Sunday, 21 October 2012

Advice on TV Licensing leads students down an expensive path

New students at University may find themselves in hot water over TV Licensing laws and I have found what this means for students in Luton.

Research commissioned by TV Licensing has found that students may be unaware of the laws they may be breaking with the streaming of live television on laptops and mobile devices. With almost half a million students heading off to University in the UK for the first time this year it is believed that 28% of these will wrongly believe that they do not need a license to stream live television on their laptop, whilst some 38% believe that they do not need a license to stream live shows on their mobile devices.

Victoria Sykes, TV Licensing spokesperson for London and the South East said: “Our new research shows how important it is for students to understand the law when it comes to watching live TV. We’re working with universities around the UK, including the University of Bedfordshire to ensure students who want to watch live TV can do so legally and with the peace of mind they are on the right side of the law. A TV Licence, at £145.50, can be bought online in minutes,” she added: “In addition, students who buy a TV Licence at the start of the academic year could benefit from a refund if moving home for three full months over the summer” she added.

Nik Taylor, editor of student community website The Student Room, said: “TV Licensing and The Student Room are keen to help students watch the TV they want, legally and anyone with questions about their TV Licence can get a clear, simple answer on the TV Licensing website. Students put off by the cost of paying in full can always opt to pay in instalments.”

However the statements made above do not explain the full story. 

A spokesperson from TVCatchup explained: "I dealt with this issue personally last year after I was contacted by some worried students after they received some scare tactics sent to them in a letter from TV Licensing. 

What I did was to approach TV Licensing with the scenario of a student using a device without batteries in student halls, with their parents having a TV License at their main permanent residency i.e. the family home. They confirmed that this student would not require a license under those conditions" he added "I personally agree with the concept of a TV License, but what I do not agree with is giving misinformation in order to scare students into to purchasing a TV License when, if they meet certain conditions, they do not need to purchase one."  .

In essence this means that provided your parents have a valid TV license and your device is not plugged into the mains, then you can stream as much live TV as you like. The statements made by the TV Licensing agency also fail to mention the fact that you do not require a license to watch programs that have already aired though on demand services such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer or 4oD. 

All this information can be found and accessed easily via the TV Licensing website:

To recap the three golden rules:

  1. Your out-of-term address is covered by a TV Licence
  2. AND you only use TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries
  3. AND you have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains.

Happy channel hopping.

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