Prisoners don’t have to pay the TV licence whereas from June 2020 most pensioners will

11th Feb 2020


Pensioners have had free TV taken away.


This is partially correct. About two thirds of people over 75 who currently have a free TV licence will have to pay for it after June 2020.


Prisoners in the UK can watch TV all day for free.


Prisoners rewarded for good behaviour can have a TV in their prison cell. Prisoners are exempt from the TV licence fee, but a rental charge of £1 per cell per week applies.

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An image claiming that prisoners can watch TV all day for free, but pensioners have had their free TV taken away, has been shared on Facebook more than 250,000 times.

This post refers to the announcement last year that TV licences will no longer be free for all people over 75. This was a widely discussed issue and we’ve written about it before here.

A TV licence is a fee for watching live TV, as well as on demand and catch-up TV through BBC iPlayer, in the UK and currently costs £154.50 per household annually. About 4.6 million households received a free over-75s TV licence in 2018/19, funded by the UK government.

From June 2020, free TV licences will only apply to people over 75 who receive Pension Credit. The BBC estimates that around 1.5 million households will be eligible once the changes are made, which is about one third of households that qualify under current rules.

Prisoners who have been rewarded for good behaviour can get a TV in their cell. This allows access to nine free-to-view channels for a weekly TV rental fee of £1 per cell per week. Not paying this fee or bad behaviour are two reasons why a TV may be taken away.

This fee does not include the TV licence fee as TVs used by prisoners in cells and communal prison areas are exempt from this charge.

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