Well, depending on where you live, you might not need one at all. If you are in the United States for instance, you are safe from this particular requirement, regardless of your projector ownership.
Most countries in Europe, and around half of those in Africa and Asia, however, do have this requirement. See this for more info, or google “do I need a TV license in [the name of your country]” to determine if you need one in your country.
So let’s say you live in a country where a TV license is required. Do you need one?
To understand this, you must first understand what a TV license is.
What is a TV license?
When television was just being made available to the public for the first time in the 1920’s, those who were creating and broadcasting content had to decide how to make money off those receiving their broadcasts.
A couple main strategies sprung up:
- Selling time on your network to interested parties to advertise with.
- Requiring those who would receive a television broadcast to pay a renewing subscription paying for the content (A TV License), much like modern streaming services.
Advertising had obvious disadvantages in that it was taking up some of your broadcast time and potentially annoying your audience, but the big upside was that your money was basically guaranteed, as by the time the consumer received your broadcast, you had already been paid.
The TV License was nice as a consumer because you didn’t need to sit through a bunch of time-wasting advertising, but a big problem quickly emerged – it was very difficult to ensure that people were paying.
This has caused many countries to abandon the TV license strategy, or to switch it from a license to a tax, but despite this, many countries still require them.
What’s confusing about this is that nowadays there are many more ways of watching TV than existed when the TV license was created. This leads us to our next point:
Do I need a TV License?
Even if you live in a country with TV licenses, you don’t necessarily need one.
The rules are different in different countries, but most of them are pretty similar to those of the United Kingdom.
The UK Government website states that you must have a TV license if you,
- watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast
The key part being this first clause “as they’re broadcast”. The TV license is meant to apply to traditional TV that is being broadcast for your consumption – not things that follow the “on demand” paradigm.
Additionally, in the UK, viewership of any BBC programme requires a TV license – which makes sense as this is a big part of their funding.
This means that a TV license is not required for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or any other streaming service.
Nor is one necessarily required for a projector.
Just remember, what’s important is the content you are playing – if it’s not broadcast TV (or BBC), you should be fine.
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.