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Britons have been told they must pay a TV licence fee if they want to watch BBC Internet broadcasts on a PC – or risk a stiff fine.

TVL, the UK’s television-licensing authority, issued the warning last week on the eve of the World Cup soccer finals in Germany, which the BBC is broadcasting live online as well as on TV

 Furious Net surfers claimed TVL was out of line, since no TV set was involved in picking up a pure Internet feed, and no licence should be required.

But TVL told one Web site that the definition of a “television receiver” in the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 covers any apparatus used for the purpose of receiving – by wireless telegraphy or otherwise – any TV program service.

The authority said this means that the TV-licensing regulations cover Internet broadcasts on PCs, PDAs and mobile phones.

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