Latest legislative updates
Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, gives a monthly update on the latest regulatory changes affecting the hospitality industry.
Last updated 13th June 2017
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.
At a glance:
Changes to copyright licences for showing films
- You may now need an additional licence if you play TV channels that show films in public areas.
A note on TV licences and self-catering properties
- Kurt provides an overview of the 'hotel licence' and when it applies to self-catering units
Using surveillance equipment on your premises
- If you have CCTV at your business, you need to comply with the Protection of Freedoms Act and the Data Protection Act.
Changes to copyright for showing films
Copyright licensing for playing music and films on TVs in hospitality businesses can be something of a minefield for small operators, with the need to get up to four different licences depending on the range of services that you provide to customers. There is the added complexity of getting the right version of each type of licence you require, which depends upon the size of your establishment and where in the establishment the copyright material is being played.
Up until now there has been exemption for showing films via free-to-air services– e.g., if you have a TV in a lounge or bar that plays films on channels such as BBC or ITV.
However, there has been a requirement on the UK Government to remove that exemption to bring UK copyright law into line with European copyright law. As such, you now need to gain a licence through the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) to provide this service to your customers. As with PPL and PRS for audio copyright licencing, MPLC is a collection society which licenses rights on behalf of various film companies and independent producers. The fee is set by the size of the public area in the establishment which, in this case, does not include private areas such as bedrooms. A table of the charges is available on the MPLC website.
It is important to note that a MPLC licence is not required for TVs in guests’ bedrooms, or if you have a TV in a public area of your establishment that is locked onto a channel that does not play films (e.g. the BBC News channel or Sky Sports). However, you cannot just say that “we only show the news channel” - the test is that the TV is not able to be switched to film-playing channels.
A note on TV licences and self-catering properties
All tourist accommodation – including self-catering properties – are usually eligible for the ‘Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence’ (commonly known as a ‘hotel licence’).
This licence, which covers all types of accommodation from hotels through to self-catering units and tents, is needed because you are benefiting financially from providing copyright material to your guests.
The amount that you pay for a hotel licence is based on the number of rooms or units you have. The current rates are:
- £145 for properties with up to 15 rooms that have televisions installed
- £145, plus £145.50 for each additional five rooms (or part thereof) for properties with more than 15 rooms
However, the regulations covering TV licencing state that a hotel licence covers one or more units of guest accommodation ‘on the same site’ or ‘within the same premises’. While this is easily understandable when related to hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, there are some grey areas in the interpretation of the regulations when it comes to self-catering properties or accommodation such as static caravans or yurts.
For example, if you own a number of different self-catering cottages in different locations, you will need a separate licence for each property as they are not ‘on the same site’. Units located on land with separate titles can also be deemed not to be ‘on the same site’ even if the land is contiguous. Similarly, land that is separated by a public thoroughfare such as a road or even a footpath can also be deemed to be not ‘on the same site’.
There is also some ambiguity regarding places being ‘within the same premises’ where different types of accommodation are available on the same piece of land. For example, if you have a B&B with four rooms and two yurts in the grounds, these could be deemed to be two separate operations and each operation would need its own licence.
A reasonable rule of thumb in this situation is that if you simply allocate a unit to a guest when they arrive, the more likely it is that the premises will be covered by a single hotel licence. However, if the accommodation types you provide are not interchangeable (i.e., the guest books a particular type), the more likely it is that you will need a separate licence for each one or each grouping of units.
It is always advisable to contact TV Licensing directly to check that you have the right licence for the specific circumstances of your business.
- Note: Remember, depending on the circumstances, you may also need a PRS licence, PPL licence, MPLC licence or a Filmbank licence (if you also provide DVDs for guest use). For more information on licensing, read the TV & Copyright licences section.