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BBC licence fee may soon be mandatory for iPlayer users

by Steven Williamson on 31 October 2011, 12:01

Tags: BBC

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Users of BBC iPlayer, currently exploiting a loophole in the law that enables them to watch the video-on-demand service without having to pay a licence fee, may soon be forced to cough up.

The Guardian reports that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is looking to tighten up on licencing laws by making British viewers who use the service online, or via a range of devices including games consoles, to pay the £145.50 a year fee for the privilege of catching-up on the channel’s TV schedule.

Currently, those who watch the iPlayer are exempt from the licence fee, but with the service becoming increasingly popular and available across a wide range of Internet-enabled devices, the government body is keen to move with the times and impose the fee.



“Government is aware of developing technologies and the changing viewing habits of those who watch television programmes,” said a spokesperson at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. “How the BBC is funded as these issues evolve is a matter the department will need to address in the near future.

The BBC isn’t so concerned, telling the newspaper that only a small percentage (0.2 percent) of its viewers use the iPlayer. "We believe the current system works very efficiently and do not see a need to change its scope at present," said a spokesperson for the channel.

However, the governing body is concerned that as catch-up TV becomes increasingly popular, and available across a wide range of platforms, users may decide to do all their TV watching online and therefore escape the licence fee completely.


HEXUS Forums :: 60 Comments

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Personally have no issue with this, as long as my license fee reflects the additional revenue they will be receiving due to the change…
0.2% of viewers use iPlayer? I thought it would be higher than that?
And how, exactly, do they plan on enforcing this? Will ISPs be forced to hand over the details of people accessing the services? Or does everyone with an internet connection get pestered whether they use iPlayer or not?

Another great boot in the gob for web neutrality then… :rolleyes:
'However, the governing body is concerned that as catch-up TV becomes increasingly popular, and available across a wide range of platforms, users may decide to do all their TV watching online and therefore escape the licence fee completely.'

Don't you have to have a TV license if you own a TV, regardless if you only use it for playing games on consoles. Hence its called a TV licence, not a BBC licence.
scaryjim
And how, exactly, do they plan on enforcing this?

Simple registering for iplayer and providing your TV licence number I would imagine would be the easiest way to enforce it.