Go to navigation

Regulated entertainment

The person responsible for the function or the location where regulated entertainment takes place in front of an audience requires either a Premises Licence, Club Premises Certificate or a Temporary Events Notice.

Types of regulated entertainment

The Licensing Act 2003 sets out what activities are regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment and when they are licensable and those activities which are not and therefore exempt from the regulated entertainment regime. Changes to regulated entertainment took effect on 6 April 2015.

The descriptions of entertainment activities licensable under the 2003 Act are:

  • a performance of a play;
  • an exhibition of a film;
  • an indoor sporting event;
  • a boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  • a performance of live music;
  • any playing of recorded music;
  • a performance of dance;
  • and entertainment of a similar description to a performance of live music, any playing of recorded music or a performance of dance.

To be licensable, one or more of these activities needs to be provided for the purpose (at least partly) of entertaining an audience; has to be held on premises made available for the purpose of enabling that activity; and must also either: take place in the presence of a public audience, or where that activity takes place in private, be the subject of a charge made with a view to profit.


Authorisation for regulated entertainment is always required for entertainment activities that take place before 08.00 or after 23.00, unless exempted under any other provision of the 2003 Act.

Not licensable

There are a number of exemptions that mean that a licence (or other authorisation) under the 2003 Act is not required. We are unable to give examples of every eventuality or possible entertainment activity that is not licensable. However, the following activities are examples of entertainment which are not licensable:

  • activities which involve participation as acts of worship in a religious context;
  • activities in places of public religious worship;
  • education – teaching students to perform music or to dance; the demonstration of a product – for example, a guitar – in a music shop;
  • the rehearsal of a play or performance of music for a private audience where no charge is made with a view to making a profit;
  • Morris dancing (or similar);
  • Incidental music – the performance of live music or the playing of recorded music if it is incidental to some other activity; 
  • Incidental film – an exhibition of moving pictures if it is incidental to some other activity or if the film exhibition is solely to demonstrate a product, advertise any goods or services, or provide information, education or instruction.  This includes any film exhibition at a museum or art gallery. 
  • Live television or radio broadcasts is live and simultaneous; (please note if the event shown is on SKY television you are required to have a licence from SKY) A spontaneous performance of music, singing or dancing;
  • Garden fetes – or similar if not being promoted or held for purposes of private gain;
  • Films for advertisement, information, education or in museums or art galleries;
  • Vehicles in motion – at a time when the vehicle is not permanently or temporarily parked;
  • Games played in pubs, youth clubs etc. (e.g. pool, darts and table tennis);
  • Stand-up comedy; and
  • Provision of entertainment facilities (e.g. dance floors, stage)
  • Carol singers going from door to door, or just deciding to sing in a particular place, or even turning up unannounced in a pub and singing, incidental to other activities or part of a religious service would not require a licence,
  • Jukebox - the playing of recorded music that is incidental to other activities that are not themselves the provision of regulated entertainment will be exempt. A jukebox in a pub will not necessarily have to be authorised unless, the jukebox music is played at high volume.

As a result of deregulatory changes that have amended the 2003 Act, no licence is required for the following activities:

  • Plays: no licence is required for performances between 08.00 and 23.00 on any day, provided that the audience does not exceed 500.
  • Dance: no licence is required for performances between 08.00 and 23.00 on any day, provided that the audience does not exceed 500.
  • Films: no licence is required for ‘not-for-profit’ film exhibition held in community premises between 08.00 and 23.00 on any day provided that the audience does not exceed 500 and the organiser (a) gets consent to the screening from a person who is responsible for the premises; and (b) ensures that each such screening abides by age classification ratings.
  • Indoor sporting events: no licence is required for an event between 08.00 and 23.00 on any day, provided that those present do not exceed 1000.
  • Boxing or wrestling entertainment: no licence is required for a contest, exhibition or display of Greco-Roman wrestling, or freestyle wrestling between 08.00 and 23.00 on any day, provided that the audience does not exceed 1000.


For the purposes of regulated entertainment, the term “audience” refers to any person for whose entertainment (at least in part) any licensable activities are provided. An audience member need not be, or want to be, entertained: what matters is that an audience is present and that the purpose of the licensable activity is (at least in part) intended to entertain any person present.

The audience will not include performers, together with any person who contributes technical skills in substantial support of a performer (for example, a sound engineer or stage technician), during any associated activities. This includes setting up before the entertainment, reasonable breaks (including intervals) between activities and packing up thereafter. Similarly, security staff and bar workers will not form part of the audience while undertaking their duties.

More than one entertainment activity (or for a single activity, more than one performance or event) can be held concurrently, provided that the audience for each such performance or event does not exceed the threshold at which such a performance or event becomes licensable. In some circumstances, there will be a clear distinction between performances or events; for example, their taking place in separate rooms or on separate floors. However, organisers will have to ensure that audiences do not grow or migrate, so that the audience exceeds the relevant limit for any one performance or event at any time. If there is the possibility of audience migration, it might be easier and more flexible to secure an appropriate authorisation.

Private events

Events held in private are not licensable unless those attending are charged for the entertainment with a view to making a profit (including raising money for charity). For example, where a party is held for friends in a private dwelling featuring amplified live music, if a charge or contribution is made solely to cover the costs of the entertainment, the activity is not regulated entertainment. Similarly, any charge made to the organiser of a private event by musicians, other performers, or their agents does not of itself make that entertainment licensable – it would only do so if the guests attending were themselves charged by the organiser for that entertainment with a view to achieving a profit. The fact that this might inadvertently result in the organiser making a profit would be irrelevant, as long as there had not been an intention to make a profit.

Before entertainment is regarded as being provided for consideration, a charge has to be:

  • made by or on behalf of a person concerned with the organisation or management of the entertainment;
  • and paid by or on behalf of some or all of the persons for whom the entertainment is provided.

Community premises: music entertainment

No licence is required for a performance of live music or the playing of recorded music on community premises, between 08.00-23.00 on any day provided that:

  • the community premises are not authorised, by a premises licence or club premises certificate, to be used for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises;
  • the music entertainment is in the presence of an audience of no more than 500 people;
  • and a person concerned in the organisation or management of the music entertainment has obtained the prior written consent of the management committee of the premises, or if there is no management committee, a person who has control of the premises in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking, or failing that a person with a relevant property interest in the premises.

No licence is required for an exhibition of a film on community premises between 08.00-23.00 on any day provided that:

  • the film entertainment is not provided with a view to profit;
  • the film entertainment is in the presence of an audience of no more than 500 people;

Local Authority, Schools, Hospitals and Travelling Circuses

A Cross Activity Exemption is available to:

  • Any entertainment activity hosted by a local authority on their own premises, where there is a significant relationship between the local authority and the provider of the entertainment (e.g. principal and agent);
  • Any entertainment activity organised on a local authority’s behalf on that local authority’s premises by a cultural trust in discharge of a local authority’s discretionary power to arrange entertainment provision and support for the arts, including festivals and celebrations;
  • Any entertainment activity organised by a healthcare provider on their own hospital premises in partnership with a hospital charity;
  • Any entertainment event on school premises organised by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to benefit the school;
  • Any entertainment (excluding films and a boxing or wrestling entertainment) taking place at a travelling circus.

Due diligence

If a person is charged with the offence of carrying on an unauthorised licensable activity, their only defence is due diligence. The burden of proof when invoking this defence falls on the individual making the defence. This requires them to produce evidence that they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law. If found guilty, they may be liable for a maximum fine of £20,000 and/or a maximum of three months' imprisonment.

Other types of licence you may need

The Performing Rights Society and Phonographic Performance Limited collect and distribute licence fees for the public performance and broadcast of musical works, you should visit their websites to ensure that you are compliant with their regulations.

Fee exemptions

Applications for a Premises Licence where the only activity is regulated entertainment at particular types of premises may be exempted from the application fee and annual fees

Legal information

Please note that the information above is not legal advice. Legislation and procedures may change over time and the advice given is based on the information available at the current time. It is not necessarily comprehensive and will be subject to revision in the event of further government guidance and regulations. This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to or substitute for the relevant law.

The council is happy to provide information but cannot give advice on individual applications. Please seek legal and professional advice.

For more information contact Licensing Unit by telephone: 01634 306000 or by email: licensing@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Licensing Unit, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR