Required by any household that watches live television programming, the TV licence is traditionally used as a means to fund services provided by the BBC.
Currently priced at £145.50 for those with a colour TV set – or, if you have a television that still broadcasts in black and white, this is reduced to £49.00 – in 2013 it brought in revenues of around £3 billion.
The cost of a TV licence fee is currently fixed until March 2017, with its long term future still very up in the air – with many in the right-wing media arguing that it should be abolished in favour of purely free market broadcasting.
As television has become less heavily regulated – and with the proliferation of channels in the era of Freeview – the licence fee has remained a hotly debated topic. However, not having a TV licence when required is still considered a criminal offence, with a fine of up to £1,000 for those who refuse to pay.
One of the great myths around the TV licence is that it all goes towards the British Broadcasting Corporation – in fact, ITV, Channel Four and various other channels that provide public service broadcasting all cut a cut of the income.
It has recently been confirmed that you do not need to pay the licence fee if you only watch programmes through online portals, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4OD. It is also legal to have a television and only use it for means other than watching live broadcasts, such as running a games console through it or using the set solely as a means of watching DVD or VHS.