The laws governing the TV licence fee are changing. Previously, you only needed a TV licence if you watched live TV, but from September 1st, this is all change.
So do you need to buy a licence? And why is this happening? Read on, and all will be explained.
Who needs a TV licence?
Under previous rules, you didn't need a TV licence if you only watched BBC programmes on catch-up. This was known as the iPlayer loophole, as it allowed people to enjoy the BBC's programming without contributing to its funding via the licence fee.
And they did so perfectly legally, as long as they didn't watch it live.
But from September 1st, the rules change. Under the new regulations, you'll need a TV licence to download or watch BBC programmes on-demand, including on catch-up. Basically, if you use iPlayer at all, you need a TV licence.
You already needed a TV licence if you watch or record programmes on any channel as they are shown on TV, or watch them live using an online TV service.
What devices does this include?
All of them. So no matter if you watch on your phone, tablet, laptop, games console, set-top box or streaming box, if you're watching or recording anything live, or using iPlayer at all, you'll need a TV licence.
Who doesn't need a TV licence?
There are some exceptions. You don't need a licence to download or watch S4C TV on-demand through iPlayer, or to listen to radio through iPlayer.
You're also fine if the only telly you watch or download is from services other than iPlayer, like ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, BT Vision, Virgin Media, Sky Go (though you will need one for watching regular Sky channels), Netflix, Now TV, Roku's channel store or Amazon Prime Video.
Though remember, if you watch or download using iPlayer at all, even if it's through another provider like Freesat, YouView, Sky, Virgin Media or BT Vision, you will need a licence.
You'll also need one to watch iPlayer through streaming boxes like Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. And if you watch any live TV at all, or record shows as they're broadcast, you'll need to cough up for a licence.
How much does a TV licence cost?
A standard licence is £145.50 and lasts for a year. You can pay for it from the TV Licensing website. Licenses for black and white TVs are cheaper – call 0300 790 6165 to find out more.
Why is this happening?
Because the BBC was losing a lot of money in lost revenue from people not paying the licence fee.
What if you don't pay when you should and get caught?
You could face a fine of up to £1,000 (or up to £2,000 in Guernsey, or £500 in Jersey) plus any legal costs and/or compensation. So make sure you're on the right side of the law.
Is the law the same for students?
The law applies in exactly the same way, we're afraid. And remember, if you live in a shared house but have a separate tenancy agreement, you'll need your own TV licence. Them's the rules.
What if I already have a TV licence?
Then you're covered. Sit back and enjoy everything the Beeb has to offer, safe in the knowledge that you're a law-abiding citizen.