back to article Wi-Fi Beeb viewing may break law

Users of the BBC's trial of TV-over-Wi-Fi networks will break the law if they plug in their mobile phones in locations not covered by a television licence, the TV Licensing Authority has warned. The BBC has begun a beta trial of live television over Wi-Fi networks. The owners of phones with Wi-Fi connections can go online and …


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  1. Conor Turton
    Thumb Down

    Stuff em

    I think there's plenty of people who are sick enough of "The unique way the BBC is funded" as it is without the TLA pursuing people who might watch the BBC on their iPhone or whatever. It is absolutely reprehensible that someone can actually be sent to prison for not paying a forced subscription for a set of television channels that they might not even watch.

  2. Gabriel Vistica

    Television license?

    And I thought Microsoft was bad! The BBC has them all beat!

  3. Craig Vaughton

    Isn't it about time..

    Why should we be the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV and support a single TV company as a result? One which makes money be reselling a host of things paid for by this tax, whilst its competitors either have to charge a subscription or host adverts, or both?

    Time to stop funding Auntie and force it to play by the same rules as everyone else. Or will axing the TV Licensing agency upset to many civil servants?

  4. Jacqui

    TVL - not to be trusted

    These are the same folks who forced a local small business to fork out 400UKP per annum simply because company laptops had DVB tuners onboard.

    TVL guidelines state that portable self powered devices are exempt but insisted that these laptops require *individial* TV licences and threatened court action unless the business forked out.

    TVL will bend the law going as far as assault to get thier money.

  5. Andrew Barratt

    Time for the law to change

    Any one else thing that the BBC should have their licensing law ditched. Or changed so that it doesn't matter where you are or what you are plugged in to. If you have a license you get to watch the content.

    If the AA can implement a "your the member not the car" surely the beeb can do "your the license payer, not the household".

    Why are the bbc pratting around wasting license payers money on this sort of a service... WE WANT QUALITY TV not more platforms to watch the existing crap on.

  6. Ralph

    If only it worked...

    I tried this service with my 3G iPhone, but only got the response, "Your device appears to be unable to support this service".

    I contacted the BBC to find out why, and received this reply:

    "Unfortunately, we can't currently make live television or radio available for the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch as they don't support streaming of live channels."

    If this is the case, why am I able to listen to a range of live radio programs on the iPhone from other sources? Why is it that the one service I directly pay for - through licensing fees - can't deliver what others are serving up for free?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha

    ...crank-up the licensing vans FUD-O-Meter to 11 :~P

  8. richard tanswell
    Thumb Down


    Now what if you were at an address wthout a TV licence, you were watching the streams on your mobile but were running out of juice so plugged your mobile into your laptop to charge it? Is it legal to do this provided the laptop is not plugged into the mains?

    Such a grey area really. Also, what if that "mobile device" being used at home to view telly via wifi took you to over the 4 TV allowance. Illegal again or only until you plug it into the mains?

    What about if your neighbour had managed to hijack your wifi and watched BBC over wifi but they didn't have a licence? Are they legal?

    I know chances of prosecution are pretty low, how they are ever going to catch someone on any wifi network and prove they had their mobile plugged in but the site had no valid licence is beyond me!

    To be honest, BBC's programs are so shite these days that if I am taking a dump, I certainly won't want to be watching BBC over wifi on my mobile. I'd rather play Snake thanks (the phone game, not my penis thank you!)

  9. Deckard

    Hmm...let me guess...

    They're going to suggest a licence per handset model perhaps?

    If I've read the story correctly, then I personally would get fined if I plug in my smartphone into a premises that didn't have a licence?! So...what am I meant to do? Buy a licence for every un-licenced place I walk into?

    A licence per person model wouldn't work either as you'd need 2.4 if you and your family wanted to watch TV of an evening. way to try and claw even more money out of us is for the BBC to offer a licence per handset model at the very reasonable price of £5 per month or something...or risk a fine of £1,000 for plugging in your phone.

    I wish I could fine people £1,000 if they didn't buy my product but instead decided to go with one of the many free alternatives out there....

  10. Andrew Oakley

    Licence covers hand held TVs away from home

    Absolute tosh. The TV licence clearly states that you can watch TV away from home using a TV that has its own batteries contained within the device. This exemption has been in place since the Casio hand-held TVs of the late 70s / early 80s.

    You show me a mobile phone that doesn't contain its own batteries within its case, and I'll show you an aging pre-GSM car-phone that can't receive video anyway.

  11. Edward Miles

    Where the mains is eh?

    This gives me an idea! A true cunning plan as Baldrick would put it. I can't tell you what it is, for you'll just copy me...

    Coat please. Mine's the one with the 300 mile extension cable in the pocket...

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Andy ORourke

    Doesnt seem to support

    too many phones at the moment.

    Also if you REQUIRE a TV licence to view it do the BBC propose to put some kind of security on it like, oh I dont know, maybe requiring you to enter your TV licence number (it's all in the database!) before you connect to the streams?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    This doesn't add up

    "The TV Licensing Authority said that 98 per cent of UK households have televisions, and that the licence evasion rate is five per cent."

    Does that mean that 98% of people have a TV license and 5% don't?

    Or does it mean that 98% of people now have a TV license but 5% of those had to be taken to court for not having a license? That seems a trifle high.


    Paris. Just because.

  15. Juan Inamillion
    Black Helicopters


    "The TV Licensing Authority said that 98 per cent of UK households have televisions, and that the licence evasion rate is five per cent."

    Evasion? I assume they mean 5 per cent of the 98 per cent are 'evading' licensing. How do they work that out? How do they know? If they 'know' then surely they'd be following up their obnoxious, threatening "we know where you live" letters, in which they threaten to send the boys round because they just know that there MUST be a TV in the house and 'we'll come in and have a little look round to make sure you haven't got one'.

    Guilty until proven innocent.

    If they come round my place they'll get a 'good look round' mark my words...

    Bunch of twunts.

  16. Dan

    Oh please...

    This is getting ridiculous. The idea that I could be fined for charging my mobile while round at a friend's home, just because they don't watch TV, is absurd.

  17. Rogers

    IT's about bloody time...

    ....that they scrapped the licence and paid the beeb out of general taxation. Le't s face it, 99.9% of us watch TV, so stuff the 0.1% who don't.

    It would save millions on actually having to enforce and collect licence fees. No...... wait...... Ahh that's why the bastards continue with this pile of pants scheme - they're doubtless making more on fining people that from the licence themselves

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Beginning of the end

    And this kind of insanity is why the era of the TV licence is drawing to a close. Things are getting too adhoc and flexible, and when combined with the rise of subscription TV - well its only a matter of time before its scrapped.

    If I was the BBC I'd be looking at how I could produce ad-free TV via low priced subscription. Maybe they shouldn't have made all those Freeview boxes smartcard less?

  19. Chris


    Just wow. It's times like this I'm glad I don't live in the UK. You have a license, but you're breaking the law if you plug your phone in to power outside of your house and watch a BBC provided service on it. Seriously, wtf is that? You pay your monies, but you can't watch the shows - and not only that, it's a CRIMINAL offense?

    Just wow.

  20. Steve Foster

    Scrap the TV Licence

    It's past time the TV Licence was abolished.

    There's an interesting anti-licence site here:

  21. John Watts

    It's not just us

    Every country has a state run TV channel don't they?

    So the people in those countries must pay for it. The difference is that here you can choose not to.

    I think it's fair to say that the money that the BBC gets paid benefits the country more than the cost in straight taxes, even if you don't watch telly.

  22. Michael Fremlins

    Abolish the licence

    What are they afraid of? The BBC love to tell us that BBC is fantastic television. In which case people will pay for it, won't they? Or is the BBC actually a load of rubbish? Does it live in cloud-cuckoo bbcland, where everything is peachy?

    I watch the television about once a month now, and that's only when I really can't find anything else to do. Soon I will get rid of my TV and save myself the licence fee. No doubt some jack-booted licence enforcers will knock at my door and I will have to prove I don't have a TV.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's a novel idea...

    You could throw the television out of the window and do something other than let your life drift by in the prozac glow of your 50" idiot box.

    Ha, only joking: stay at home, out of my way.

  24. James

    You ALL need to realise.......

    ......that without paying the TV licence; the BBC would not be able to make quality programmes as they are doing year in year out! (of course I'm not including Eastenders in this assessment). Lets not loose Doctor Who just because the internet KIDZ (Yes I mean kids who don't understand the economics of TV) want to STEEL from us ALL!!!!!

    Come on people lets support quality programming.....if you don't then it won't survive and we'll all be SO bored!!

  25. Andy Silver badge

    Re: Isn't it about time..

    You certainly aren't "the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV and support a single TV company as a result".

    In France it's called the Redevance Audiovisuelle, and it funds France Télévisions. Astonishingly, the buggers carry advertising as well! And it really is a tax, collected by the tax office - they assume you have a telly and add it to your local tax bill unless/until you can prove otherwise.

    Wikipedia lists 35 countries with TV licence regimes.


  26. Anonymous Coward

    BBC proliferation

    I don't think that the BBC should be branching out into internet etc with my license money. They are distorting the market (look at ITV!) and ignoring the core purpose which is to produce GOOD TV & radio. The internet should be limited to the news offering.

    Make good dramas. Make good documentaries (not music montages with ooo some science stuff!). Make good radio.

    Value for money is rubbish cf. Sky. The only thing I watch on the BBC is Heroes, gave up on the documentaries years ago yet I am still obliged to pay the fee.

    Where's a monopolies commission when you need one?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Jack booted men from the Beeb

    I have work for a video production company. In our offices we have various TV's VCR's and DVD recorders all with TV tuners in. None of which are plugged into an aerial because they are all used in the course of our work.

    We are in a vicious cycle of getting letters from TV licensing saying they are going to call and we are bad people. We used to phone up and explain what we did but the letters just keep on coming. They are now threatening to visit us in order to catch us out.

    Meanwhile none of the devices are tuned, the building has no aerial (portable aerials wouldn't work in anycase as we're in a valley 35 miles from the transmitter) and we have a perfectly reasonable excuse for buying equipment that has tuners in (we use domestic DVD recorders for quick copying and have a some domestic CRT TV sets that are used for confidence monitors).

    I have no idea what planet these people live on but we've given up trying to reason with them. I half expect them to jump through the door, go "aha" while pointing at a piece of equipment and then start writing tickets like traffic wardens! I'd rip the bloody tuners out of the kit except that would destroy any warranties as well as resale value!

  28. The Mighty Spang


    "In order to use BBC LiveTV/Radio, you must have a full colour TV licence"

    shouldnt be any restrictions on radio

  29. Poopie McStinklestein


    @Andrew Barratt

    "If the AA can implement a "your the member not the car" surely the beeb can do "your the license payer, not the household"."

    I'm afraid that when someone can't tell the difference between your and you're, I stop reading, and take no notice of what they've said.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Isn't it about time.. stopped believing everything you read in the Daily Mail...

    ...and find out which countries support certain TV channels with a TV license, eg: Finland, Sweden, Norway and France for a start...

    See, easy wasn't it...15 seconds it took me including the page loading times for Google and Wikipedia...

    I guess you've been watching "quality" advertiser funded TV....*relatively* however the BBC are excellent....worrying really.

    Paris...well because I like to pay for quality TV like Jaqui's husband.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I don't mind paying the license fee - but I do object to the way it is enforced. I agree with the person who said "If you are paying a license fee, you're covered". It is not, after all, for me to be aware whether a location I go to and plug my phone into is covered or not. Completely unreasonable.

    I tried to use the service on my Nokia N95 - had the response that my device seemed "unable" to receive the service. So I won't be breaking the law anyway.

    Ah well, I'll just stick to listening to streaming radio on my Evoke Flow and watching the odd TV program on my computer over the Internet.



  32. Jeremy

    If they're right...

    ...then the TV licensing laws are as stupid as we all know they are and desperately need updating for the 21st century. That's a very big 'If' though. I wouldn't trust the TVLA to be 'right' about anything, the useless, stupid, intimidating buch of muppets that they are...

  33. Petrea Mitchell
    Paris Hilton

    Is it the definition of "at"?

    So is the issue here that some law defines "at such-and-such location" by where the TV is plugged in?

    If you're visiting a friend in a different part of the country, does that fall under the "travelling" exception or do they not count because their house is not a public or commercial space of some sort? (Suppose you visit a hotel owned by your friend near where you live?)

    Paris because I feel like I understand this about as well as she does.

  34. eurobloke

    @ Craig

    You say that we are unique in this TV tax, but Sweden with SR/SVT , Finland with YLE, and the Czech Republic with ČR/ČT have a licence together with no adverts. Many countries in Europe have a public broadcaster that is funded by a TV licence (although many have a small amount of advertising on the box or on the web) like France, Germany and Switzerland.

    Compared with other public broadcasters, the Beeb is a fine example with many places often you find BBC shows in their schedules, and it is one of the few broadcasters that breaks the American hegemony in worldwide broadcasting, so back off.

  35. Dave Bell

    Same old story

    The TV Licensing Authority is a bunch of liars.

    5% evasion? I know people who don't have TVs who get hassled. And have you noticed how they claim to have a reliable database?

    Times are changing. I think we have better TV because of the BBC, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that the TVLA is already a liability. The BBC employs them: why can't the BBC tell them to shut up.

  36. Steve

    @Craig Vaughton

    > Why should we be the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV

    You're kidding, right? The US is about the only country without a TV licence, most if not all EU countries pay a licence (higher than the UK) *and* pay for advertising as well.

    If the BBC isn't funded by a specific licence fee, there are two choices:

    1) It can go commercial. Since the amount of advertising money available won't double overnight the obvious result will be a drop in available money for all channels, and a drop in programme quality. Bear in mind that in the days before Sky etc. the average household paid *twice as much* in their shopping bills to fund the ITV channels as it did in licence fee to support the BBC.

    2) Second option is to fund the BBC from general taxation rather than a separate licence. The big problem there is that it becomes a line item in the budget. Parliament can't vote on budget items separately, only yes/no on the whole budget. It is unlikely that a whole budget will be rejected just because parliament thinks that the BBC funding is wrong, and the budget is set by *Government*, not *Parliament*, so the effect of funding the BBC from general taxation is that BBC funding is then set by the government of the day. The dangers in that are obvious, I hope.

    Funding of a state broadcaster should be determined by Parliament not Government. Of course, there is a question of whether there should be a state broadcaster. Personally I think that there should be, and that it should produce higher-quality output than much of the cr@p the BBC currently produces.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Yet another stealth tax

    Great. So I buy a "smart" phone with Wifi enabled and get a £1000 fine because it is capable of receiving TV signals, even though I never use the service. I really don't know why they bother licensing per address, just change it so anyone over 18 has to pay £30 a year.

    Also would probably help if they introduced a "pay per use" system, so students etc can pay £5 a week for watching TV.

    Just my $0.04 worth ($0.02 increased due to inflation)

  38. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Same for DVB for laptops

    I had a similar conversation a few years ago when I was inquiring about a DVB tuner on a laptop. It is illegal if it is plugged in to the mains outside of the house that the license is for, unless that location has a license that covers it.

    One of the most stupid pieces of legislation I have ever heard.

    Also, if you have a shared occupancy dwelling, like a student house, you need a separate license for each room where one of the occupants has a television, plus one for the communal area. Talk about greedy. You can only have a multiple televisions in a house on one license if everyone is a member of the same family. So, if you have a lodger in your house, they need a license as well!

    I'm not actually against the license, as it allows the BBC to do things that otherwise would not be done (I cannot fathom a situation where Rupert Murdoch controls what television programs are made), but the heavy handed and way it is applied gets my goat.

    Also, in every mail, they asked me what the number of the television license was for my house. They would not take my word that I actually had a license.

  39. Geraint

    Old news

    I don't see what all the fuss is about. That "we'll now arrest you" loophole has always been there and hold for anyone with a portable tv (who plugs it in because the battery has died) and anyone with a laptop computer with a tv-card, for example.

    It another of those dated systems/laws that somewhat needs upgrading in my opinion...

  40. John A Blackley


    Isn't Britain wunnerful? Why, the place is so quaint and old-timey that they even employ folks to think up laws just to make us other people smile! Imagine! A tax that requires them to watch tv only in one place. Who wouldn't smile about that? /sarc off

    Of course the license fee should be abolished. Will it be> Nope. Not so long as there are so many long beaks depending on its existence.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    "Law remains exactly the same as it was in 1982 with portable televisions" is news now?


    Holy shit! I still have to pay VAT on things! And a bear has just shit in the woods!

  42. David Richardson

    Am I the only person

    That is happy to pay a licence fee so that I can watch the TV without adverts, even my paid for TV barrages me with adverts every 15 minutes.

  43. David Haworth
    Thumb Down

    @Craig Vaughton: You are not alone

    The UK isn't the only country to have a TV license. Germany has one too.

  44. Richard Porter
    IT Angle


    How do you plug into mains electricity on a train, plane or boat? Surely you're connected to a local generator or inverter, unless of course it's an electric train and the 230v supply is derived directly by transforming the traction current. If it's a motor-generator set, then the power is transmitted mechanically so you are not connected to the mains.

    Of course you could be watching tv using one battery whilst charging another one from the mains. You don't need a tv licence to charge a battery. What happens if the power is transmitted to your PDA by an induction charging system so there is no metallic connection?

  45. Private Citizen

    Aussies killed TV licence in the 1970's

    Your TV licence system also limits the BEEB ability to host websites for its international successes like Doctor who and Torchwood. Outsiders have to go to international fansites for any information as the BEEB blocks content to those outside of UK. I am surprised you can afford the enforcement regime. Cant find a copper unless they are confusing you for a terrorist or a protestor but no shortage of licence enforcers.

    Our Parliament decided to cut the TV Licence back in the seventies and fund the ABC (and later SBS) from the budget. They thought TV was essential was to development of the Nation. Not only that they could not afford the enforcers, who were quickly getting a reputation worse than secret police, sitting in your suburb hunting for the telltale glow of a TV through the curtains.

    As our ABC has become the Authoritative TV and News service in our Nation, we as a population have to defend it vigorously , it is often affected by across the board budget cuts and it does not have the spare cash to create lavish blockbusters like the BBC. Politicians also like to think they can subdue it by threatening it budget.

    I remember the TV licence guy police coming to the door, me keeping the door closed while my mum covered the TV with a large doily. The TV's wooden casing had been painted to match the dark burgundy of the furniture.

  46. Paul
    Black Helicopters

    Not all options covered

    Premises + you have license, plugged in - ok regardless of batter or mains.

    Premises have license, you don't , plugged in - ok?

    Premises have license, you don't , not plugged in - breaking the law?

    Premises no license, you do, not plugged in - ok.

    Premises no license, you do, plugged in - breaking the law

    Neither premise nor you have license - breaking the law regardless of battery or mains.

    Does that make any logical sense? How does where a device get its power from (battery or mains) make a difference? The law is an ass.

    And detector vans are in your area!

  47. David Lear

    TV Lying Authority

    OH CRAP ! The TV Lying Authority are just trying it on again, what REALLY will happen is that is that the owner of the cafe with the WiFi connection lovingly set up for his customers is going to be severally and jointly liable along with the customer and until poodle Britain wakes up to this latest scam to fleece its good folk.

    Why ? Simple - because the WiFi handset is NOT a complete receiver of such signals WITHOUT the host WiFi internet apparatus. and this means ..............................

    ALL WiFi enabled routers will require a TV Licence to allow them to comply and so on until all types of connection are covered with a TV Ly-Sense

    After all those lovely Beeb babes (and EXs) such as Ross and Brand are high maintenance types that require a means as unpleasant as their banter to be funded

    And WHY would they put out such a release ANYWAY ? Obvious they are testing the water again

    AKA taking the piss

    Yep, that's the TV Lying Authority rifling your wallet again !!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV licence only required for live viewing why don't they just stream it 30s behind?

  49. Jack the Ripper
    Thumb Up

    Licence fee

    There is a lot of criticism of the BBC that I feel is unjustified. The BBC produce some great stuff in comparison to the mindless dross churned out by the other broadcasters in the UK (they also produce some pretty dire content). I don't know about everywhere, but the free-to-air TV that I have watched in the US and parts of Europe can't hold a candle to the Beeb. The greatest thing of all is the lack of adverts (esp now that F1 is back where it belongs), which imnsho is worth the licence fee alone. That doesn't even start to think about the radio services provided...

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    License/Subscription Costs

    I don't particularly watch BBC1/BBC2 or BBC4. I do watch programmes for BBC3 and my children watch CBeebies/CBBC.

    If we were going to pay for particular channels instead of an overall fee then what do you reckon that would be? Personally, I could see them charging maybes £5/month for CBeebies and maybe £7 for BBC3 based on other channel packages from the likes of BT Vision, SKY and Cable. In total- it would probably end up costing more in packages than a single license. The only other option would be a set-top box that displayed and upscaled BBC IPlayer. I don't particularly want to watch TV on my mobile (tried it yesterday and its blocky and small) on my HTC S710 nor do I want to watch it on my home PC. I can see the benefit for people with media centres.

    Personally, I'd just rather pay the full value of the license for all BBC channels. It would be cheaper than doing them in "packages" like the other pay-per-view subscribers.

  51. George Shaw

    Becareful what you wish for.... you really think the BBC is expensive.... compare it with Sky or Virgin.... and they don't even MAKE any programs... and do you really think advertising is free??? pay for everything in the end... at least with the licence fee you know how much you pay, and what you get...

    ...and it's not the BBC that make the rules... it's government legislation... in fact it's not even a licence to watch the BBC, it's a licence to receive broadcast TV signal of any sort... the money doesn't have to go to the BBC, the government just chooses to give it too them... you really believe that if the BBC went to other funding methods, the government would get rid of this income stream... would they feck...

  52. Dave Edmondston

    So by their logic

    We may as well arrest all tourists to the country that charge their phones, most mobile phone shop salesmen, just about everybody with a phone charger at work - come to think of it, most of the population of the country.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Time for the licence to go

    I used to work for the company that prints the licences (hence AC) and from my experiences, I can tell you that it is one seriously shoddily run organisation, along with the advertising agency in central London (proximity) which writes the copy that goes on the threatening letters, and obviously Crapita who 'manage' the whole soddy database and call centres.

    It wouldn't upset me one jot if all these companies lost their TVL business. I suspect a significant portion of the license fee goes to them rather than the BBC anyway.

  54. g e

    Make the BBC stand on its own two feet.

    Nuff said.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost of TV licence

    Odd how some people moan about the TV licence and the Beeb - I pay more per year for internet access ... and even though I work in TV .. I would pay the full licence just for Radio 4.

    And yes I hate the way the TVL operate as well.

    Someome recently said to me that DTT shold have gone subscription/card based when it started in place of the licence fee.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andrew Oakley

    "Absolute tosh. The TV licence clearly states that you can watch TV away from home using a TV that has its own batteries contained within the device. This exemption has been in place since the Casio hand-held TVs of the late 70s / early 80s"

    Not quite. The exemption is that is that you can do this provided that the set is POWERED by batteries contained within the device. In other words, a portable device away from home.

    What is happening is that you powering the device from the mains at a site other than your home, NOT the batteries. This is why the exemption does not apply - as soon as you use the mains supply you are no longer deemed to be using a portable device away from home.

    But yes, the exemption has been in place for years. Nobody ever reads the small print.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same old story

    Why do so many bodies try to make existing laws and/or contracts apply to new technology, rather than rewriting those laws and contracts to encompass the new technology?

    I'm sure there is a lot of money to be made by the legal profession. Here's an nice little question for them to debate: Is the mains directly powering the device or is the device running off battery while the mains charges the battery? That one should take a court case and various appeals and counter appeals to settle.

    Not entirely sure about the mains thing anyway. I know a number of people who have TVs in caravans (as if the IT department doesn't have enough of a rep for being saddos) and those caravans plug into the mains at their sites. These people assure me that their TV license covers them for the TV in their caravan. Unless of course they've sneakilly changed the license terms recently.

    BTW the TLA aren't actually the BBC, but are wholly funded by the BBC and in effect owned by the BBC. However due to some impenetrable contractual nonsense they are not controlled by the BBC. You'll find weasel words like semi-autonomous if you look into it. Quite why the BBC shouldn't be allowed to collect the licence fee directly themselves I don't know, it would certainly be cheaper than setting up a seperate body like the TLA. Imagine telling the independent companies that they have to fund seperate companies to collect their advertising revenue.

    I bet the BBC's brass are totally unhappy about this. Why are they boosting this new service? Advertising. Trying to grab headlines about how they are keeping up with the times. Then the TLA jump on it when it isn't even a proper live service yet and thus taking those headlines for themselves. No doubt by the time this service goes live the license terms will have been re-written to include it. The TLA in the mean time are trying to justify their own existance and their funding. Didn't I hear recently that their funding will be up for review soon.

    @Ralph - so you were daft enough to buy one of those massively overpriced toys and now you're daft enough to admit it. Jolly good.

    And to those who say the BBC should be commercial. Since they already have the highest viewing figures I don't see that being a problem. The idea that commercial pressure would force them to produce shitty lowest common denominator programmes holds little water when you consider that nobody is watching the supposedly populist trash on the other channels.

  58. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    I'll exchange places with you

    Here in the US public television is supported by advertising. Ads interrupt the broadcast every few minutes. Channel identifiers are displayed in the lower right corner. Pop-up advertising takes up the lower third of the screen. During commercial breaks, the volume is often raised to uncomfortable levels. I would rather pay them off so I didn't have to look at it all.

  59. Edward Miles


    BBC license funded: Good.

    TVLA: Bad.

    Shouldn't take a genius in goverment to work out how to fix this.

    Unfourtunatly we only have clowns :(

  60. Anonymous Coward


    It's a criminal offence to *receive* broadcast television without a license regardless of if you (or even can) watch it or not.

  61. Kevin Johnston

    Riddle me this...

    All the talk here seems to be either battery or mains, but what if the 'mains' is simply a discrete 240V AC supply not connected to the national grid? Is that classed in the same way as batteries, or the discrete supply available on aircraft (most trains supply their AC power through links to the rail supply so don't count here)? Where I am living at the moment there is a water turbine producing the power but there is no overproduction selloff link so hence no connection to the national grid, is that still 'mains'?

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enforcement how?

    Regardless of whether the TVL is nonsensical tosh, enforcement is already a complete joke. As a no-TV having person I have long since given up responding to the interminable letters warning me I don't have a license. They don't stop coming if you tell them you don't have one, nor even when the bloke eventually does come round to 'check'.

    Can anyone imagine how it would be possible to enforce this interpretation of the rules? They might be able to identify you as having watched a live stream, but whether you were plugged in at the time? Can't imagine them hanging round in cafes looking suspiciously at anyone pulling out a power cord. Never going to happen, so not worth worrying about.

    More concerning for the likes of me is that any computer can now be classed as capable of watching live TV, whereas before only if it had a TV tuner. If they start enforcing that I may well end up being forced to buy one. I'll claim ignorance at least until its out of beta.

  63. Anonymous Coward

    TV license peculiarities

    A couple of interesting points perhaps....

    1) Some types of UPS (the expensive ones) emit mains type power but it's not mains power. This is because the batteries are charged from the mains, and the output power from the unit is created from the batteries via an inverter. These devices are popular in situations where mains power is of a poor quality (poor phase, varying voltate etc)

    2) From what I remember though it's not about batteries or mains it is about an internal power supply. The law hasn't changed, but the TVL do change the interpretation of it from time to time. Therefore the UPS in point 1 does need a license under the old definition but under a new definition of mains powered, it could be argued that it does not need a license.

    3) For people selling tv equipment, you can license the business for free. TV shops, computer shops, tv repair shops, etc - they all need registering for a tv license but it's free. You will be given excel spreadsheets and booklets and you must record each and every sale and pass the details on to TVL

    4) Under the old definition, you needed a license for devices capable of receiving a signal. This used to mean removing tuners etc. This is not pushed as much now though. The reason perhaps for this is that many mobile phone users, laptop users and computer users now have a device which is capable of receiving live tv signals.

    5) The actual law though talks about radio signals and doesn't really mention the internet in the slightest. Therefore, watching even live tv over the internet may not require a license. However if you are using wi-fi to watch live tv, then broadcasting and receiving is taking place so it could be argued that you need a license.

    There are a LOT of grey areas but the law is usually reasonable. TVL though may not be. If in doubt talk to them and get it in writing - I've tried on a number of occasions but they don't like to put stuff in writing.

    However, the BBC website states quite clearly that you do not need a license to watch the stuff on iplayer. Therefore, stay away from live stuff and you don't need to worry.

    You can watch live telly at the local pub. You can buy a lot of pints for the price of a sky subscription and tv license.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    Don't give the stupid more intelligence!

    I can't help but worry that the TV licencing bods are probably one of these organisations which have access to our email traffic: will writing an email to the BBC about a program you saw at your mates lead to TV Licencing sending a heavy round to a house without a TV? When I didn't have a TV they had no compunction of writing rudely regularly, and turning up on the flimsiest of pretexts. Apparently, if you say "Sir" to someone and wipe your feet, it's fine to do what the hell you like. I can only imagine the stupidity increasing if the stupid have access to more intelligence.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think...

    ... there's anything anybody can say about the BBC that hasn't already been said, and far more succinctly, by Ian Brown.

  66. Wortel


    The BBC's idea of forcing users to have a license, including it's manual (might I say violent) enforcement, even if they choose to barely or never use their content is severely antiquated.

    A revenue model where there is a place for advertisement, licensing out BBC content to TV/Radio providers that are not BBC, where users can choose what to see and what to pay for, is much better and actually not that modern anymore either as it has been in use for many years in other countries surrounding the UK.

    I suggest you write to your relevant authorities to get this to change.

  67. Andi

    Not convinced...

    I'm not convinced that users would be breaking any law, because unless the law changed while I wasn't looking, it covers appliances capable of receiving a TV signal (working or broken) within a property. A wireless signal is not a TV signal.

    If it were classed as a TV signal, then by the same rationale:

    - Having any equipment capable of receiving a signal (working or broken) in the house, whatever it was used for, would require a TV license.

    - I don't think there would be any cover for travelling, because as far as I remember this only covers black & white battery powered, small-screen TVs.

    Anyway, I've seen webcasting of TV programmes as a potential licensing issue since it first started.

  68. Vin
    Thumb Up

    Ah, the UK

    Where it's illegal to do anything and everything, and at the same time illegal to do nothing.

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