By: Chandan Borgohain
August 7 2023
Under U.K. law, it is mandatory to pay a fee to hold a TV Licence to watch or record programs that are shown on TV or live on an online TV service.
What's the claim?
A post claiming that people in the U.K. are not liable to pay for a TV Licence unless they consent to an "act" governing TV Licensing is circulating on Facebook. The post, shared on July 23 by an account, has gained 49 shares at the time of writing this report. It shows a photo of an envelope addressed to TV Licensing with handwritten text that reads, "R.T.S No man/woman or person at property with this name" and adds, "TV Licence is a fraud on the people, there is no law that requires a person to pay this, only an 'Act' which requires consent. I do not consent- So f*** off!!"
Sharing the photo, the user wrote, "Stop paying TV license. It's a fraud." The image was uploaded on Facebook with the same caption in 2019. The post garnered 11K shares to date and is still being shared on Facebook. See the archived version here.
However, this is a false claim.
What's the truth?
In the U.K., a TV Licence is a legal document required to use a television or other electronic devices such as laptops or mobile phones to watch or record any live television program. According to the TV Licensing website, a TV Licence "is a legal permission to install or use television receiving equipment to watch live on any channel, TV service or streaming service, and to use BBC iPlayer."
It states that under the Communications Act 2003 and the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004, it is mandatory to pay a fee to hold a TV Licence to watch or record programs that are shown on TV or live on an online TV service. Violation of this is considered an offense "under section 363 of the Communications Act 2003" and could result in a penalty of £1,000. The cost of the Licence is £159 per year.
However, those who choose not to watch live TV on any channel or service or don't use BBC iPlayer can choose not to have a TV Licence. Thus, one does not need a TV Licence to watch streaming services like Netflix, on-demand TV through services like Amazon Prime Video, videos on websites like YouTube, or DVDs.
Contrary to the claim, an Act in the U.K. is not subject to individuals' "consent." According to the website of the U.K Parliament, "an Act is a Bill that has been approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and been given Royal Assent by the Monarch." It states that laws in the country are created or changed by an Act of Parliament, and the Government can bring new laws into force once Parliament passes them.
What has TV Licensing said?
A TV Licensing spokesperson told Logically Facts, "As is the case with all other laws that create statutory obligations on individuals, the Act is enforceable without consent…In this case, if they view, record, or download licensable content, they need to ensure that they are licenced."
"As explained above, the conditions that require a household to hold a TV Licence are established in law, and it is our statutory obligation to ensure that this is upheld," the spokesperson added.
Viewing or recording TV programs without paying for a TV Licence is illegal in the U.K. under the Communications Act 2003 and the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004. Further, laws in the U.K are enforced by the Government and are not subject to the "consent" of individuals. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.