ANY household watching or recording live television in the UK must hold a TV licence.
As 3.7million pensioners are set to shoulder the costs from 2020, let's take a look at how you can avoid paying – legally.
Do I need a TV licence?
A colour TV licence currently costs £154.50 a year and is needed by anyone intending to watch or record TV programmes while they are being broadcast.
Live TV in this sense covers all programmes on any channel, including soaps, series, documentaries and even movies.
The rules apply if you watch shows live on any other device too – such as a PC, tablet or phone.
You also need a licence if you watch any BBC programmes or download them on demand including catch up TV on BBC iPlayer.
Doing any of the above without paying for either a colour or black and white licence – depending on what kind of television you have – is a criminal offence.
If you're caught without one you need to pay in full as soon as possible or risk prosecution plus a fine of up to £1,000 (or £500 if you live in Jersey, or £2,000 in Guernsey).
While you cannot be imprisoned for TV licence evasion, you can be jailed for non-payment of a fine imposed by the court.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence
THE following services are still openly (and legally) available to you – as long as you aren’t using them to watch live TV:
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
Can I legally watch TV without a TV licence?
Fortunately, there are ways to legally watch your favourite shows without paying the licence fee.
There are plenty of catch-up TV services, which allow the streaming or downloading of programmes after they have been shown on their respective channels.
If you only watch one of these you don't need to stump up – as long as you don't watch any BBC content.
If you're absolutely sure you no longer need one you can formally let TV Licensing know.
Although there's no legal obligation to do this, it will prevent an increasing number of letters coming your way.
The first thing to do as part of this process is cancel your payments.
If you pay by direct debit you can cancel it by filling out TV Licensing's contact form, informing it you no longer watch TV and confirm your current address.
You'll also need to cancel your direct debit with your bank.
If you pay with a TV Licensing payment card, you'll need to call 0300 555 0286.
Everyone who no longer requires a TV licence should then fill out a "No Licence Needed" declaration form.
Make sure you keep the confirmation email from TV Licensing as proof.
TV Licensing may visit your property to ensure you are telling the truth and no errors have been made.
The bureau says these inspections find one in five who have cancelled their TV licence actually still need one – that’s around 900 households a day.
A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “Fewer than 2 per cent of households don’t need a licence and there are more licences in force than ever before – 25.8million."
Do over-75s get a free TV licence?
Over-75s in the UK were previously eligible for a free TV licence, but need to pay for it from June 2020, the BBC has announced.
But households with at least one person receiving pension credit – around 900,000 currently – will not have to pay.
The Government has estimated that 1.3million people who are eligible for this benefit are not claiming it.
It's really easy to check if you're entitled – here's our step by step guide.
If you do receive pension credit, the BBC has said you may need to provide it a copy of your most recent benefit letter, so make sure you hang onto it.
You don't need to do anything yet though – the broadcaster said it will contact all its users that are affected by the change, letting them know what action to take.
If you are blind or severely sight-impaired you are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on your licence.
BBC chairman David Clementi said it had been a "very difficult decision".
He said: "We think its fair to those over 75 but also to all our audiences for whom there was no appetite for the level of cuts that would have been necessary if the concession had been extended.
"There are people for whom this will be unwelcome news, who have not paid until now but will do so."
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