TV licensing: What’s the deal?

A guide for freshers, returning students and their parents.

Moving into accommodation at university isn’t easy. We all get that. You’ve left the confines of your home to live among complete strangers, and instantly, you’ve become an adult. You’re now responsible for everything, from buying and cooking your own food to managing your money and student loans.

But if you’ve got your own TV in your room, have you given the TV License much thought? It’s something you may have forgotten to look into and to find out more about, perhaps because you’ve just moved in and had to deal with so much. Well, we feel for you and are here to help.

British law stipulates that you need a TV License if you’re watching or recording television programmes as they’re being shown on the TV. If you were caught without a license, you could end up being prosecuted or handed a fine of up to £1,000 – which are two outcomes you’ll want to avoid completely.

Are you covered?

This is the question you should ask yourself if you do have your own TV, because, of course, you don’t want to end up getting in trouble. Generally speaking, if you’re living in halls, you’re not covered by a communal TV license. So don’t suppose you’re fine. Simply give TV Licensing (the go-to organisation for information about the license) to find out if you’re actually covered.

If you’re a student living in a shared house under a tenancy agreement, you’ll be happy to learn that only one TV Licence is required to cover all televisions and devices in the property. As well as this, if each student has a separate tenancy agreement and live television is only watched in a communal area, you’ll only need one license. The only time you’d need a single license is when you watch live television in your bedroom.

Don’t be fooled that the TV license only applies to traditional televisions, though, because that’s not the case. A license is also a must if you’re to stream live TV on a mobile phone, a tablet, a games console, a laptop, or a PC. However, if you’re room is already covered, you’ll be OK. Just remember to check.

Different ways of paying

As a student, you’re probably on a tight budget, which is why £145.50 in one go for a license can be daunting. However, TV Licensing does offer you the ability to pay for it in chunks. This can be be done via Direct Debit on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis. It totally depends on what you feel most comfortable with; the most important thing is that you’re abiding by the law.

What’s worth noting is that if you buy a TV license at the start of the academic year, you may be entitled to a three-month refund at the end of it – worth over £36. You only need to have three months left on your license and be leaving halls or other rented accommodation to move into a licensed address.

What do Swansea students think of the license?

Jordon Trott, a second-year English student who lives in a house in the Uplands, is an advocate of the concept of the license. He said: “I am very pleased with The BBC’s quality and coverage. I believe it is crucial that the BBC remains impartial and that it is not influenced by shareholders or ratings.

However, he does see some negatives here: “I do, however, believe the BBC should be more aggressive in obtaining sporting events. It’s an outrage that the Olympics will not be shown on BBC One following the 2020 Toyko Games.

“And, as a student, it’s a disgrace that you are expected to fork out £145 to watch live television, especially when it pertains to shows such as The Ten O’clock news.”

Ieuan Bater, a second-year business student, believes students should pay as a collective. He said: “I don’t think students should have to pay individually – they should either have to pay as a block (like my flat of 8 ) or a discounted rate of like £10 a year per person

“As for families, I believe they should pay but the amount should go firstly BBC/S4C then towards all channels to some extent. It might be easier to charge families the money monthly/quarterly as part of their Sky/Virgin Media etc payment. This would mean less families pay but could be easier enforced.”