There is a lot of misinformation about the TV licence but as it stands these are the true facts.
1. A TV Licence is required in the UK to watch or record real-time or near real-time programmes as they are broadcast. This means that it doesn't matter if you watch via a Terrestrial Broadcast, Satellite or streamed on the internet, if it is a programme being watched as it is broadcast a licence is required. To watch on-demand catch-up services like netflix, iPlayer etc does not require a licence, providing you do not watch the live streams on the iPlayer only the catch-up. The iPlayer web site does give this warning if you click on a real-time stream telling you you need a licence to watch.
2. The TV licence is required to watch or record
TV not own equipment capable of receiving or recording TV. So you can legitimately own as many TVs, Video Recorders and DVRs as you like and as long as you are not watching or recording broadcast material on them you are not required to have a licence. Having an Aerial or Satellite dish attached to your house also does not require a licence. It is quite legitimate for you to have a dish that you may wish to use at a future date where upon you would obtain a licence. It is important to note that the law includes recording, so using a DVR to record a programme and then watch it later does require a licence, it is not the same as watching using a catch-up service.
3. Enforcement of the TV Licence is carried out by a private contractor 'Capita' who are the ones that will send out letters and who's 'enforcement officers' will call at your house to try and catch you out. Should they visit you they have no right to enter your home or business premises as they are ordinary employees of a company and therefore must be invited in by you. They do not have any powers given to them like the police or HMRC would have so do not be intimidated by them just inform them that you have no requirement for a TV licence and ask them to leave. You do not have to prove to them that you do not need a licence the burden of proof is on them to prove that you do need one.
It is increasingly common for people to drop paying for a TV licence as fewer people bother to watch programmes as they are broadcast instead preferring to watch what they want at a time that suits them. There are plenty of horror stories of TV licence people persuading people to sign an agreement that admits to evading the licence fee so be sure that everybody in your household knows that they should not watch any live streaming and tell any TV licensing person to leave.
Clearly there is a problem here in that the BBC is funded by the licence fee and the more people who choose to stop paying the licence and use catch-up services instead are not contributing to the costs of running the BBC so are effectively being subsidised by those that are paying the fee. There is much discussion going on about how this can be addressed and there may be a change in the law in the future that will require a licence to watch all programmes that were originally broadcast even for catch-up but that is not the case at the moment.