How to Avoid BBC Licence Fee



I have always resented paying the BBC licence fee because I watch very few BBC programmes. Luckily, new technology means that I can legally watch all the TV I want without paying out £145.50 per year. This page lists my experience of avoiding the fee to help guide others who wish to save.

Legal Bit

I am not a lawyer so you should only stop paying your licence fee after you have satisfied yourself as to your legal position.

Martin Lewis has a good explanation of the subject here. My take on this is that as long as you don’t watch or record live TV or watch the BBC iPlayer then you are OK. Luckily, broadcasters now put most of their programmes on the web where you can legally watch them on catchup.

The UK government closed the BBC iPlayer loophole on 1st September 2016, but this did not affect other catchup services. It is strange that Westminster decided to cut off free access to its propaganda wing. How will we survive without ‘The Great British Thingy’?

What to Watch

Most of the terrestrial channels like ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, etc are available on demand for free. There are also a lot of other free channels like YouTube, Vimeo, etc which have thousands of videos.

I switch between Netflix, Amazon and Sky (Now TV) for my monthly subscription packages. Netflix and Amazon subscriptions contain a mixture of movies and TV box sets while Now TV offers separate movie and TV packages. Be careful with Now TV that you don’t watch any of their live programmes.

You can also watch single movies from various providers. I use Google Play Movies which costs around £3.50 for the latest releases.

Trial Period

I tried out catchup TV for a few months before my last licence expired to make sure it was feasible. I bought a Now TV box which included a 3 month Sky entertainment pass. It also allowed me to watch ITV, C4, C5, YouTube, etc and try it out in various rooms at home to check reception.

This trial period will allow you to check that your broadband is fast enough and whether you can survive without live TV.

Suggested Hardware

The Now TV box is an excellent bargain but it will not show Netflix or Amazon shows (it is a loss-leader for Sky).

The simplest unit I have is a Roku Streaming Stick which shows all of the channels I watch.

I also have a Pipo X7 TV computer which runs Windows 10 and shows all my channels. It also runs Kodi which opens up a worldwide selection of TV and movie channels. You need to add a wireless keyboard with touchpad to control it but it is a very powerful PC in its own right. It is fanless so is totally silent and only consumes a few watts of electricity.

Benefits of Catchup

Cutting out live TV was a bit of a wrench but the benefits include:

  • You only watch what you want to watch rather than whatever happens to be on.
  • No more flicking during adverts.
  • Save £145.50 per year.
  • Internet TV HD picture quality is better that aerial.
  • No need for recording hardware – electricity saving.
  • Devices remember where you stopped watching a show.

BBC Enforcement

Once you stop paying your BBC licence they will start sending you computer generated letters which become increasingly strident and threatening. Examples are here.

I ignore these as I reckon I am keeping the local postie in work and I am not breaking the law. You do have the option of informing the BBC that you do not require a licence but they say they will still send out one of their snoopers to inspect your property. This is equivalent to my local supermarket searching my home on the off chance that I am a shoplifter. No way, Jose!

 Posted by at 2:04 pm