Why I Don’t Pay My TV Licence

In 2017-2018 the BBC made £3.8324 billion from charging people for a ‘TV licence’. Think about that for a second… The BBC is making more money from their ‘TV licence’ than some of the biggest companies in the world. There’s mainly one reason for this; most of the UK believe they need to have one. They think it’s a tax, and the BBC are doing everything in their power to convince you of this.


A ‘TV licence’ costs £150.50 per year and 94% of the UK pay for it. It was first introduced in 1946 to cover the costs of funding television broadcasting services. For over 70 years we’ve been paying it, long after the initial requirement for it passed. Most people think it’s a tax, a lot of other people think that if you own a TV or a PC you need a licence for it. I thought this too; I paid it for over 3 years whilst at university when all I had was my personal computer and Netflix.

The real fact, however, is this; contrary to what the name suggests, you don’t need a TV licence to own a television. You only need it to watch live television or the BBC iPlayer. You don’t need one to watch any of the other 599 channels in the UK via streaming or on-demand services. You can even watch Sky channels on Now TV as this is an on-demand service.

After years of needlessly paying £150 per year for a ‘TV licence’, one afternoon I realized that I barely ever watched live TV. My main television consumption was coming in the forms of services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. I much preferred to watch shows when and how I please rather than seeing what’s on the telly. In fact, the only time I was watching live TV was occasionally in the mornings before I went to work; I’d shove on Good Morning Britain for 10 minutes, it was the easy thing to do. But, was that 10 minutes in the morning worth £13 per month to me? Did I think it was worth almost 10x the amount that I pay for Netflix? Did I value it more than a Spotify premium account, which at £10 per month I’ve deemed as too expensive? No, I absolutely did not.

Amazon prime costs £7.99 per month, it’s half that price if you’re a student. That membership gives you unlimited 1-day delivery (or Amazon credit), a lot of shows on Amazon Prime – with some pretty awesome exclusive titles, the ability to borrow a book each month and access to over two million songs ad-free via Prime Music. Why on earth would anyone pay more than double that just to watch live TV? On top of that, you’ll be funding a company which uses scare tactics with warnings of £1000 fines if you don’t buy their service and sends aggressive enforcers to your house to see if you’re ‘illegally watching TV’. No, I didn’t need a ‘TV licence’ – and I’m going to convince you that you don’t need one too.

Other Services to Use

Netflix is probably the best service in the world right now for shows and films. Becoming big first in the USA, Netflix slowly but surely adopted a larger UK audience over the last decade. There are now over 9.5 million UK citizens who subscribe to the service. Netflix has over 700 original series and films which are only available on their service. This original content is some of the best which I’ve ever seen and contains the likes of Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards and The Crown. Netflix also doesn’t just show one type of genre; you can find cooking shows, travel shows, documentaries and a whole plethora of children’s TV shows. If you’re missing your favorite BBC TV shows; Netflix has you covered. Most things which were on the BBC end up on Netflix. They’ve got 7 seasons of The Great British Bake Off, all of the ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Life’ series and other great BBC shows like Doctor Foster and Black Mirror. All at a much more discounted price than the £13 per month ‘TV Licence’. Netflix is truly a master TV service, you could easily live with just this.

Most modern TVs now come with a Netflix button. It’s just like live TV, but better!

Amazon Prime as previously mentioned comes with a whole load of benefits in addition to a whole TV service. A lot of people would have Prime just for the next day delivery perk but may not have been using Prime TV. Although Amazon isn’t as refined as Netflix with their TV applications, they pack some excellent exclusive content. It is home to one of my favorite TV shows; Vikings, and also has a number of other great exclusives like Black Sails and The Man In The High Castle. All for under half the price of a TV licence, or a quarter of the price if you can grab a student deal!

Now TV is Sky’s on-demand service. It’s actually cheaper than a full Sky package and you can subscribe/unsubscribe whenever you like without entering into a contract. The TV pass is only £7.99 per month and gives you on-demand access to all of the popular Sky channels. You can even get a Sky Cinema pass for access to all of the film channels (although a little more expensive). I usually buy a month of Sky TV when shows like Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead are airing as they are the only series which I’d use those channels for.

Free on-demand services are also available for all popular TV channels. These include shows like Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Yes you heard that right…You don’t need to pay £13 per month to watch anything on channels 3, 4 and 5. You can use ITV Player, All 4 and My5. In-fact, it’s better to consume television on these services as you can choose when and where you’d like to watch them, instead of being a slave to the TV guide.

How to Consume These Services with Minimal Effort

A lot of people who watch live TV say that they do so as it’s easier than watching on-demand services. All of the devices below are things which you can buy to make consuming things like the above services with ease from your television set. These will provide a much better service than your ‘TV licence’ and will save you tons of money in the long term. A lot of them may not even be necessary as most modern TVs are now smart TVs which have all of the on-demand applications available with the click of your remote.

Google Chromecast is, in my opinion, the best and most versatile of all streaming devices. You simply plug it into the back of your TV via a HDMI port and go through a quick set up on your Apple or Android device and you’re done! You can then stream all of the aforementioned services from your phone via a ‘cast’ button which casts it straight to your TV. With this nifty device, you can even mirror your phone on your television, play any video on your PC via Google Cast or even cast your whole desktop. All for only £30!

Amazon Fire TV Stick (with Alexa Voice Remote) can be used as a smart TV remote. For only £39.99 you can get a buttery smooth smart TV experience with any television set. This also includes all streaming applications, not just Amazon Prime. It’s the perfect replacement to those addicted to live TV, all for a much lower cost!

Roku Streaming Stick is a little more expensive than the other options but provides more applications and a highly polished user interface. This newer streaming stick also comes with higher specifications supporting 4k streaming and boasts a stronger wireless receiver. Comes with an modern remote control which boasts a Netflix button!

Apple TV is the most premium of the streaming devices available on our line up. This device will give you ultra-fast streaming capabilities and provide you with advanced options such as Siri and iPhone integration. You’ll also be able to do things like play games and listen to music via your Apple TV. The price comes in at an eye-watering £179 which is why I would generally recommend one of the other devices, but, this is still miles better than paying almost the same price every year for the ‘TV Licence’!

You’ve Sold Me! What Do I Do?

So, you’ve decided that enough is enough and you’re going to stop paying ridiculous sums to the BBC for a shit service. What do you do now? First things first – you cancel your ‘TV Licence’ direct debit. If you inform the BBC that you’re leaving but don’t cancel the direct debit, the cheeky buggers will keep on charging you. They can’t possibly fathom that you won’t be watching live TV and they’ll assume you either accidentally canceled it, or are ‘breaking the law’..

Next thing you’ll want to do is go to the TV licencing website, fill in your details and enter into the question box the text below.

I no longer need my TV licence. I have decided to stop watching live TV and the BBC iPlayer, I am turning to alternative streaming providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. My address is:

[ENTER YOUR ADDRESS]

I have canceled my direct debit, please reimburse me any payments owed.

Next step is to pull out your TV Ariel, wrap it up and place it in a corner. You can now enjoy your free £150.50 and stress-free life with the ability to watch anything whenever you want.


I’ve now not held a ‘TV licence’ for almost 5 years and I’ve saved almost £1000. I have never actually been visited by one of the angry TV licensing people, but I have been sent threatening letters by them plenty of times. The BBC actually sub-contracts TV licensing enforcement to a company called Capita. These guys earn an expected £1.10bn to £1.55bn per year going around to poor old grannies houses and threatening them with £1000 fines and calling them criminals if they don’t buy a TV licence. They do this as they earn a commission for every person they get to re-sign up! Don’t let them scare you, they’re thugs, hungry for commission.

Join the enlightened 6% of the UK which haven’t got a TV licence today and pull the plug to a better – on-demand life. Comment below and let me know if you pay £13 per month for a TV licence and if you plan on continuing to do so. I’ll leave you with a list of the BBC salaries which you’re paying for ;]

  • Gary Lineker – £1.75m
  • Chris Evans – £1.66m
  • Graham Norton – £899,999
  • Steve Wright – £550,000
  • Nick Grimshaw – £400,000
  • Scott Mills – £280,000

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14 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Pay My TV Licence

  1. The TV licence is my only paid ‘subscription’. While I don’t watch half as much live tv as I used to, I do still watch things like football (when it’s on), Wimbledon tennis, rugby, Olympics, certain dramas (so I don’t read/hear about spoilers). I catch up on iPlayer, listen to the odd podcast and tune in daily to BBC radio stations (technically no licence required for radio but advert-free means paid for by licence money).

    In 2015, one of my goals was for my annual dividend income to reach £145 so that I could pay for my tv licence via passive income (theoretically, seeing as I’m reinvesting all dividends). My dividend income goal for 2018 is £3k so the tv licence is more than covered! I wouldn’t say that I’m ‘happy’ to pay it but think it’s a small price to pay. I’m not like you with an expenses budget of just £10k a year however!

    As for the high salaries, I don’t really care about what ‘entertainers’ earn, although the only thing I’d gripe about would be why are all the high earners men, where are the women? 😉

    1. Yeah there was controversy about that one 😛

      I’ve never really considered sports as I don’t watch any. I assumed you needed expensive Sky channels to watch the more prominent matches? I’m much happier with Netflix; although as I’m an engineer I kind of lust over how awesome their programming is. They’ve built the most advanced streaming service in the world. With shit connection whilst abroad recently, I couldn’t even load web pages on Chrome, but Netflix breezed past playing me HD episodes of the bake off 😉

      I really think that eventually, live TV will be no more. The BBC is going to have to re-invent themselves. I just hate the scaremongering techniques they use, I still get threatening letters now – they can’t possibly fathom that someone isn’t watching live TV. I credit this mostly to Capita though.

      1. For Premier League or Champions League matches I want to watch (I only want to watch the team I follow), I go to my gym, so I see that as part of my gym membership fee and don’t need to subscribe to Sky.

  2. I can totally see where you are coming from with this one and agree on the strong arm tactics are pretty despicable! And the ~1000 savings over 5 years are compelling!

    I’ve always been happy to pay for a tv license (when I’ve actually had a tv connected to an aerial. There were a couple of years as a student where I didn’t have one so ironically have done the exact opposite to you really haha).

    Maybe we didn’t used to use it to it’s full potential over the years but nowadays we do tend to watch a lot of BBC stuff though so happy to support those large salaries 🙂
    And it’s so much easier to stick something on for the child on “live” tv for 5 minutes rather than having to set something up to stream. Call it bad parenting if you will but sometimes you just need a distraction so you can get something done and TV is the easiest one by far.

    1. Hey TFS, thanks for stopping by 🙂

      We’ve probably had the sameish savings then from not paying! I’ll overtake you at some point though 🙂

      It sucks really that the BBC is forcing this charge even if you don’t want to watch BBC content. I do see the benefits of just shoving on live TV (even though I do think it’s a dying technology – bar sports), but I’d rather not pay the BBC when they don’t pay any of the other channels that I’m watching. The license was actually abolished in Australia as so many refused to pay. I think eventually it will be the same over here and they’ll have to adapt and either add adverts or charge people for a service like Netflix.

  3. Wow, £3.8324 billion to the BBC.

    What I want to know is if I stop paying my TV licence will it help defeat the Daleks? Those guys are scary! (though admittedly less so once a former colleague pointed out that they couldn’t navigate stairs successfully)

  4. Just to say it sounds like you’re probably breaking the law, and advising others to as well. This used to be the case but isn’t anymore, if you watch any BBC programme on Iplayer/online, whether it’s live or not, you are supposed to pay your license. Changed in the last year or two.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-37226030

    I pay my license because I’m very happy to have ad-free TV and film options on iplayer, and excellent ad-free radio, and like watching a show or two a year on iplayer.

    1. Hi Lette,

      This post insinuates that you don’t have to watch live TV or the BBC iPlayer. Owning a TV and watching any other on-demand channel (which isn’t iPlayer) is perfectly legal without a TV licence. You can also watch BBC programs that have sold their airing rights to Netflix without a licence.

      Netflix has over 6500 ad-free films and over 1600 ad-free TV shows and they update their content every year. That’s a lot more than the BBC and Netflix is much cheaper! Also, you can listen to BBC radio stations without a television licence.

  5. So I am thinking of cancelling my TV licence but there is one thing holding me back –

    My 6 year old has figured the tv remote and knows the number for the cbeebies and cbbc channels. As much as I tell him, I know he will still put it on, at least until I show him some other options. The question really is, how do they know you are watching? Do they come and peer through your windows? Or can they track it through your aerial or internet?

    I am having visions of a letter coming in saying that ‘on the 24th August 2018 you watched 8 mintues and 14 secoinds of ben10 on cbeebies’ We are now taking you to court. !!!!!!1!

    1. Haha, there is no way they can detect if you’re watching TV other than the window peering! They do say that you need to unplug your aerial, so they could charge you if you still had it plugged in and you let one of the bruisers through the door.

      I of courrseee don’t condone still watching live TV when you don’t pay for a licence, even though they’re unfairly holding all of the other channels hostage and paying them nothing. But, then again – most people I know torrent or stream TV shows/films – I’m pretty sure that’s slightly more illegal than watching CBBC without a licence.

      I’d get one of the above options that have a remote control, or some kind of cheap tablet that lets him control the Chromecast. There’s actually a massive kids section on Netflix, he can have his own ‘kids’ profile with access to 1000s of shows. You could try it out for a few months and see how you go, you can always get a licence again afterward if you miss it.

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