Is it illegal to watch TV without a TV licence? Full list of punishments and fines for breaking the law

THE TV licence fee is often a controversial topic.

Friday, 20th May 2022, 5:25 pm

Nadine Dorries has recently indicated she wanted to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.

The culture secretary also announced a two year freeze on funding for the national broadcaster.

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The BBC logo is seen at BBC Broadcasting House. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The BBC has previously come under fire over the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s, with a grace period on payment because of the Covid-19 pandemic having ended on July 31.

Only those who receive pension credit do not have to pay the annual sum.

But if you were wondering if you need to pay the licence fee and what the punishments are if you don’t, we’ve pulled together a handy guide.

Here’s all you need to know:

Do you need to pay the licence fee to watch TV?

Yes, if you want to watch live TV in the UK you need to pay the licence fee.

You also need to to live stream TV as it is airing via streaming services such as ITV Hub, All4, YouTube or Amazon Prime – for example to watch football matches on the later.

Do you need to pay the licence fee to use BBC iPlayer?

If you watch to watch or download anything from iPlayer you need to have paid the licence fee.

If I just use Netflix do you need to pay the licence fee?

If you're streaming on-demand movies or TV shows on Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Netflix or YouTube (or any other online video service) you don't currently need to pay the licence fee.

What are the punishments for watching TV without licence?

If you haven’t got a TV licence, then you are breaking the law if:

- You watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or

- You download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand

You could be prosecuted if we find that you have been watching, recording or downloading programmes illegally.

The maximum penalty is a £1,000 fine plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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