In the UK the TV licence is regarded as a form of tax. Not having one is therefore tax avoidance and a serious offence.
The UK TV licensing authority owns a vast database of properties. It presumes that every household watches TV and therefore needs a TV licence. If your property doesn't have a licence, or only has a licence for a black-and-white TV, then you can be sure that they will be aware of you. Sooner or later you will get a letter and you will need to respond. If you don't respond, then they'll send you other letters, and if you continue not to respond someone will eventually make an unannounced visit. I have heard of occasions when they have visited without writing first though that is not supposed to happen. I think about half of those caught get prosecuted.
You are legally required to have a licence if you watch or record TV programmes as they are being broadcast, and it doesn't matter what device you use, whether it's a TV, PC, laptop or a mobile phone.
if you don't watch TV programmes (I have a TV to watch DVDs on but no aerial, cable, internet or satellite input) then you can tell them that, and stop paying your licence, but they may visit to make sure. It seems a bit hit and miss how they respond. I don't watch any TV. They accepted my word for it, and now they just do standard written checks every couple years. Other friends told them and have been hassled by them regularly. The authority has been reluctant to believe that they don't watch live TV (even though they definitely don't.)
The licensing authority claims to have remote detector equipment, some of it mounted in vans, others hand held, but they give very little information on this, so it is all a bit of a mystery. This has spawned a huge folklore around TV detection. Some people claim the detector vans are just a myth (I've never seen one or heard of anyone being caught by one, for example.) Others claim that they do have vans but just have a handful of them for the whole country. Who knows? The BBC who own the licensing authority are not telling.
Until recently, if you bought a TV, the licensing authority was immediately notified, but that no longer happens.
They don't collect the licence fee, but there are various other payment methods. Just Google UK TV licence.
You only need one licence, no matter how many TVs you have in your household.
And there is no radio licence required.
Hope that helps.
“Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley
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