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Do you need a TV Licence for August Portable TV's? Definitely Maybe

The world of TV Licencing is a somewhat confusing one, filled with vague descriptions, unclear classifications and worst of all - potentially large fines. Navigating this TV Licence landscape is vital if you want to avoid harassment from inspectors and ensure your viewing going uninterrupted the nation over.

If you have bought a fully portable TV with Freeview built in such as the popular August DA100 and DA900, then you might be wondering how a TV licence works for travel, especially if you take it abroad!

Since we stock the August small portable TV we have summarised the what, why and how of TV Licencing for portable Freeview units.

What Do You Need a TV Licence For?

The direct definition provided for what a TV Licence covers is simple, but also incredibly vague. The ultimate bottom line of the definition when CordBusters reached out to the BBC was the term "television programme service".

There are a couple of ways in which we define the real meaning of that vague phrase:

  1. Television. The first word might seem generic but does, at least, restrict the content which a TV licence covers strictly to TV. DVB-T and DVB-T2 broadcasts received and sent by cable, satellite and Aerial.
  2. Programme. The second word hints that the services a TV Licence covers are those with programme production. This implies an organising body of some kind deciding which shows are produced and when they are shown.

For example, if you send a video of your cat from your phone to your Smart TV, you obviously don't need a TV licence. The video was never a "Television Programme" and wasn't provided by a "Service" but by yourself.

Do You Need A TV Licence for Travelling in the UK?

We have identified the exact type of content a TV licence is needed for, and it's certain that the DA100 and DA900 TVs with Freeview built-in are part of that category. They receive DVB-T and DVB-T2 signals broadcast via Television towers, and are provided directly by the TV service.

However, there are a few key attributes the TV Licence checks for. When you purchase a TV Licence you assign an address. TV Licences are not attributed to you as a user, but to your address. So, if you leave the house which you bought the TV licence at to go on holiday and take a DA100 with you, you can see how this might lead to confusion!

The best thing to remember is that if you are registered to watch Live TV at home with your Licence then that same Licence covers you for Portable TV wherever you go! (with one exception...). You can take a portable TV across the country and use a portable Freeview aerial to watch any TV you can receive anywhere in the world, all using your home TV Licence!

However...

One of the key attributes the TV Licence checks is the location of the device. This isn't GPS or anything so advanced, but simply applies to where and when a TV device (Or device you watch any "Television Programme Service" on) is plugged in.

That's right, the deciding factor for being away from home and thus therefore no longer covered by your home address TV Licence is a physical connection between a house and your TV device.

An Example of Travelling with a UK TV Licence

I watch my DA100 in the kitchen at my address where my TV Licence is registered. I plug the TV into the roof aerial for extra signal and the mains socket to charge it.

Later on, I go to a friend's house and whip out the DA100 quickly to check up on the show. The DA100 is still, as far as the TV Licence is concerned, "connected" to my home address. I have simply turned it on, used a portable aerial that only connects to the TV, and started watching.

A couple of hours pass and the battery is getting low enough that I want to top-off the charge. I use the power adaptor to plug the DA100 into the mains socket at this friend's house, and while I'm there I plug their aerial in for better signal than my portable one.

Now, because there is a physical connection between a TV device and a house, the address needed for the TV Licence has changed. The friend's address is now the "connected" home and thus the one which technically needs the TV Licence registered!

Despite the fact the device is yours and you have a Licence, the address information has changed in the eyes of the TV Licence and so your Licence is invalid.

I hurry home and plug my DA100 back into my house, which re-applies my TV Licence as the one covering the TV.

How to Loophole Your TV Licence Address to Travel

It all sounds a bit ridiculous, but lines do have to be drawn somewhere. The trick is to remember that if you are ever at a registered address, you technically can't plug your TV devices in and still remain on your own TV Licence from home.

As far as the licence is concerned it doesn't seem to care about unregistered locations, or locations in which you don't plug a cable in. This means you're free to use your TV Licence all the way across the country so long as you only charge up on-the-go.

One sure-fire solution is using a hefty power bank. You can plug a rechargeable power pack in to the mains anywhere, then unplug it and connect the DA100. That way you charge your devices at an address without ever establishing a physical connection to the house from the TV!

Does the DA100 Multimedia Player Need a TV Licence?

We have shown how a DA100, as a device receiving and showing Live TV broadcasts, needs a TV Licence. Now let's explore why it doesn't!

The DA100 is capable of playing multimedia files from external storage, and those files may not be anything to do with a TV broadcast. In those cases, the DA100 is not required to be covered by a TV Licence in the same way an MP3 Player or DVD Player wouldn't be.

While the definitions and terms all line up, there is the small matter of proof. What I mean to say is it's a lot easier to prove you weren't using a DVD player to watch Live TV than it is to prove you weren't using a Portable Freeview TV to watch Live TV. Ultimately proof is very rarely a stage anyone is exposed to, however, as you can simply declare all your usage and the TV Licencing teams should stop contacting you.

Can You Take A DA100 Portable TV Abroad?

Rather nicely, all the rules that applied in the UK also apply abroad. What this means is that you can pack away you DA100 and a high-capacity power pack and watch TV anywhere in the world so long as you never plug the mains or antenna ports into a registered address. It's a funny way to engage with the world but it saves you the worry, and travelling abroad can be enough worry as it is!

Explore Travel Bundles

With the revelation that a power pack, portable aerial and other accessories are going to be vital for travelling without voiding your TV Licence we stock a couple of Bundles. These include a portable TV, a car charger adaptor for them (As cars are not registered addresses) and a carry bag (so you can take a power bank!). These all ensure you can travel in peace with all the TV your Licence covers safely going with you!

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