44% unaware TV Licence required to watch TV online

Millions of employees across the country could be set to down tools to enjoy next month’s World Cup, with every game streamed live online and many kicking off during UK office hours.  Yet many employers may not be licensed for staff to do so legally, TV Licensing has warned.

A poll of employers for TV Licensing reveals many are unsure of the licensing requirements. As many as 44% of the 1,500 managers responsible for office administration surveyed were unaware a licence is needed to watch programmes online at the same time as they’re shown on TV, although 90% knew they needed a licence to watch on a standard TV set.

A separate survey of over 500 UK employees indicated that more than one in three (35%) say they may watch TV at work using a computer or laptop. This means as many as 10 million UK workers could potentially be watching programmes online in this way. The survey found 29% of employees say they watch TV at their desks, second only to staff rooms (33%) as the most common work location for TV viewing.

A TV Licence is legally required if anyone – whether staff or customers - watches TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV, whether on a computer, TV or any other type of equipment. If an employee is caught watching TV illegally, the business may be held liable and fined up to £1,000.

The poll also shows more than two thirds (67%) of managers at licensed businesses think that those companies which need a licence but don’t buy one deserve to be punished. However, over half (53%) weren’t aware that watching TV illegally could result in a prosecution, and 29% think they would be let off with a warning.

TV Licensing enquiry officers will be out during the World Cup, visiting business premises identified as unlicensed.

Jon Shaw, TV Licensing spokesperson said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the World Cup without having to worry about the risk of a different kind of penalty.

“Some managers might assume if they don’t have a TV in the building, they don’t need to worry, but the rise of online TV means many more businesses need to be covered by a TV Licence nowadays.

“We’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk a court case and a fine. A licence costs £145.50 and can be bought in minutes online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/business.
Stephen Alambritis, Chief Spokesman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“The World Cup is one of the key diary dates for many people and employees and their staff will no doubt want to catch their team in action. Employers will not only need to make sure they put plans in place or staff to watch matches, but, as these figures show, they will need to make sure they are properly licensed and get a TV License for their business. It is vital that small firms and their employees understand and follow the law and avoid any risk of being prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.”


*Research conducted online among 503 UK employees and 1,527 employers, April 2010 (Boy on a Beach research).

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.

  • 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 www.tvlicensing.co.uk/directdebit
  • Online – people are now able to pay online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info 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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