BBC trial live mobile TV; when do you need a TV license?

Creative Commons License photo: videocrab

The Telegraph reports today that the BBC has just launched a trial of live mobile TV via WiFi.

The BBC shows are being simulcast on phones at the same time as they are broadcast on traditional scheduled television.

The service, dubbed Live TV, is still in the second stage of testing, but is available to some users already. It will enable viewers to watch channels such as BBC One, BBC Four, CBeebies and BBC News over a Wi-Fi connection using a compatible mobile phone. Radio shows can also be streamed live to handsets, the BBC confirmed.

To watch live TV on your mobile, visit in your phone’s browser. Live radio can be found at

The BBC have reminded people they need a full colour TV license to watch TV on their mobile. But I think we need a lot more clarity in what the law says about the situations when a TV license is needed. You need a TV license to watch live TV (whether you use a TV or laptop to receive it) as it is being broadcasted. However, the TV licensing website says:

Your TV Licence for your main home won’t cover you in your second home except in the following limited circumstances:
a) you only use TV receiving equipment that is powered by its internal batteries;

I am not a lawyer… but mobile phones do happen to be powered by internal batteries. So if you only use a mobile phone to receive television at a second address, do you really need a TV license? Or is the actual wireless router (which is connected to the mains) the device which acts as the “receiver”?

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