The UK TV licence is the BBC ‘s main source of funding – providing around £3.7 billion of its £5 billion annual income.
The UK TV licence is required by all UK households or properties you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel on any device.
If you’re watching on TV or on an online TV service; this is for all channels, not just the BBC
If you record a programme and watch it later;
If you watch a programme on a delay;
To watch or record repeats;
To watch or record programmes on +1, +2 and +24 channels;
To watch live programmes on Red Button services;
To watch satellite or online programmes shown live from outside the UK or Channel Islands
The UK TV licence is also needed if you use BBC iPlayer – even if only watching shows on catch up.
However, you do not need a UK TV licence if you’re watching shows on catch-up using other streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, ITVX, Disney Plus, YouTube, All 4 or My5. As long as you’re not watching live content through these services.
The future of the UK TV licence?
The BBCs charter (its right to broadcast and the rules it adhers to), is due for renewal in 2027 / 8.
And there has been much debate about the future of its funding.
Some argue that even if they do not watch BBC channels / Content, they are being forced to pay for a UK TV lisence anyway. You could argue that your taxes are being used to fund the NHS, even if you do not use it!
Some argue that the UK TV licence shoudl be scrapped and replaced. But with what?
Adverts : some like the fact that there are no adverts on BBC channels. Having adverts on the BBC channels will take away advert revenue from other broadcasters, causing channel closeures and loss of jobs doen the line.
Subscirption : make the BBC a subscirption service. But then if it makes it most popular programmes, like Strictly come dancing, and poopular dramas like Line of Duty, behind a paywall, many people may not afford to watch these popular dramas. In fact it could increase piracy, as peopleeturn to illegal means to watch their pay TV content.
A New tax : basically making the current payment part of a tax scheme. Even this way you will alll still end up paying it, even if you do not use it, but perhaps it can be better tailored so that “rich” postcodes pay more than “poor” postcodes.
Another new tax : In Spain, the private broadcasters are taxed on thier revenue, and that goes to pay for the RTVE public services.
And all this is to help it compete with other streaming and subsciprtion services.
Ahhh. Competition. Better for the viewers…now you need to take out all these subsciprtions : Sky, BT / TNT, Amazon Prime, Disney, Netflix, ITVX, Apple TV, Britbox, NOW, DAZN, Hayu, Paramount+, Lionsgate+, Microsoft, Youtube…and a few more that fail me at the moment.
But then some of these services are now introducing adverts before during and after content, whereas before they were ad free. This allows these services to have a lower “basic” subsciprtion fee, but at the cost of adverts.
In 2025, British consumers are forecast to spend £4.2bn on subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+ to get their fill of content ranging from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises to Lord of the Rings (LOTR) spin-offs, comedies such as Ted Lasso and reality TV including Selling Sunset.
This compares with the £4.1bn that is predicted to be spent on TV subscriptions, from providers including Sky, Virgin Media, BT TV and TalkTalk, a tipping point that means it has taken just 13 years for streaming to eclipse traditional pay-TV since the change in viewing habits began with the arrival of Netflix in the UK in 2012.
Watching TV is changing.
But when will the pay streaming bubble burst with so many companies out their…