MORE than 200 people in Larne were caught out watching TV without having licences last year.
They are among 1,100 licence dodgers in East Antrim and 20,000 in Northern Ireland faced with prosecution and fines up to £1,000 each.
Latest figures from TV Licensing reveal that more than 210 people were caught watching TV without a licence in Larne in 2010, compared with more than 470 in Newtownabbey, more than 320 in Carrickfergus and more than 110 in Ballyclare.
However, the average evasion rate remains at a low of just over five per cent, meaning that almost 95 per cent of properties are correctly licensed.
Deborah King TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “It’s not fair on the vast majority of people in Larne who pay their licence fee for some people to watch TV without paying. We try to give people every chance to get on the right side of the law, but ultimately if they fail to pay, we will take action.
“We take TV licence evasion very seriously and any householder or business caught watching TV without a licence can face a prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.”
Deborah added: “We do understand that some people may find it difficult to pay their licence fee in one go, which is why we offer numerous ways to spread the cost, including monthly direct debit, which can be set up very quickly online, and a weekly or monthly cash payment plan.”
A colour TV licence costs £145.50 and is required by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment.
TV Licensing has over 30 million UK addresses on its database and can tell at the click of a button which addresses are unlicensed. Such addresses will receive reminder letters and possibly a phone call before a visit from an enquiry officer is scheduled.
Detector vans and handheld detectors can be used by enquiry officers to check if anyone in an unlicensed property is watching TV illegally, but the database is the main enforcement tool.