TV licence explained: What you can legally watch without paying the £159 fee

TV licence explained: What you can legally watch without paying the £159 fee

As explained on the TV Licensing website, which is the group which manages the licence, people need a licence if they watch or record programmes on a TV as they are broadcast. This includes all channels such as Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV etc as well as all “+1” channels. People will also need one if they watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service on any device.

Examples of these include ITV Hub, All 4, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go. 

Britons also need one if they download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer live, on catch-up or On Demand.

This applies to any device or provider a person uses, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, or digital box. 

However, people do not need a TV Licence if they are watching things on catchups that are not being shown live, although it is needed for watching BBC iPlayer.

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If someone wanted to watch a boxset of their favourite show that is All 4 then they will not need a licence as it is not being broadcast live. 

This means a person will not need a TV Licence if they are watching something on Netflix, DisneyPlus, Britbox or Youtube. 

Amazon Prime can be included in this group however if a person watches something such as live sport, which is being broadcast through the site, then they will need to pay. 

Britons are able to apply for a refund on their TV licence if they no longer need it again before its expiration date.


The application will ask for the name on the TV licence, the licence number, a person’s address and postcode.

People will also need to include the date from when the licence is no longer needed.

The site does also contain guidance to help those struggling with the application forms.

If accepted, TV Licensing will work out the refund and will try to issue it within 21 days of receiving the application.

If someone cancels their TV licence but were found to have been watching live TV then they could possibly face a fine of up to £1,000.

According to TV Licensing’s annual report for 2021-22, around 1.96 million households across the UK stopped paying the fee last year.

The report warned that the licence fee income could decline even more in the coming years as more people switch to streaming services.

Published at Wed, 17 Aug 2022 11:28:00 +0000