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26,000 young viewers caught without a TV Licence

New figures reveal how younger viewers have been caught out by TV Licensing, following changes to the rules governing iPlayer access.

TV Licensing report that more than 26,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 were caught watching live TV or BBC iPlayer without a TV Licence in the past year.

With 84% of undergraduates aged 24 and under TV Licensing is reminding students they could face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 if they are caught watching live TV, or BBC programmes on iPlayer, on any device, without a TV Licence. The rules governing who needs a TV Licence changed two years ago, when iPlayer access was included.

Research by TV Licensing shows that the number of students taking a TV to university has risen from 23% to 27% since last year. Despite the increase in popularity of smartphones and tablets, a television is still the most used device for students watching live or recorded TV. However, for those watching BBC iPlayer, most are using a laptop, with 65% watching on their portable computer and 28% watching on their smartphone.

Awareness of knowing when a licence needed is high, with 92% of students clear that a TV Licence is needed to watch BBC iPlayer on a TV set. If students live in halls of residence and watch live TV or BBC iPlayer programmes in their room, they will need to be covered by a TV Licence. Students in shared houses will also require their own licence if they use a TV or device in their room and have a separate tenancy agreement.

Almost half of students think that TV Licensing is actively looking for students who are evading, with almost half – 46% - believing TV Licensing is actively searching for evaders in their area who don’t have a licence, who are watching BBC iPlayer. The study also revealed more than 53% of students think it would be would be embarrassing to get caught without a licence.

Jason Hill, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:
Every year there are myths which circulate around campus about when you do and don’t need a licence. As most students own at least one device capable of showing live TV or watching BBC iPlayer - such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet computer – it’s important they know the law around being correctly licensed. If you’re watching live TV on any device, including mobiles and tablets, or watch catch up programmes on BBC iPlayer, you need to be covered by a TV Licence.

A TV Licence currently costs £150.50 a year.

  • TV Licensing is asking students who are worried about paying for a TV Licence, to get in touch, as there are many payment options available, from paying in one go to spreading the cost over the year. Students can easily check if they need a licence on the TVL website – – or by calling 0300 790 6113.