Watching TV doesn't stop when the 9 to 5 starts

Businesses and business owners should make sure they are correctly licensed for TV as viewing figures indicate employees are watching live television while at work.

TV Licensing's reminder today comes in the wake of recent BBC iPlayer figures which show five of the top 20 live TV programmes viewed via the platform last year were televised during business hours, and those watching numbered more than 800,000.

Employers may not be aware the viewing is happening but if an employee is caught watching TV illegally, the business or the employee may be held liable and fined up to £1,000.

A TV Licence is required if anyone - staff or customers - watches or records TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV, whether on a TV, tablet, computer or any other type of equipment.

In 2013 TV Licensing enquiry officers visited more than 33,000 businesses across the UK, ranging from takeaway restaurants and holiday parks to garages, hair salons and sports clubs, to confirm if they were correctly licensed.

Stephen Farmer, TV Licensing spokesperson said:

With services such as BBC iPlayer and 4oD streaming live TV it can be tempting to watch major televised occasions or sporting events sat at your desk during the working day.  But employers and employees need to be aware of their TV Licensing requirements if they are watching live TV in the workplace.
Rather than risk being prosecuted and facing a fine, we would rather business owners and managers take a few moments to review and update their licensing requirements.  A licence costs £145.50 and can be bought in minutes online at

To help businesses and staff understand the legal implications of watching programmes live at work, TV Licensing has produced a downloadable “TV in the Workplace” guide.  The guide allows managers to outline whether the business is covered by a TV Licence and whether staff and customers are allowed to watch TV in the workplace.  Download the template at

The funeral of Baroness Thatcher, on a Wednesday morning in April, was the most watched live programme via iPlayer in 2013 reaching over 830,000  people.  Andy Murray’s quest to reach his second Wimbledon final also had viewers tuning in during the working day to watch the quarter and semi-final matches which were played over two weekday afternoons in early July.

The top five live workplace TV events in 2013:

1 The funeral of Baroness Thatcher 
2 Wimbledon 2013, day 9   
3 Wimbledon 2013, day 11   
4 Golf: The Open 2013, day 2  
5 Golf: The Open 2013, day 1  


Statistics provided by BBC iPlayer, January 2014

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: