More than 180,000 people – almost 3,500 a week – appeared in front of magistrates during 2012 after being accused of watching TV without paying the £145.50 fee.
Magistrates handled a total of 1.48m cases last year, meaning a record 12 per cent of court cases now involve TV licensing.
Women are disproportionately affected by the fee – which funds the BBC – with two thirds of cases brought against females. Last night the TV Licensing authority said the gender imbalance was because women are more likely to be at home when their inspectors call.
In total, 155,000 prosecutions resulted in a conviction, which can lead to a fine of up to £1,000. Those who refuse to pay can face jail.
The Ministry of Justice figures were published following a parliamentary question tabled by Lord Laird.