Young people in Edinburgh are being urged to ensure they’re fully covered as new data is released by TV Licensing.

Over 650 people in Scotland between the ages of 18 and 25 have been interviewed by TV Licensing Visiting Officers for watching live TV or BBC iPlayer without a valid licence in the last year. The stats reveal that more than 20,000 were interviewed across the UK.

TV Licensing makes more than 7,500 visits across the UK a day, focusing on unlicensed addresses where occupants have ignored previous attempts to make contact. Not all visits lead to prosecution and the majority of first-time offenders are not prosecuted if they buy a licence before their court date. 

With 84 per cent of UK undergraduates aged 24 and under, TV Licensing is reminding them that they risk facing prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 if they are caught watching live TV, or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a valid TV licence; this includes any device, not just a TV set.

Despite the explosion in popularity of smartphones and tablets, a television is still the most used device for students watching live or recorded TV, with nearly two thirds of students taking a TV to university. However, for those watching BBC iPlayer, most are using a laptop, with 65% watching on their portable computer and 28% watching on their smartphone.

The law still applies to students living away from home in halls or shared accommodation and you need to be covered by a TV Licence to:

  • watch or record programmes (such as sports, news, music, dramas and documentaries) as they’re being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service (e.g. YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This applies to any device, such as a TV set (incl. smart TV), laptop, desktop computer, tablet, mobile phone, games console or digital box.

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, but if they have a joint tenancy agreement for an entire house or flat, one licence usually covers the whole property.

Fergus Reid, spokesperson for TV Licensing Scotland, said: “Students will now have settled into their new term and every year myths circulate around about when you do and don’t need a licence. 

“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, so we would encourage them to visit tvl.co.uk/uni to find out more.”

A standard TV licence costs £154.50 and there are many payment options available, from paying in one go to spreading the cost over the year. They can buy and manage their licence online and if they don’t need their licence for a full 12 months, they could apply for a refund.

Students can check if they need a licence at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/studentinfo  – or by calling 0300 790 6113.