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BBC Wi-Fi TV Trial Users Could be Breaking the Law

Posted: 08th Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
The TV Licensing Authority has warned that Smartphone (mobile phone) users of the BBC's new TV-over-Wi-Fi (broadband television) service trial could be inadvertently breaking the law if they use the service in a location not covered by a TV licence.

The service works by streaming live BBC TV channels to certain mobile phones at a low video resolution of 176 x 144 and includes radio stations too. However the bandwidth demands mean that, at present, it can only work when your phone is hooked up to a wireless (Wi-Fi) network.

Out-Law reports that normal TV licensing conditions still apply. However a license quirk means that anyone who plugs their handset into the mains electricity at a site which is not covered by a licence could still be in trouble, even if you have one for your home!:

"You would have to have a TV licence already if you use your mobile phone to watch live TV," said a TV Licensing Authority spokesman. "That home licence covers you unless you plug into the mains."

Users are allowed, though, to plug their devices into the mains without breaking the law on a train, plane, boat or in a car. "If you plug into the mains at any address other than your home, that address would need to be covered. But licensing regulations cover you for when you are travelling," he said.

So using the service while in your home or on the move is fine but anywhere else and you can expect the TV Licensing Authority death squads to break down your door and throw tear gas into the lounge. Well ok, that last part isn't true but it would be more interesting to see.

The penalty for watching TV without a license is a fine of up to £1,000 and the risk of Graham Norton coming to your house for “a visit”. Dear god no. Yes ok, we lied about that last part too.. or did we? Du du huuuu.
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