TV and copyright licences
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.
If you offer short-stay accommodation (of any kind) to overnight visitors and have installed television sets in the accommodation, you need a 'Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence' (hotel licence).
If you play any copyright music in public or on your premises or if it is performed live, you may need a PRS for Music licence.
If you play recorded music in public on your premises (this includes radio and TVs) you may need a PPL licence.
If you offer a DVD film library, you need a DVD Concierge licence.
If you operate an in-room entertainment system you will need a Hotel Vision licence.
If you show films in public areas, including on 'free to air' channels such as ITV or BBC1, you need a MPLC licence.
Do I need a special licence?
Yes: if you offer short-stay accommodation to overnight visitors, whether in serviced or self-catering accommodation, and you provide a device on which your guests can view TV programmes, you need to apply for a 'Hotel and Mobile Units Television Licence' (hotel licence). It should be noted that a licence is required regardless of whether the TV programmes are viewed through a TV, computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD/VHS recorder or any other device.
- Note: despite its name, the hotel licence encompasses accommodation ranging from hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and inns to holiday cottages, flats and chalets through to camping and caravan sites and narrowboats.
The TV Licensing Authority says that you should always take out a hotel licence if you are providing televisions for the use of paying guests. While staying on your property, guests are not covered by their home licence. There is one exception: long-term hotel residents (i.e. those staying over 28 days) are not covered by a hotel licence, but they must have an ordinary television licence.
- Note: While accommodation provided in sited caravans falls under the hotel licence scheme, there are different rules for touring caravans or mobile homes. The hirer of a touring caravan or mobile home may be covered by the licence for their home address as long as the television receivers are not being used at their home and caravan or mobile home at the same time.
Hotel licence fees
Your licence fee will be based on the number of units of overnight accommodation you have to let.
If you have up to 15 units with televisions installed, you will pay one full fee of £145.50.
If you have more than 15 units, you will pay one full fee for the first 15 and an additional £145.50 for every extra 5 units (or fewer).
The hotel licence is available only from TV Licensing. (See Further guidance below for details).
What does it cover?
It will cover any equipment that can be used to watch or record TV programmes in:
hotels, inns, guest houses, holiday villages, caravans and campsites
the owner's private rooms on the site
on-site staff accommodation (if provided by the hotel/accommodation owner)
lounges or other common rooms that are open to people staying on the site.
It does not cover:
TV equipment which is not provided by the proprietor of the accommodation
TV equipment in long-term letting accommodation and for permanent residents.
- Note: an important feature of the regulations is that a licence only covers one or more units of guest accommodation ‘on the same site’ or ‘within the same premises’. That means a site or premises that is not divided or separated by any public thoroughfare such as a road or footpath or by another private property. If there is an annex to your premises on the other side of the road from the main building or if you let holiday cottages in different locations, you will need a separate licence for each location.
Copyright licences for music
You will need to obtain copyright licences if you are playing copyrighted music ‘in public’ on your premises, whether it is through a radio, TV, CD or DVD player or any other device, or it is performed live.
‘In public’ means any occasion other than a family/domestic occasion (such as a wedding), and includes guests’ rooms. So, even if you have the radio in the breakfast room or simply provide a radio in a guest’s room, you may require a licence.
There are two separate licences which relate to recorded music:
- PRS for Music licence - This licence relates to the music itself
- PPL licence - This licence relates to the recording.