THE NUMBER of Coleraine people watching television without a licence is more than double that of Portrush and Portstewart combined, according to official figures released this week.
More than 270 Coleraine residents were caught without a valid licence last year compared with just 130 in the two seaside towns.
Surprisingly, the recession has not forced an increase in the number of evasions of the £145 fee with Province-wide figures holding steady at 5% of the population or 15,100 for the last five years.
The vast majority of people locally - some 19 out of every 20 households and businesses - are correctly licensed in accordance with the legal requirements.
Deborah King TV Licensing spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said: “TV viewing is as popular as ever, with the percentage of households who have a television set at 96.7%*, and it’s our role to make sure everyone is aware of when they need to be covered by a licence. On behalf of licence fee payers in Northern Ireland, we are committed to tackling evasion and enforcing the law amongst the small minority who should pay, but don’t. It’s only fair.
“People are given every opportunity to pay, but, if they fail to do so and watch TV illegally, we will seek a prosecution. The penalty is a fine of up to £1,000, plus court costs and a victim surcharge. Anyone found guilty is also required to buy a TV Licence at £145.50 if they still need one or they could face a second prosecution. It’s really not worth the risk.”
thly cash payment plan.
Information to help people decide which payment option will work best for them can be found on the TV Licensing website – www.tvlicensing.co.uk.