TV Licensing urges dentists to stay on the right side of the law

TV Licensing is reminding dental practices they need a TV Licence if patients watch live television while waiting for their appointment.

Dental visits can often be stressful for patients, but there are a number of options for reducing distress and fear associated with such visits. So, while many dentists across the UK have TVs in their reception areas to help patients relax before having treatment, they could also play music, or encourage patients to bring a friend or relative with them.

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.’

The right side of the law

It’s not only watching live TV programmes that deems a TV Licence necessary; downloading or watching BBC programmes on iPlayer – whether on a TV, tablet, computer or any other type of equipment – also warrants a TV Licence.

If the practice 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. 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.

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.’

For more information, including guidance on when a licence is needed, visit

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