Millions set to watch Wimbledon in office
By Colin Mann

As Britain steels itself for a potential fortnight of ‘Murray-mania’, which will see the British Number 1 tennis player once again attempt to become the first ‘Grand Slam’ winner of the modern era, research suggests that millions of employees could tune in at work, with employers decreeing ‘business as usual’ during the Wimbledon tournament. However, employers are reminded that a TV Licence is required for such viewing.

Figures released by TV Licensing – the body contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of the television licence fees and enforcement of the television licensing system – from a member poll conducted in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) show that the overwhelming majority of employers (86 per cent) say they won’t be allowing employees ‘time off’ to watch Murray’s progress.

However, separate figures suggest this won’t stop people tuning into the tournament: 7.1 million people, the largest audience of last year’s tournament, watched Murray’s performance in the 2010 semi-final in the middle of the working day; Over half of the UK tuned in (51 per cent) over the course of the competition, with 6.8 million people watching matches live online last year during last year’s tournament.

According to TV Licensing, with this trend expected to be repeated in 2011, the chances are that employees across the UK will be cheering on this year’s hopefuls from their desks. TV Licensing reminds employers that one TV Licence will cover their office, allowing staff to tune in to matches either on office screens or via their own PCs.

TV Licensing notes that Wimbledon signals the start of the great summer of sport, which sees many enthusiasts tuning in to watch, whether it is in the traditional way or live online via today’s multitude of TV-viewing gadgets and platforms.

Rose Beynon, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said it was fascinating to see how many people were now watching live online, on traditional TV sets or even in 3D. “We want to make sure anyone watching TV in the workplace is aware they need to be correctly licensed to do so. Some employers might assume if they don’t have a TV in the building, they don’t need to worry, but the rise of online streaming of live TV programmes means many more businesses need to be covered by a TV Licence nowadays,” she advised. “We’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a licence than risk a court case and a fine. A licence costs £145.50 (Є164.61) and can be bought in minutes online at: TV Licensing for Business.”

A TV Licence is legally required on work premises if anyone – whether staff or customers – watches TV programmes at the same time as they are shown on TV, whether on a computer, TV or any other type of equipment. If an employee is caught watching TV illegally, the business may be held liable and fined up to £1,000.