Feeds

Detector vans can't tell you're watching TV streamed to your PC

Licensing authority admits the obvious

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The Television Licensing Authority seems to be admitting defeat in the quest to winkle out viewers illegally watching TV programs on their computers in the UK, writes Chris Ward-Johnson.

The TVLA has issued a statement to the Reg saying: "A licence is required to install and use any equipment capable of receiving TV signals - including PC-TVs. If an address already has a licence this would cover the watching of television programme services via a PC on the premises.

"Our ability to use both detector vans and hand-held equipments forms part of our enforcement activity. We have a comprehensive database detailing the licence status of 26 million addresses nationwide. This database includes information from dealers who are legally required to inform TV Licensing of sales and rentals of equipment capable of receiving TV signals, including PCs with TV cards. We are able to cross reference the information supplied by dealers with that on our database. Where we suspect some (sic) is watching TV without a licence an enquiry officer can visit the property. Anyone caught without a licence faces a visit to a magistrates court and a £1000 fine."

Of course, this wasn't the question - that was, "How do you propose to detect people watching TV programs via streaming media on PCs which AREN'T equipped with tuner cards?" to which we added the supplementary line, "Or should (we) take your response to mean that you're avoiding the question because it can't be done?"

The Authority's response to the re-posing of this question was, simply, "Currently, our detection equipment is not designed to pick up signals given off by PC monitors and laptop screens. However, as the statement says, detection equipment is only one tool available to us. An address that already has a TV Licence would not require an additional licence if, in addition, a PC was being used in the house to watch TV."

Of course, their problem then is proving that you're actually watching something from, for example, the BBC website on your PC. At the moment their system works by cross-referencing addresses with the database of those who've bought a licence and/or a TV (or video or, in the case of one reader, a DVD player which Tesco insist is the same as a VCR for licensing purposes) then sending round the lads in anoraks with the fake aerials on their van roof to see if you're watching Coronation Street on your unlicensed receiver.

They simply can't do this because - unless they have some technology unknown to our readers (and what are the odds on that?) - their detection equipment won't pick up what's on your PC screen. Or are those guys out in the front garden using some special kind of x-ray specs to see through your curtains? ®

Related Stories

Only UK viewers have to pay for the BBC on the PC
TV licence needed to watch the BBC on your PC
A licence to print money?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Twitter: La la la, we have not heard of any NUDE JLaw, Upton SELFIES
If there are any on our site it is not our fault as we are not a PUBLISHER
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?