If you're in the UK and you like and/or need to do a spot of money saving, a great way is to stop buying a TV licence. In this blog post I'll tell you how you go about doing this whilst staying legal. As you'll find out, not only will you be able to keep any televisions you have, you'll be able to continue using them too!
So now you can put the £145.50 you've saved to better use!
I have a TV and I want to watch TV on it, how can I legally do so without a TV licence?
The TV Licence isn't a licence for owning or using a TV. It's for viewing (or recording) received TV broadcasts.
You can watch catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 on any device you have - including your TV - all without a TV Licence. Most of Britain's favourite shows appear on such services within an hour of airing on broadcast TV.
As long as you stay away from any option to watch/stream a TV channel live, you're completely legal. In other words, it's forbidden for you to tune into any TV channel at any time, but everything else you do is a-ok!
In theory you could even subscribe to the likes of Sky Go or Now TV and just watch the on demand content, not the streaming channels.
It is for TV Licensing to prove you are watching TV broadcasts unlicensed. If you are not, they can't prove that you are. It really is that simple. Sure, they'll send threatening letters if you live at an unlicensed address, but completely TV-less people get those too. They're just designed to scare people into getting a licence (even those who aren't legally required to have one).
But they'll raid my house, fine me £1,000 and I'll have a criminal record, right?
Fret not. You're not breaking the law. Like I said, a TV licence is only required if you watch (or record) TV as it's being broadcast. Watching on demand content, no matter where it's from, is completely okay. Despite what TV Licensing may say, or imply, you aren't legally required to prove your innocence. So simply ignore all their correspondence whether it be by letter, phone or if they come to your door. You won't get fined, you won't get a criminal record.
I like watching live TV but wish to stop paying for a TV Licence, can I?
Legally, no - you cannot. And, legally, I can't encourage anyone to break the law no matter how nonsensical the law may be. So, say you're Pole residing in the UK, and you only ever watch Polish TV by satellite or via IPTV, and you never tune into the BBC, it's my sad duty to inform you that, legally, you still have to cough up even if there's almost no chance of getting caught "evading" or of receiving a £1,000 fine.
All I can say on the matter is that you aren't legally obliged to answer any questions from 'officials' from TV Licensing who are on your doorstep. Nor do you have to let them in to your home, not unless they have a search warrant.
So, what do you recommend I watch catch-up TV and other on-demand services on?
Many newer TVs have 'smart' features that already include the main catch-up and VOD services. If yours doesn't, there's games consoles Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (Xbox requires a subscription to go online). You can also use your laptop or Android tablet if they have an HDMI out socket. I wouldn't recommend Google TV at this moment in time, but I would thoroughly recommend a Raspberry Pi (although you'll have to be a bit of a tinkerer to get it working, or pester a tech friend).
UK catch-up TV is great and everything, but what about my US shows?
Don't worry, you can use the likes of Netflix, LOVEFiLM or BlinkBox for box-sets-aplenty. Better yet, you can use the US and Canadian equivalents of iPlayer or 4OD (such as Hulu and CTV.ca) as long as you use a service such as Smart DNS or Unblock Us to get around those pesky IP geolocation blocks. Google is your friend.
Now go and enjoy that £145.50!