5 reasons why you can cancel your TV licence tomorrow
The BBC may be as British as shepherd's pie, queuing and Dick Van Dyke, but that doesn't mean you're happy parting with £142.50 for a television licence. The concept of paying for a paper television licence is not only antiquated, but increasingly unnecessary in this uber-shiny digital age.
What would you miss out on if you didn't one one? Aside from live events on television, very little. Whether you're an impoverished student, an infuriated pensioner, Noel Edmonds or just tight with the notes, here are five reasons why you can manage without a TV licence, or even a TV:
Radio is as free as a bird
Strictly speaking BBC radio isn't free - all BBC output is funded by the television licence - but the proliferation of radio tuners - both analogue and digital - plus its availability online and in mobile handsets means you won't be taken to court for listening to the Archers in the shower.
There's an abundance of news content available from other sources
Fifteen years ago, if there was a disaster occurring in the world, you'd usually hear about it first on the radio, and you'd keep listening up until the point you could find a television. Now, breaking news is available online before anywhere elsewhere - not only on established websites such as BBC and CNN, but also on Twitter from the likes of tourist Janis Krums, which is changing the game again. Online streaming mean news and weather reports are available on-demand, so there's not much reason to turn on the News At Ten.
You don't need a licence to watch the BBC iPlayer or other non-live services
A quirk of tv licence's outdated legislation is that it only covers live broadcasts. That means for on-demand services such as the BBC iPlayer that show content after it's appeared on live television, you don't need a licence - a point made by the BBC in both their guidelines for watching programmes on a mobile device and on the BBC blog of Ashley Highfield, former Director of BBC Future Media & Technology.
The BBC iPlayer has access to hundreds of hours of television are available to watch online, for free. Some shows aren't available because of rights issues, but these are the exception rather than the rule. Programmes from across all the BBC's analogue and digital stations are available for up to seven days on the iPlayer.
The rules mean not only are BBC programmes free to watch online after broadcast, but so are shows from other broadcasters; there's the ITV Player, Channel 4's 4 On Demand and 5's Demand 5. All three services offer programmes from across their schedules for free, for 28 days. You need to register with 5 before you can use their service, where you also have to option to rent and buy programmes.
Sky offers two services - a live TV service and TV on Demand. Although you don't need to be a Sky subscriber for the live TV option, there is no mention of requiring a television licence - in fact the blurb actively encourages you to watch the service "at work... or even a wi-fi hotspot". Strictly speaking however, watching a live television service requires a TV licence. Regardless, you're not missing out on much - neither one will let you watch Bauer kick terrorists in the face on Sky One. Meh.
What you can't find On-Demand, you'll find somewhere else
The DVD recently celebrated its tenth birthday in the UK, and now accounts for nearly 90 per cent of all film and television sales. Demand has driven pricing into the floor, meaning you can pick up plenty of titles and box sets for a few quid. Again, no need for a television since most computers have a DVD player, although you'll obviously have to sit out if you own a MacBook Air.
There's also the likes of iTunes for picking up brand new television shows and film releases; there are occasional sales on classic and older titles, so it's worth a snoop now and again.
There are alternatives to a widescreen television
So you've got all this digital content to watch - what do you watch it on? No TV doesn't mean you have to go without the big picture. 32" and 42" widescreen monitor are readily available, and while they still cost several hundred pounds, they're not so absurdly priced that they can't be considered as a replacement for a television.