Christmas surge in viewing sparks TV licence reminder

TV owners have been reminded they need a licence.
TV owners have been reminded they need a licence.

Families across the area will watch more than five additional hours of their favourite television programmes over Christmas week, according to new figures released by TV Licensing.

With TV taking centre stage among the tinsel and turkey in homes across UK, TV Licensing are reminding people of the importance of making sure they can legally watch the festive favourites.

In the festive holidays we squeeze in even more time doing what is arguably the nation’s favourite pastime – watching TV. Over Christmas 2012 residents of East Anglia viewed, on average, 33 hours and 35 minutes of TV - more than five extra hours compared to the national figure of 28 hours for the rest of the year.

However, the figures also reveal some parts of the UK watch more tinsel-TV than others. In Wales the figure rises to 39 hours and 49 minutes of TV viewed over Christmas and residents of the North East are not far behind with 38 hours and 36 minutes.

Those people living in London watch the least, turning on to just under 31 hours over the festive week.

Christmas is traditionally the time of special edition episodes of our favourite shows and when soap and drama storylines reach their climatic peak. EastEnders famously attracted 30.1m viewers for the 1986 Christmas Day episode, which featured the spectacular break-up of Angie and Den.

The 2001 Christmas Day edition of Only Fools and Horses was watched by an audience of 21.35m, making it the most viewed programme of the decade. In 2012 EastEnders again topped the ratings with 9.7m viewers tuning in on Christmas Day with a further 1.9m ‘timeshifting’ the episode to catch-up with the goings-on in Albert Square during the following week.

Mark Whitehouse, spokesperson for TV Licensing in East Anglia, said: “Christmas is always a great time of year for TV fans with many of our favourite programmes making a festive appearance, not to mention the annual showing of some classic films. But whether you just tune in to see the Queen’s Speech or spend the entire holiday channel surfing, it is important to be aware of the need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV.

“We would always prefer people pay than risk a fine or prosecution and we certainly don’t want people to be starting the New Year facing the prospect of court and a possible £1,000 fine.”

More than 24,000 people bought or renewed their TV Licence over the Christmas Bank Holiday last year. It’s easy to buy a licence online, amend or check personal details at any time. Go to