Does your computer need a TV licence?

Probably, if you use a TV tuner (like this one).

According to the Broadcasting Act 2009, a television is:

“any electronic apparatus capable of receiving and exhibiting television broadcasting services broadcast for general reception (whether or not its use for that purpose is dependent on the use of anything else in conjunction with it) and any software or assembly comprising such apparatus and other apparatus”.

So the door was left open for the licensing of devices which are not televisions in the traditional sense. Section 142 of the Act contains the requirement for TV licences but provides that the Minister for Communications can exempt certain devices from the obligation to have a TV licence.

The Minister did so over the summer months by way of  the Television Licence (Exemption of Classes of Television Set) Order 2009. The Order exempts:

  1. portable devices with a display size of not more than 160 cm² capable of exhibiting television services (this covers mobile phones, PDAs, etc.); and
  2. other devices which can access television or television-like services but only where they are available publicly on the internet (and not, for example, by means of analogue or digital broadcast, IPTV, etc).

So, it appears that a PC/laptop with a display in excess of 160² and with a television tuner card requires a TV licence. The maximum penalty for not having a TV licence if one is required is €1,000 [corrected] for the first offence.

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