Got a Computer? You’ll Need To Buy a £139.50 Licence | The Daily Dust delivering the best bric a brac, daily news and events with a British flavour


Live streaming of BBC1 and BBC 2 over the internet forces every PC owner to buy a TV licence.

The apparent good news that BBC1 and BBC2 are going to be streamed over the internet to people in the UK should be something to celebrate (see this report on BBC News). But there’s the small matter of the TV Licence fee, the yearly ‘Telly Tax’ of £139.50 that has to be paid by:

“You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they’re being shown on TV”

Take careful note. That’s not ‘if you use your PC’, that’s ‘if your PC could be used to watch live TV.’ Given the BBC will probably use the technology to use the iPlayer through a web page, that means every computer in the UK is now liable for the TV licence, even if they never watch the BBC live streaming service.

This is going to be a logistical nightmare – when shops sell a TV receiver they have to send the address details to the authorities. Will the same happen for every PC sold? £139.50 please. How about students, and those that don’t watch TV but use a computer for email, coursework, or talking to relatives in New Zealand? £139.50 please. Buying a new Nokia smart phone with the iPlayer pre-installed by your operator? £139.50 please.

Of course there is no national database of computer users in the UK. But there is a database that tracks all TV licence payees (and refuseniks). It won’t be long until everyone with a computer has to register with a government agency, and that’s a rather scary prospect.

Those of you with long memories may remember the Labour Government in 2005 exploring options to put in place a ‘compulsory levy on all households or even on ownership of PCs as well as TVs.’ Looks like they just got their wish by the back door.

7 Comments

  1. There is an alternative to the TV licence: A media completely controlled by corporate interest. Where nothing you see, hear or read is objective, because it all has to please corporate sponsors, or advertisers. Where reviews can only be published if they are favourable, because the publication needs the good grace of the creator of the thing being reviewed in order to get further review samples. Where reasoned objective debate is impossible. You can see this already in the US media, and we’ve damned near achieved it in the UK too. Getting rid of the licence fee will help us to finally reach this nadir of press independence.

  2. With respect, you could at least try to imagine other alternatives to the TV licence rather than just presenting and condemning one extreme example. The TV licence is just a way of funding the organisation; its charter should still guarantee impartiality, even with alternative sources of funding.

    Still, as you observe, standards have slipped even under a licence system. It could be argued that many of the problems the BBC has with ensuring objectivity are the result of pressures that are unrelated to commercial interests.

    In any case, whether you support it or not, the TV licence should not be used as an excuse to go fishing for other revenue opportunities; in this case to levy a tax on “TV capable” electronic goods.

  3. To the best of my knowledge there have not yet been any cases that consider the Internet to be a “broadcast” medium for television, so I do think the BBC are trying this one on. I do know that if you own a TV just to watch videos or DVDs then you must have the tuner removed from the TV. It’s easy enough to do and you can then show TV license inspectors that the TV cannot receive broadcasts.

    My own view is that the TV license became out of date the day that ITV started broadcasting however there simply isn’t the political will to consider paying for the BBC other than via a state-imposed tax. So we tax-payers will not only pay the tax but pay more tax to imprison people who don’t have a TV license.

  4. As the BBC does not get ALL the revenue from the license fee, they have been looking at other ways of getting revenue.
    BBC Worldwide sell episodes on iTunes, DVD, events and even audio tapes (still) pull money into the BBC.
    I doubt people will see a license fee when they purchase a computer, BBC3, BBC4, and Cbeebies are already streamed live.

    I forsee…..
    iplayer:
    Post broadcast streaming being freely available to uk residents,
    Live streaming controlled by login/registration with either TV license numbers (or a 15p/day subscription model).
    A subscription model for stream, drm-ed download for a global market.
    iTunes:
    More and more being made available.
    The license fee is 30 odd pence a day, I would rather give that straight to the BBC than through the Government, whichever way I decide to watch the content.

  5. So does this mean all businesses, both large and small, must now purchase a TV licence to remain within the law? That’s going to p1ss A LOT of people off.

  6. I came on line to gauge the level of reaction of other people to what I only learned today were TV licensing rules that say anyone who has a computer has to pay a license fee.
    What a absolute joke.
    Some people with a computer have no intention of watching iplayer or any other TV derived lowest-common-denominator-media… They can’t afford it.
    I have a TV license at my home address, but not at my work address, does that mean the law states businesses now need to have a TV license for their premises?
    It would almost be laughable, if it wasn’t so moronic a proposition.
    How do we opt out of the BBC?…
    Answers on a postcard…. Oh, no.. sorry…. Royal Mail are on strike again.

  7. Ok. I am going to refuse to pay if I am told to do so. I have not had a TV for over ten years. I do not need to be brainwashed by the bbc. I have a letter that came today saying I may need a license and to expect a visit. No problems but what about my computer? Do they have any rights to switch it on and search through my pc? Do they have any rights to contact my isp and ask for details of what I have uploaded/downloaded?
    Now the letter says to confirm that no type of receiver is being used to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV.
    Ok that clearly means a live stream and it clearly says being used. How can they prove that you watch the brain-dead bbc? This is ludicrous and I will refuse point blank to pay. Send me to prison I don’t give a shit. Am not ever gonna pay. This is barbaric attempt to defraud me. I do not want TV and I do not watch TV (other than at other people’s houses were I am forced to participate in the watching of mind numbing soaps that they broadcast) and I never intend to own a TV. I can think for myself and don’t need to be told I need a license for having a pc. Oh and if they try to touch my pc I will use necessary force to eject them from my premises. I will fight this through the courts if need be and challenge this. This is an outrage and I will challenge this at the European courts if the British courts decide I must pay.
    Is anyone else going to refuse? Is anyone with me on this? F%%% the BBC!

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