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World Cup TV Licensing Headache for Employers

As the nation unfurls its flags for a summer of World Cup action, employers have been warned that allowing their staff to watch the matches online could result in a £1,000 fine from licensing agencies.

In London alone, approximately two million employees are expected to watch mid-afternoon matches online during office hours.  But figures released this month show that thousands of firms around the country lack the correct licensing agreements allowing staff to stream live games over the internet.

“Some managers might assume if they don't have a TV in the building, they don't need to worry, but the rise of online TV means many more businesses need to be covered by a TV licence,” said Jon Shaw, TV Licensing spokesman.  “We'd rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk a court case and a fine.”

A recent poll of 1,500 London office managers found that 50% were unaware of the need for a licence when watching online, while a separate survey of UK employees indicated 35% may watch TV at work using a computer or laptop, meaning up to 10 million workers around the country could tune in online to watch the trophy’s fate.

However, a £145.50 TV licence is legally required if anyone watches TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on television, whether on a computer, TV or any other type of equipment.  If an employee is caught, the business may be held liable and fined up to £1,000.

TV licensing’s governing authorities have warned employers that  officers will be out patrolling during the World Cup, visiting business premises identified as unlicensed, and enforcing on-the-spot fines.

“Employers will not only need to make sure they put plans in place for staff to watch matches, but they will need to make sure they are properly licensed and get a TV License for their business,” added Federation of Small Businesses Chief Spokesman, Stephen Alambritis.