Boat TV – Narrowboat Television License Requirements
Most boats have a television on board, but how many of them are licensed and do you really need a license to watch boat TV? Here’s a guide to legal television watching on your boat.
Personally, I don’t watch very much television. In fact, I don’t watch any television as far as the licensing authority is concerned. I use a mobile broadband dongle from 3 which allows me, most of the time, to get my televisual fix by streaming from BBC iPlayer or the other stations’ equivalent.
I do actually have a television. I’ve had an all singing, all dancing flat screen telly for over six months but there’s no ariel attached to it so it won’t actually pick up any programmes at all. It is capable of receiving live broadcasts though, as is my laptop, so – in theory – I either need to buy a license or let the licensing authority know that I don’t need a television license. I know I don’t need a license. They say on their web site that…
“You need a valid TV Licence if you use TV receiving equipment to watch or record television programmes as they’re being shown on TV. ‘TV receiving equipment’ means any equipment which is used to watch or record television programmes as they’re being shown on TV. This includes a TV, computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD/VHS recorder or any other device.”
As I mentioned earlier, if I want to watch a programme or two, I stream previously broadcast programmes from the internet. But I could watch live television and, in theory, expect a visit from the licensing authority for viewing live television from an unlicensed address. And there’s the problem. Most liveaboard narrowboaters don’t have a fixed address for them to check. They’re moored along the cut near a bridge or are continually cruising. I haven’t heard of a single narrowboat owner having to face the wrath of the BBC but that’s not to say it won’t happen and won’t happen to you if your boat is unlicensed.
You may not need a licence for your boat though if…
- You have a bricks and mortar home and you have a television license for that home and there is no one watching television simultaneously at both addresses. So, if your house is empty when you are cruising, you’re OK. However, if you rent your house out, or you have other family members living at the address, you will need an additional license for your boat.
- You genuinely don’t watch television. You need to let the authority know though. You can declare that you don’t need a television license on your narrowboat online.
- You are over seventy five
There you go. If you watch television on your boat you probably need a license. Enjoy your viewing but don’t forget, half of the pleasure of being on a narrowboat is to get away from “normal” life and lead an life closer to nature instead. Turn the telly off and go for a walk instead!