Tom Loosemore has an interesting post in which he asks if just owning a PC could mean that you need a TV Licence in the UK. He points to comments made by the BBC’s Director of BBC Future Media and Technology, Ashley Highfield, who states that whilst using the BBC’s iPlayer on demand Internet TV service would not need a licence, watching any live stream on BBC News 24, for example would.
As Tom points out this is an interesting question, the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (as amended ) section 11 reads:
(1) In Part 1 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1967, “television set” means any apparatus which (either alone or in association with other apparatus) is capable of receiving (whether by means of wireless telegraphy or otherwise) any television programme service but is not computer apparatus or a mobile telephone.
(2) In this regulation, “computer apparatus” means apparatus which –
(a) is designed or adapted to be used (either alone or in association with other apparatus) for storing or processing data, but not for doing so in connection with the reception by means of wireless telegraphy of television programme services; and
(b) is not offered for sale or letting as apparatus for use (either alone or in association with other apparatus) primarily for or in connection with the reception (whether by means of wireless telegraphy or otherwise) of such services;
Are modern day PC’s designed or adapted “in connection with the reception by means of wireless telegraphy of television programme services” ? Well , my current desk top machine came with an external digital TV card and many now come with internal TV cards, so I’d say the answer must be yes. BUT, if you don’t have a TV card and you’re just watching over your broadband connection? I think the wording of the regulation gives a bit more room to fudge the issue on this side of things, but at the end of the day I think there is an argument – that will only get louder over the next 18 months – that anyone with a computer/mobile phone capable of receiving the BBC live will leave its owner open to the charge of needing a TV licence to legally do so – if they don’t already have one/are covered by another one.