If the licence holder informs us that the licence is not required (whether by way of a justified refund claim or otherwise) or will not be required as from a future date, and we are satisfied that the claim is justified.
N.B. We will not cancel an over 75 TV Licence when we are informed that the licensee has died. The licence will remain in force until it has expired.
If the licence holder requests to be switched to a different payment scheme. Current systems do not allow licences to be transferred between payment schemes.
TV Licences will normally be revoked or cancelled by notice in writing and in accordance with the requirements of the Communications Act 2003, sections 364(5)(8) and (9), clearly stating the date of revocation or cancellation. We will send a letter of impending revocation, which will be followed by a letter of revocation unless the matter has been resolved. We may also revoke licences by publishing a general notice on the BBC's website and, if deemed appropriate by the BBC, in other national communications. We will only revoke a licence from a date which takes account of any money that has been paid in respect of the licence, rounding up to the nearest month of expiry if necessary (and, in the case of a licence for which a blind concession fee has been paid, rounding up pro rata).
Section 365(3) of the Communications Act 2003 gives the BBC a discretionary power to refund payments made in respect of a licence under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004. When deciding whether or not to make a refund, we will take into consideration any earlier claim by the claimant in respect of which there is reason to suspect that the refund was obtained as a result of false information, including a signed declaration by the claimant which has proved to be false.
We will only give refunds in the circumstances set out below and only when we are satisfied that the claim is justified. Your application must be submitted within two years of the expiry date of the licence that you wish to be refunded (or if your claim relates to more than one licence, within two years of the expiry date of the most recently issued licence).
Refunds will only be made in respect of full quarters i.e. three consecutive calendar months of a TV Licence. The exceptions to this are refunds as a result of buying a replacement licence (see point 4 below) and refunds as a result of paying for a TV Licence when the licence holder was in fact entitled to a free over 75 TV Licence. In these cases, refunds may be made based upon the months used.
In the case of a refund payable as a result of the issue of an over 75 TV Licence, the effective date will normally be the first of the month of the licence which is current at the time of issue or the first of the month of the 75th birthday, whichever is the later. In the case of a refund payable to a person who has properly claimed the blind concession, the effective date will normally be the first of the month of the licence current at the time of the claim. In both of these cases, however, refunds may be claimed on expired licences.
It is BBC policy that refunds will be considered in the following circumstances:
1. TV receiving equipment is no longer in use
Refunds can be given where the licensee ceases to use television receiving equipment at their address. If the licence has not yet expired, it must not be needed again before its expiry date.
2. TV receiving equipment is covered by another licence
Refunds can be given where the licensee moves from their address to another where they will be covered by someone else's licence (e.g. parents or partner).
3. TV Licence is bought in error
Refunds can be given in respect of licences which are bought as a result of an error by the claimant, usually because the use of television receiving equipment does not require that type of licence, e.g. bought colour licence when only needed black and white. In these circumstances, the customer can claim up to two years' worth of refund. If the licence was bought in error as a result of advice given by the Licensing Authority or its agent, the customer can claim up to six years' worth of refund.
4. A replacement TV Licence has been bought
Refunds can be given where the licence holder no longer requires a licence because it has been replaced by a different type of TV Licence, either because of a change in the type of TV receiving equipment being used or for other reasons. For example, the licence holder moves to an address which is covered by an ARC concessionary TV Licence for persons who meet the relevant criteria (see the 'Residential care' section in Chapter 9 'TV Licences for special circumstances').
A claim can be made if a licence holder:
In this category, refunds can be given with respect to unexpired calendar months. If there is a delay in establishing eligibility for the replacement licence, the customer can claim up to two years' worth of refund. If the licence was bought in error as a result of advice given by the Licensing Authority or its agent, the customer can claim up to six years' worth of refund.
5. Change of law
Refunds can be given when a TV Licence is no longer required as a direct result of a change in the law.
6. Blind concession refunds
A refund of up to half the licence fee (depending on whether the licence is a full fee or instalment licence) can be given if a licence holder has a blind certificate issued by a local authority or ophthalmologist, but failed to claim the reduction for the blind concession when his/her current licence was bought.
To qualify for the blind concession, the customer must supply a photocopy of one of the following pieces of evidence:
A person who has properly claimed a blind concession may also claim a refund on an expired TV Licence, backdated to 1 April 2000 or the first of the month in which he or she became blind or severely sight impaired, whichever is the later. The claimant must provide the licence and a photocopy of one piece of evidence (as detailed above). The usual rule that refunds must be paid to the licence holder only does not apply in this case. If the licence covers or covered the place where the blind or severely sight impaired person resides or resided throughout the relevant time, then a refund will be payable to the licence holder even if this is not the blind or severely sight impaired person (subject to satisfactory proof).
7. Refunds in consequence of an over 75 TV Licence application
Refunds of months on a current licence will be payable automatically when an over 75 TV Licence is issued, backdated to the beginning of the licence or the first of the month of the 75th birthday, whichever is the later. However, no refund is payable on an over 75 TV Licence.
Refunds for the value of TV Licence savings stamps
TV Licence savings stamps have been removed from circulation and replaced with a TV Licensing savings card. TV Licence savings stamps will retain their cash value, which you can redeem if you still have any. Please request a refund by sending your savings stamps to:
Please do this by Special Delivery and remember to include your name, address, phone number and TV Licence number (if you have one).
For more information about refunds on TV Licence savings stamps, please call 0300 790 6131.
For more information about our refund policy in general, please write to:
The Refund Group
PO Box 410
Poor television reception
Your TV Licence does not guarantee the quality of picture you receive.
If you have problems with your TV reception or interference to your signal, please visit the Radio and Television Investigation Service website at www.radioandtvhelp.co.uk (opens in new window) for advice. Alternatively you can write to or call them at:
PO Box 1922
Tel: 0370 901 6789