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Watching Olympics at work? How to avoid a £1k telly-tax fine

Hint: You'll need a laptop

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Watching the Olympics at work may annoy the boss, but not as much as the £1,000 fine the company could get if doesn't have a TV licence.

Watching live telly in the UK requires such a licence regardless of whether that video arrives over the internet or is broadcast. The TV tax collectors have provided a useful cut-out-and-pin-on-the-wall guide for all those pointy-haired bosses who'd prefer to avoid shelling out after the fact.

There is an exemption for battery-powered devices at work if they are owned and used by someone who holds a TV licence at their home address, so keep your laptop unplugged and you're in the clear - legally at least, we can't comment on how your boss will react.

The pin-up [PDF, you know you want to ogle it] provides tick boxes from which employees can be informed of their legal and procedural rights to watch the games at work. We're particularly taken by the ability to tick boxes saying that the company has a TV licence, but that employees are banned from watching TV anyway - sport-nixing BOFHs would no doubt approve.

Keeping a laptop going for an extended period could be a challenge, and we suggest avoiding doing any real work that might unnecessarily drain the battery. The rules state that a device must be entirely battery powered, so inductive charging is out, but one can use as many additional batteries as necessary.

Alternatively one could just watch the games on non-live iPlayer or another suitable catch-up service. Current licensing legislation doesn't cover such services - just real-time feeds - but then who wants to watch the BMX finals or the Greco-Roman Wrestling (or whatever it is these days) long after everyone else knows how it all ends? ®

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