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UK businesses are being warned that they need a TV licence if staff watch live TV broadcasts whether they do so on a TV or via their computers.

TV Licensing is reminding firms that they need a licence if machines are plugged in - someone watching live broadcasts via a mobile or laptop is covered by their own home licence as long as they don't plug the machine into a power socket. Once it's plugged in it is considered "installed", and therefore becomes the responsibility of the company.

Staff are free to watch catch-up services like the BBC's iPlayer or Channel 4's 4OD without paying the annual tax.

Rumours that telly licensing's famous detector vans contain nothing more than a man, his sandwiches and a Thermos are strongly disputed on its website.

This claims the vans contain extra-specially strong secret technology. The site claims: "Some aspects of the equipment have been developed in such secrecy that engineers working on specific detection methods work in isolation - so not even they know how the other detection methods work." So now you know... and we thought they just matched a UK household database with their payment database.

Anyone selling a TV is also required by law to inform the authority of the address of anyone buying or renting a telly.

A spokesman for TV Licensing said it was unable to give figures on businesses caught without licences because it does not keep separate records.

TV Licensing caught 214,000 people without licences in the first six months of 2009 - 5,000 more than in the same period of 2008.

Of course the other way to deal with this thorny issue is to refuse access to anyone claiming to be from TV Licensing. But if we all did that then there'd be no money for CBeebies. ®

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