FIGURES released recently from TV Licensing revealed that more than 220 people were caught watching TV without a licence within the Banbridge area, and more than 50 in Dromore last year.
There were more than 20,000 people caught watching TV illegally across Northern Ireland. The average evasion rate remains at a low of just over five per cent, meaning that almost 95 per cent of properties are correctly licensed.
Deborah King, a TV Licensing spokesperson, said, “It’s not fair on the vast majority of people in Banbridge who pay their licence fee for some people to watch TV without paying. We try to give people every chance to get on the right side of the law, but ultimately if they fail to pay, we will take action.
“We take TV Licence evasion very seriously, and any householder or business caught watching TV without a licence can face a prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
“We do understand that some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost, including monthly Direct Debit, which can be set up very quickly online, and a weekly or monthly cash payment plan.”
A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment. Currently, TV Licensing has over 30 million UK addresses on its database and can tell straightaway which addresses are unlicensed.
Detector vans and handheld detectors can be used by enquiry officers to check if an unlicensed property is watching TV illegally, but the TV Licensing database is the main enforcement tool.
People can start paying their licence fee within minutes by visiting www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info or by calling 0300 790 6112. Direct Debit is the most popular payment method, chosen by 69% of payers.