Utilities & Services

all you need for relocation to scotland: edinburgh

Television, TV Licence Cost & Free TV Channels

Digital TV

The whole of Scotland switched to digital television (equivalent of the French télévision numérique - TNT) in 2011, giving each household the choice of up to 60 free digital TV channels and up to 12 HD channels. This service is only available through an aerial and is provided by FREEVIEW™ which is a free digital TV service.

did-you-know.png Did you know?

France and the UK use the same digital TV system. This means that if your French digital TV has a built in TNT receiver (digital terrestrial) it will work fine here. If your French television is analogue, it will not work in the UK.

If your French TV does not have the TNT built in then you will need to buy a digital box (start from around £20) and plug it into the back of your TV via a SCART socket. If your TV does not have a SCART socket, you can buy a digital box that contains a "Radio Frequency (RF) modulator and output" which you can then connect to the RF socket on your TV.

SCART_scocket.gif SCART socket


Alternatively, to watch Freeview, you can buy a digital TV recorder which will allow you to watch a channel whilst recording another.

Visit the Freeview website to see which channels are available as well as the live TV guide.

warning-32.png TNT HD and Freeview HD are incompatible.

TV Licence Cost

You must pay a TV licence to watch or record television programmes.  The current licence for a colour TV costs £145.50 per year and £49.00 if it’s a black and white TV. The licence fee is frozen until 2016.

practical-info.png Practical info

You must pay your TV licence if you watch and record TV programmes using a:

• TV

• computer

• mobile phone (cellphone)

• games console

• digital box

•DVD/VHS recorder or any other device

When you buy a TV from a shop or online, the retailer will pass on your address to TV Licensing - a trade mark of the BBC. TV Licensing maintains a database of all the premises in the UK, of everyone who has recently bought a TV, video/DVD recorder or TV tuner card and of everyone with a licence. 

The assumption is that everyone has a TV. TV Licensing runs the addresses in their database against all the registered TV licences. Irrelevant of whether you have a TV or not, if you are not paying the licence, your address will come up with “no registered TV licence”. This is when you will hear from TV Licensing… 

By the way, TV Licensing uses detector vans that can pick up the signals from a TV or monitor and pinpoint the exact address of where they come from.

How do I pay the TV licence? 

The following link to the TV Licensing website will tell you if you need a licence as exceptions do apply. Basically if you are not a student, are under 75 years old, without sight impairment, you need to apply for a licence.

Once you’ve bought your TV and if you do need to pay a licence, you can register and pay online on the TV Licensing website. It is easy and quick. You can make a one off payment each year or pay quarterly or monthly by Direct Debit.

If you do not want to apply online, you will receive a letter from TV Licensing asking you to pay the licence.

did-you-know.png Did you know?

The UK Government has frozen the licence fee at its 2010 level of £145.50 per year until the end of the current BBC Charter period in 2016. 

Buying a TV

If you’re new to Scotland and Edinburgh in particular, you won’t necessarily know the names of the stores which sell electrical equipment such as televisions.

I have selected a few below.

gold-star.pnggold-star.png John Lewis Department Stores (see the article and review about John Lewis in the "Shopping & Supermarkets" section).

Conveniently located in the city centre, the Edinburgh store is a true department store with everything for home, garden, fashion, leisure and…TVs. It is open 7 /7.

The TV & audio department is in the basement (level “0” if you take the lift) and can be accessed directly by foot from Little King Street.

You will find at John Lewis the best names in everything and that naturally includes televisions, audio and video equipment e.g. Sony, Philips, Panasonic. The TVs they sell incorporate the latest technology such as smart TV, LED backlighting, full HD, 3D ready, etc. Visiting that department is a feast for the eye however, things get even better for 3 reasons:

1. John Lewis staff. Staff there are not just employed, they are also partners i.e. they are co-owners in the business. This probably explains why they are so good. They are polite, very knowledgeable, helpful, never intrusive or persistent (none of this hard selling nonsense), here when you need them, patient, smiling…

2. John Lewis free guarantee. This is unique to them. All televisions include a free 5 years guarantee

3. There is a free standard UK delivery on orders over £50 or only £3 for standard UK delivery on orders under £50.


Dixons Retail plc is Europe’s largest specialist electrical retailer and services company. It includes major UK names such as Currys and PC World which, they too, sell televisions, electronics, domestic appliances, photographic equipment, computers and related services.

practical-info.png Practical info

Dixons no longer has a high street presence and can be found online only. The exceptions are Dixons Travel stores which are based at airports and the Eurotunnel terminal.

Put simply, Dixons stocks TV brands ranging from the top end (Sony, Philips) to the less well known (and cheaper) brands such as Digihome. You will of course find the latest technology as well as TV sizes under 22” going to over 55”. 

It is worth bearing in mind that Dixons regularly offers “clearance and bargains” across all sorts of products, including TVs. 

Delivery is available, usually at a cost, and it varies according to item size, time of chosen delivery, where you live, whether installation is needed, etc. Small items have a free standard delivery.


TVs and other products come with the standard manufacturer’s guarantee (usually 1 year). If you want an extended guarantee then Dixons provides a paying after-care service plan. 

Bear in mind that for a £500 television, the extra guarantee can add well over £100. By comparison, a £500 TV bought from John Lewis comes with a free 5 years guarantee.


Leading supermarkets (biggest stores) sell televisions, including the top brands. Any additional guarantee may come at a cost and vary according to the price of the TV.

• Tesco

• Sainsburys

• Asda

practical-info.png Practical info

Electrical stores and leading supermarkets have sales, bargains, clearance at the same time. If you are planning to buy a TV do visit the stores’ websites to compare which sale offers the best deal.

What are you looking for?

TV licence
A licence is required to watch or record TV as it is being broadcast. This applies if you use a television, computer, laptop, mo…
Read More
Tags : TV licence

See also:


Utilities & Services

Can't find what you're looking for?

Try the search, another category, or register to contribute.

Key to symbols

child-friendly-32.png Ideal for families gold-star.png Our rating system of 1-5 stars
did-you-know.png Did you know? warning-32.png Important alert
practical-info.png Timesaving information disabled-access-32.png Accessibility

What's new?

In Scotland, it is an offence to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 unless the landlord (in a pub, hotel club, off-…

Get this feed