Basic TV licence - need to check

Hi - basic question about the TV licence.

I have a TV in my living room which I don't watch live TV on - just netflix and amazon prime as and when.

Am I right in thinking I don't need a TV licence?

What do I do if TV licence come round - and ask if I have a TV?

Thanks, Tim
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  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,134
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    edited 29 June 2021 at 5:22PM
    Correct.   (If you are not watching scheduled broadcast TV channels or iplayer, then you don't need a Licence).   Be aware that some authorities say that watching live sport on Amazon Prime requires a Licence (but it's unclear whether this is true or not - and also what the criteria are (e.g. is it only coverage that is also being shown on a broadcast TV channel)).

    There is a wealth of fact and folklore out there about the TV Licensing enforcement can of worms.     Check out some of these videos, they are mostly pretty helpful:  
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3kKkL1smb68BGeT_sEBDRQ  (may contain strong language).

    If TV Licensing come round, you have no obligation to talk to them, and there is no advantage to doing so.   
  • timrichards
    timrichards Posts: 23
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    Hi Cornucopia, thank you for that :)

    I saw that if TV licencing turn up, they may try to trick you into asking if you have a TV or not.

    What does one say if I do have one, but don't use it for live broadcasts?

    If I say "Yes" they may want to come in? And if I say no they could get a warrant?
  • wongataa
    wongataa Posts: 2,596
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    If TV licensing turn up don't let them in or say anything.  They have no right of entry into your premises.  They cannot get a warrant for your refusal to let them in.
  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,134
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    edited 30 June 2021 at 8:50PM
    Hi Cornucopia, thank you for that :)

    I saw that if TV licencing turn up, they may try to trick you into asking if you have a TV or not.

    What does one say if I do have one, but don't use it for live broadcasts?

    If I say "Yes" they may want to come in? And if I say no they could get a warrant?
    One of the things that newcomers to this topic find tricky is the fact that TV Licensing have no legal powers in their day-to-day activities.   We get so conditioned to the idea that official communications are always true and come from a position of authority, that when one comes along that isn't, it can be quite hard to accept.

    Because they lack legal powers, there's no legal requirement to deal with them, and as I said, I don't think there's any benefit in doing so.   I'd say avoid talking to them.   In fact, you don't even need to answer the door.

    If you don't speak to them, there's no possibility of them asking whether you have a TV or not.   Doing that, or even answering that question and refusing them entry are not justification for a Warrant.

    TVL Warrants are extremely rare, anyway, and are generally reserved for situations where there is pre-existing evidence for the offence, and householders have been extremely unco-operative.

    Alternatively, you can exercise your legal rights in advance, for example by telling TV Licensing that if they wish to interview you under caution, you will decline, or you will require legal counsel - both of these are fundamental rights in this form of questioning.  
  • powerful_Rogue
    powerful_Rogue Posts: 7,465
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    edited 30 June 2021 at 7:57PM
    Hi Cornucopia, thank you for that :)

    I saw that if TV licencing turn up, they may try to trick you into asking if you have a TV or not.

    What does one say if I do have one, but don't use it for live broadcasts?

    If I say "Yes" they may want to come in? And if I say no they could get a warrant?

    Knock Knock, Ding Dong
    You: Hello?
    Them: Hello, I'm from TV Licencing
    You: Sorry, Not interested.
    Close door.

    Job done.
    There is NO offence of owning a TV. I have 4 of them. None of them used to receieve live broadcasts or view iPlayer.
  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,134
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    Knock Knock, Ding Dong
    You: Hello?
    Them: Hello, I'm from TV Licencing
    You: Sorry, Not interested.
    Close door.

    Job done.
    Yep.

    Another common scenario:-

    TVL:  Knock knock
    You:  Hello?
    TVL:  Are Mr./Ms. {Name from their records}
    You:  Who's asking?
    TVL:  I can't say until you say who you are.
    You:  Bye then.
    Shut the door.

  • timrichards
    timrichards Posts: 23
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    That's great, thank you for all your comments.

    Being totally paranoid and trying to cover all the bases - if my girlfriend invites them in despite my saying otherwise (I know!), and they see a TV - but I have detuned it and it is not connected to an ariel:-

    Is this is reason for them to get heavy?
    What are the rules about having a TV - does it have to de tuned or some other way to prove I'm not watching it.

    Thanks for helping with my angst! :)

  • Cornucopia
    Cornucopia Posts: 16,134
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    edited 1 July 2021 at 9:00AM
    That's great, thank you for all your comments.

    Being totally paranoid and trying to cover all the bases - if my girlfriend invites them in despite my saying otherwise (I know!), and they see a TV - but I have detuned it and it is not connected to an ariel:-

    Is this is reason for them to get heavy?
    What are the rules about having a TV - does it have to de tuned or some other way to prove I'm not watching it.

    Thanks for helping with my angst! :)

    Happy to help as far as I can.   (I remember being new to all of this once).

    The issue in dealing with TVL isn't really about them gaining entry.   These days, they are not likely to be seeking entry anyway.   They rarely assess equipment, and I doubt many of their staff are qualified to do it now.  

    The bigger "risk" is that their intention is to conduct an interview under caution on the doorstep, to document that interview on a form (TVL178) that presumes guilt, and thereby satisfy their performance target. 

    That's why not speaking to them is a good start - if you don't speak then they can't interview you, and as a bonus they (may) also lack a name for their form.   Legally this is a sound option and you obviously can't falsely incriminate yourself if you don't say anything.  If/when they caution you, your right to silence is firmly embedded in the interview rules, and the right to decline applies in the circumstances of the TVL interview.

    If the situation is causing you angst, you can write to them (possibly immediately after receiving a letter that threatens interview under caution) and tell them that you/every adult at the address intend to make full use of your PACE(*) rights if they fulfil that threat (to interview you).   I'd expect that to make them very wary of sending anyone to your door.   

    You can also confuse them further by saying that you would require a Solicitor to accompany you in any interview, and how do they propose to facilitate that on your doorstep?

    (*) PACE applies in England & Wales.

    edit:   Yes, do detune TV(s) that are capable of being detuned.  (Usually it just requires scanning for channels with no aerial connected).    You can also delete the iPlayer app from a smart TV if it will allow that.    It's extremely unlikely that you would ever have to prove any of this:  they are much more interested in (easy) self-incrimination rather than the much trickier question of whether a particular configuration is suspicious.
  • pbartlett
    pbartlett Posts: 1,397
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    also of course make sure no aerial attached etc
  • timrichards
    timrichards Posts: 23
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    Nice one, thanks for that :)

    Some excellent info.
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