TV Licence evasion not worth risk to reputation

(Issued 6th October)

Long term business reputation is more important than any gains made by cutting corners now, particularly when it comes to keeping on the right side of the law, according to new research.

A survey of over 250 managers at UK businesses*, conducted with the British Chambers of Commerce on behalf of TV Licensing, showed despite many businesses needing to make cutbacks, just 14% of businesses would consider not paying for a TV Licence where one was needed. In contrast 59% said they would first consider cutting staff perks in tough times.

The survey also showed that, of those asked what would motivate them to ensure they were correctly licensed, 98% answered the potential reputational damage from negative press coverage of a prosecution for TV Licence evasion. The same proportion said the risk of losing customers from such reputational damage would motivate them while just over a quarter of respondents (28%) felt the impact of receiving a fine on the bottom line would be likely to encourage them to buy a licence.

A TV Licence is legally required if anyone – including staff or customers - watches or records TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV, whether on a computer, TV or any other type of equipment. While the majority of businesses want to be correctly licensed at all times, a small minority do try to avoid paying the fee. If an employee is caught watching TV illegally, the business or the employee may be held liable and fined up to £1,000.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 100% of respondents felt the risk of damaging their own careers or losing their job as a result of being fined for licence evasion would be a strong incentive to ensure their business was correctly licensed.

Jon Shaw, TV Licensing spokesperson said: “The majority of businesses want to be correctly licensed and it’s our job to make sure they are aware of when they need one and to make it as easy as possible for them to pay.

“We appreciate these are tough economic times, but to be fair to the majority who do pay the licence fee, we have to take action against those who watch TV illegally. As this survey shows, those businesses who do try to get away with it might find the price of being caught to be higher than just a fine.

“We’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk being prosecuted. A licence costs £145.50 and can be bought in minutes online at
David Riches, Operations Director at the British Chambers of Commerce said: “The reputation of a business is paramount to its success and the impact of a prosecution for any offence could be quite damaging. We always advise businesses to make sure they are aware of their legal requirements.


*Research conducted online by the BCC among 253 managers within UK businesses with 500 employees and fewer. Sept 2010

For more information please contact the TV Licensing press office on 020 7544 3144.

Notes to Editors

Who needs a TV Licence?
If anyone at your business watches or records TV programmes as they are being shown on TV, irrespective of what channel they're watching, what device they’re using (TV, computer, laptop, mobile phone or any other), and how they receive them (terrestrial, satellite, cable, via the Internet or any other), you will need to be covered by a valid TV Licence. In general, one licence will cover all the TV equipment your business uses for business purposes on a single site.  The only exception to this is hotels, which have separate licensing requirements.

However, if you sub-let any part of your premises to another business or have an on-site social or welfare club, then it will require its own separate licence. Please note that the licence does not cover any residential accommodation on-site or within the premises.

When is a licence not needed?
You do not need a licence for your business premises if the TV equipment is never used to receive or record television programme services, but is only used for closed circuit monitoring or to watch pre-recorded videos.

Penalties for TV Licence evasion
Using television receiving equipment to watch or record television programme services without the correct licence is a criminal offence.  Your business could face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Paying for your business’s TV licence
A colour TV licence costs £145.50. A black and white TV licence costs £49. The licence fee is set by Government.

TV Licensing aims to make it as easy as possible for people to buy a TV Licence, which is why there are many different ways to pay.

TV Licensing aims to make it as easy as possible for people to buy a TV Licence, which is why there are many different ways to pay.

  • Over-the-counter – people can now pay at any of almost 22,000 PayPoint outlets across the country
  • Direct Debit - monthly, quarterly or annual Direct Debit payment schemes are available and can be set up online at
  • Online – people are now able to pay online at by Direct Debit or with a debit or credit card
  • To find out more about paying in weekly instalments over the counter, online, by SMS or by phone using the TV Licensing Payment Card view payment methods.
  • Debit or credit card over the phone - this facility accepts payment from a range of debit cards including Maestro, Delta and Connect
  • By post – send a cheque made payable to TV Licensing to: TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL
  • BACS: Businesses can pay by BACS electronic transfer. Please phone
    0300 790 6124 for more information

For more information about any of our payment options, to set up Direct Debit payments or to pay over the phone by debit or credit card please call 0300 790 6063.


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