To watch television you must obtain a TV License, which you can purchase online through this site and pay via direct debit: http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk. A colour license costs £145.50 per year but can be paid in monthly installments. One license covers one household. Even if you watch TV on your monitor set or your phone, you must have a license. Fines are up to £1000 if you do not. If you change homes, you transfer your license to your new address.
If you have a basic TV and aerial you can access BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. BBC runs everything from news to soap operas and comedies. Channel 4 is a bit more artistic and airs more controversial shows and documentaries. The other channels have a mix of comedy, drama and reality shows.
This is your best bet to obtaining hundreds of channels for ‘free’. New TVs come with Freeview. If you have an older TV, you can buy a Freeview receiver for less than £20 from Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk). Film 4 and BBC 3 are two channels that come with Freeview.
Cable and Satellite TV
To watch channels from your home country you will need cable, a satellite dish or an internet tuner. There are a plethora of companies that offer these services, which you can compare on http://www.uswitch.com.
The best known is Sky: http://www.sky.com
Sky is the premier digital satellite service in London. Entertainment packages start at £21 per month. If you’re a sports enthusiast you will definitely want Sky Sports. Combined entertainment and sports packages start at £43 per month. To set Sky up you will need a mini satellite dish and a Sky digi-box. You can also call a TV or Sky engineer who will do the work for you, there is a charge which varies according to your area, approximately £50 and usually you will have to pay upfront. An appointment is necessary but they are very prompt.
Its direct competitor is Virgin: http://www.virginmedia.com It is about the same process as above except that Virgin uses cables rather than mini-satellite dishes. In both cases the whole process should take about 1 hour to install, but it could run over if the engineer hits a problem such as a broken cable in the street.
In certain areas, such as conservation areas, it is not allowed to have a satellite dish in full view.
Most channels now offer the ability to watch their shows either live on the go or download recent episodes (normally up to 7 days) either on your computer or via a smartphone or tablet.
- BBC iPlayer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv
- ITV Player – https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/
- Channel 4 4oD – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/4od
- Channel 5 Demand 5 – http://www.channel5.com/demand5
- Sky Go – http://go.sky.com/vod/page/default/home.do
Alongside these Netflix and other streaming TV/movie services now have a presence in the UK.