SOMERSET employers are being reminded to get a licence after more than 1,000 businesses were caught watching TV without a licence during 2010.

Companies can be fined up to £1,000 for tuning into the box illegally.

South-West TV Licensing spokesman Warren Carr said firms must be aware they need a licence if anyone on their premises – including staff and customers – watches or records a TV programme at the same time it is being shown on TV, whether on a television set, computer or other type of equipment.

He added: “It’s our job to make sure businesses and individuals are aware of when they need a TV licence and to make it as easy as possible for them to pay.

“To be fair to the majority who do pay the licence fee, we have to take action against those who watch TV illegally and, as the survey shows, those businesses who do try to get away with it might find the price of being caught to be higher than just a fine of up to £1,000.

“We’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk being prosecuted.”

Phil McCabe, Forum of Private Businesses spokesperson, said: “Whether employees are making the most of a more relaxed atmosphere or just taking advantage of a quiet Christmas lunch hour, it’s important that bosses make sure they’re correctly licensed.

“The majority of businesses want to be correctly licensed and, although it’s been a tough year for many, we’d always advise our members to make sure they’re on the right side of the law”.