MORE than 700 people on Wearside risk prosecution after being caught watching TV without a licence.
A total of 750 people in Sunderland were found to be watching the box without a valid licence between January and June this year, compared with a figure of 204,130 nationally.
Those watching TV illegally risk being prosecuted and dealt a fine of up to £1,000.
Jenny Wilkinson, TV Licensing spokesman for the North of England, said: “Today’s figures paint a very positive picture as the vast majority of people in the UK continue to pay their licence fee.
“Unfortunately, a minority of people do not pay for their licence, which is unfair to the law-abiding majority who do pay.
“If people decide to watch TV without being properly licensed, they risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.
“We do understand some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost, including a weekly cash payment plan, a savings card and monthly Direct Debit scheme, which can all be set up very quickly online or over the phone.
“We also work with a range of money advice organisations. Their staff can provide useful information and payment advice to help people budget for a TV Licence.”
Consumer Credit Counselling Service director of external affairs Delroy Corinaldi added: “We work closely with people experiencing financial difficulties to help them manage their outgoings and meet household bills and expenses.
“TV Licensing makes the process of purchasing a licence as easy as possible, with many ways to pay and an informative website helps to ensure that people are correctly licensed.
“We would urge anyone having trouble with payments to contact TV Licensing so they can provide additional advice.”
Don’t pay penalty
A TV licence currently costs £145.50 per year.
It is required by anyone watching or recording programmes that are shown on TV, whether on a TV set or computer.
Further information on how and where to pay the licence fee can be found on the TV Licensing website at www.tvlicensing.co.uk.