10 February 2017

No need to be down in the mouth, TV Licensing tells dentists

TV Licensing is reminding dental practices they need a TV Licence if patients watch live television at their premises when they turn up for their appointment.

Many dentists across the UK have TVs in their reception areas, where people can relax before having treatment.

And for many, a visit to the dentist can be a stressful time – but there are a number of options open to anyone who finds themselves in a stressful situation to reduce distress and fear, such as listening to music, having a friend or relative with them, watching TV, or programmes on iPlayer.

Professor Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology and Head of the Psychology Department at Birmingham City University, said: “When people are anxious, they tend to perceive things around them as being more stressful than they really are, as well as having a lower threshold for discomfort or pain. This can manifest as acute stress in many individuals. Any environment that has exciting, varying and distracting properties, such as music, watching TV or even having a friend or relative present, can help reduce distress and fear. Stress reduction such as this can also make long term avoidance of that environment much less likely.”

Dental practices need a TV Licence if customers or staff watch live TV programmes or  download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – whether on a TV, tablet, computer or any other type of equipment.

If the premises does not have a licence then the business risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. Customers watching live TV on their own devices when out and about, however, are covered by their home licence.

Mark Whitehouse, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said: “We’re really keen that all businesses, whatever their sector, stay on the right side of the law. Some dentists show live TV programmes in their reception to entertain patients while they’re waiting to be seen, but if people are going to be watching programmes in dental surgeries as they’re shown on TV, then the premises needs to be licensed.”

Dentists and other business owners can buy a licence using a range of methods. You can find out if you need a licence, buy one or tell us if your details have changed by visiting or by calling the TV Licensing businesses team on 0300 790 6112.

Business owners and managers should visit and download the Workplace Viewing Guide for display in a prominent part of the workplace, so everyone is clear when a licence is needed.

Your licence for your home address covers you to watch live TV on any equipment away from your address as long as it is powered by batteries. If you plug it in to the mains, you need to be covered by a licence at the place you are using it.

Paying for a TV Licence:

TV Licensing aims to make it as easy as possible for people to buy a TV Licence, which is why there are many different ways to pay.

•     Online – people are able to pay online at  by Direct Debit or with a debit or credit card

•     Direct Debit – monthly, quarterly or annual Direct Debit payment schemes are available and can be set up online   

•     Over-the-counter – people can pay at any of over 26,800 PayPoint outlets across the country or by cash or credit/debit card.

•     Debit or credit card over the phone – this facility accepts payment from a range of debit cards including Maestro, Delta and Connect

•     By post – send a cheque made payable to TV Licensing to: TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL

To find out more about paying in weekly instalments over the counter, online, by SMS or by phone on the cash payment plan, call 0300 790 6078 or visit

For more information about any of our payment options and concessions, to set up Direct Debit payments or to pay by debit or credit card please visit or call 0300 790 6112.