Preston and Blackpool TV licence flouts appear in court, with more than 200 prosecutions in the same day

TV licence flouts could be taken to court
TV licence flouts could be taken to court

Almost 250 people were prosecuted in one day in Lancashire for failing to have a TV licence.

It is an offence to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on any broadcast platform - terrestrial, satellite, cable and the internet - or to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer - unless you have a valid TV Licence.

Residents who are not licensed risk a fine of up to £1,000, plus any legal costs or compensation the court may order.

READ MORE: BBC TV licence sales have dropped for the first time in a decade – here’s why

But hundreds of residents are continuing to fall foul of the rule, leading to a string of prosecutions in the county.

In a single day at Preston Magistrates’ Court, 249 people, including 29 from Preston, were brought to court.

35 others live in Blackpool, 14 in Leyland, seven in Lancaster, eight in Fleetwood and 18 in Chorley.

Most defendants were in their 30s, but 32 were in their 50s, and two were in their 60s.

The defendants include two nurses, a healthcare assistant, bank staff and a doctor’s receptionist.

Since 1991, the BBC, in its role as the relevant licensing authority, has been responsible for enforcing the fee, and contracts companies to do the work under the trade mark ‘TV Licensing’.

A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “TV Licensing has a duty to enforce the law, and we do everything we can to help customers stay correctly licensed. We only ever prosecute as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted and when it is in the public interest, and the majority of first time offenders are not prosecuted if they buy a licence before their court date.

"TV licence evasion cases take up a small proportion of court time as they are dealt with in bulk in dedicated sessions and very few people attend court. The scheduling of cases is a matter for the courts and the number of cases in court on any one day is not directly related the overall rate of evasion or enforcement activity in the area.”