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Watching TV Without a License?

Did you know a licence is needed to watch ordinary TV in the UK? As an American I wouldn’t have believed this could be true, but it has been since at least 2003.

The BBC is authorised by the Communications Act 2003 to collect and enforce the TV licence fee. Section 363 of the Act makes it against the law to install or use a television receiver to watch or record any television programmes as they are being broadcast without a TV Licence. Section 365 of the same Act requires the payment of the TV licence fee to the BBC.

Via Wikipedia

Is this license in part responsible for the fact that there are still thousands of black and white TVs in use?

It has been half a century since the dawn of colour television, but more than 7,000 people across the UK are still watching in black and white, according to TV Licensing.

Despite an increase in the use of smart televisions, as well as tablets and smartphones to access TV content, some 7,161 UK households are spurning modern technology and have not switched over to colour transmissions.

TV Licensing spokesman Jason Hill said: “Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet so it’s interesting that more than 7,000 households still choose to watch their favourite shows on a black and white telly.”

He also warned that licences are needed for all TVs, and also to download BBC programmes on any computer, tablet or phone.

Last month, TV Licencing said more than 26,000 people between the ages of 18 and 25 had been caught watching live TV or BBC iPlayer without a licence in the past year.

Via SkyNews

The phrase “watching TV without a license” makes me think I stumbled into the wrong universe. I have many questions,–like why not just call it a subscription service?–but because nobody there has done anything about this (other than stop watching,) I’ll just squint silently with incredulous puzzlement for a minute.

Not long ago all TV and radio you could pick up on the airwaves was free and unmonitored. If there was any problem with the content, such as false or misleading information on a news program, the broadcaster was held accountable. Advertising paid the bills. I think any other system we have come to in 2018 is strange. Further, at the risk of jeaprdizing my US Thinking, Speaking and Writing Licenses, I will venture to add, less good.

— Update

Here is an extra weird coincidence: I’ve been watching the BBC show Doctor Who on Amazon Prime, for weeks I think, and the day after writing this article I just saw an episode at the end of the first season where the Doctor, in a human future gone wrong, says he never paid for a license to watch TV. The character responding says, “… but the penalty for that is execution!” Freaky. Did I, due to a quirk of the simulation, have a clue yesterday about what I would see today when I wrote the post? I wasn’t even aware that Doctor Who was a BBC show until today, but what else would it be? So, tomorrow some coincidence will happen with a gang of kangaroos? Life is strange.


About Xeno

E pluribus unum.


2 thoughts on “Watching TV Without a License?

  1. The BBC doesn’t show adverts and never has done, the license is how it’s been funded since 1946. Another quaint British custom.

    Posted by Anonymous | 9 Nov 2018, 2:23 am

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