Can we show news channels on TV screens in public spaces at our college or university? (24 May 2012)

As well as a TV licence, the showing of a broadcast news channel will require copyright permission, also known, confusingly, as a 'licence.'  Copyright permission is required unless an exception applies.

TV Licence

Guidance on the TV licensing requirements for a college or university to show television programmes is available on the TV licensing website.  A TV licence will be required.  Usually one TV Licence will cover the entire college or university and includes all buildings being used for educational purposes.  This appears to apply whether or not members of the public will be able to view the television programmes broadcast in the reception areas or library, for example.


The showing of free-to-view television news channels, such as BBC News 24, on TV screens within public spaces at a college or university is unlikely to be covered by the exception in s.34 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which allows the showing of a broadcast for the purposes of instruction.  Unless the showing of the broadcast content can be linked to a course of study it is unlikely to be considered “instruction”.  Furthermore, s.34 is limited to showing a broadcast to an audience of "teachers and pupils".  The showing of a broadcast on a TV screen located in a public area (such as the library or reception area) where it can be viewed by a wider audience is therefore unlikely to be included.    

On the basis s.34 does not apply, it is likely that the college or university will require a PRS and PPL licence (in addition to a TV licence) to show television programmes on screens within the premises.  These schemes license music and sound recordings contained within television broadcasts shown in public places.  Further information on the PRS and PPL licences is available in JISC Legal’s FAQ and the applicability of the licences to television broadcasts specifically is contained in FAQs 2 & 4 on the PRS website.  

The showing of free to view television content on TV screens within a college or university will not require an ERA licence unless what is being shown is a recording made by the college or university of a broadcast. 

In summary a college or university will require a TV licence and a PRS and PPL licence to show free-to-view television channels in public spaces.


Posted on 24/05/2012

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