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BBC wants TV licence to extend to BBC iPlayer on demand content

Sam Loveridge


BBC iPlayer

The BBC believes the TV licence fee should extend to include all BBC iPlayer content in the future.

BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall explained the broadcaster’s belief that the licence fee should be “modernised” in a speech at the Oxford Media Convention.

Hall outlined that the licence fee should take account of the way we consume TV content in the digital age on our smartphones, tablets, consoles and computers.

“One of the advantages of the licence fee is that it’s flexible and has adapted over the years,” said Lord Hall. “When and how best to take the next step is, of course, a matter for the government.”

“Our view is that there is room for modernisation so that the fee applies to the consumption of BBC TV programmes, whether live on BBC 1 or on-demand via the iPlayer or other services.”

An estimated 500,000 UK homes – around 2 per cent – only consume on-demand TV without the need for a TV license, compared to those who watch live programming.

“Around 90 per cent of all television viewing is still live. Well under 2 per cent of households consume only on-demand TV content. And this number is growing only slowly. Funding by licence fee therefore remains practical and sustainable.”

If the BBC was to close the iPlayer loophole, it would gain an estimated additional £72 million in budget, so it’s not too hard to see why the BBC is keen to make such a move.

He added that the licence fee change is “not a compromise, least-bad option. It underpins the success of the BBC.”

A TV licence extension would require government approval.

It wouldn’t be out of the question to see such a TV licence change modified to also extend to on-demand content from other broadcasters like ITV, Channel Four or Channel Five.

Read more: Best TVs 2014

Via: Guardian

Andrew Howard-Williams

February 27, 2014, 10:15 pm

The BBC thinks that if it keeps putting its hand out that they should have it filled with more and more money.
Its about time the Licence Fee was abolished and the BBC went Commercial.
Its bad enough that Sky charges to watch its shows without the BBC robbing people.


February 27, 2014, 11:11 pm

The unique funding structure of the BBC allows them to produce an entirely different calibre of programmes than the commercial UK channels.
Although they have their share of dancing with the stars type shows they also produce world class documentaries and programmes such as Sherlock and Dr Who. When did ITV ever operate at that level?

More than that, by being free of the regular commercial pressures they halt the race to the bottom that you see in other countries where there is no incentive to balance profit with quality as commercial channels are up against them. In this sense they make all channels slightly better just by existing.

It's well worth the license fee, and it makes perfect sense for the iPlayer to fall under its umbrella.

Tim Sutton

February 28, 2014, 12:27 am

Well said.

The BBC is something to be cherished. It's not until you spend a lot of time abroad that you can realise just how unique and fantastic it is.

I don't see any reason why the license fee should not extend to iPlayer. I'm pretty sure it won't involve any additional fee, it'll just require you to have a TV license,

Also for some reason the BBC really annoys people who read The Daily Mail, and for that alone it's worth every penny of the license fee.

Bob Stuart

February 28, 2014, 7:28 am

Well said again. I'm happy to pay for my TV license and think I get great value for money. I shudder at the thought of it going commercial. If you read the constant hate against the BBC in the press you'd believe everyone in the country wanted it to be abolished - that same press that owns shares in or runs it's competitors. What a surprise.


February 28, 2014, 8:43 am

It would be a disaster if BBC moved to advertising revenue instead of a license fee, as others are saying here. Not just annoying ads but the quality of programming would be entirely based on what advertisers value.
I'm one of the 2% - no TV at home, only watch iPlayer on demand, not live. Would I pay a license fee to watch TV online and listen to radio...yes I would.


February 28, 2014, 10:33 am

Agree with the sentiment, but its wrong to say that dramas like Sherlock and Dr Who are in any way unique to the beeb. The homegrown commercial channels create plenty of high quality dramas too.


February 28, 2014, 11:21 am

And just how are they going to police it?
TV Detector Vans? :)


February 28, 2014, 11:27 am

Clearly the current TV Licence makes no sense if more and more people avoid paying it by only watching catch-up services. The programmes still need to be made and funded. Why should those who watch it live be paying for those who chose not to?

On the other hand however, I think the BBC is much too big for its boots, and whilst there are some gems it also produces endless drivel to fill up too many channels and could operate a much leaner and higher quality service focused on differentiated content and not just competing on ratings. And it could do that for much less than it costs now.

Scott Williamson

February 28, 2014, 1:18 pm

I think this loophole needs to be plugged. I love the bbc and I'd like to see it preserved. Perhaps though it should become a subscription service, with a free subscription given to those of us with a license. Not only would this plug the gap, I would like full access when travelling, something that could be provided with a login and password.

Tim Sutton

February 28, 2014, 3:38 pm

With a unique login provided when you buy your TV license. There will be some sort of system to provide for people who live in one shared address (families etc), but its hardly difficult to do.


February 28, 2014, 3:54 pm

Then there would be no problem introducing it as a subscription-based system and only making those who want to subscribe pay, and not every one.
How would you ensure the uniqueness in use? If I give my neighbour my unique login when I am not using it, how would they stop that?
What about multiple devices - which is the nub of this issue anyway? Do they limit it to only one device at a time? Otherwise, what is the limit on the devices I can use, and how do they know those devices are mine? Do they introduce a scheme like Sky where you have to register your device?

Once you start adding this all up, then the cost of administering it would probably cost more than the revenue they hope to gain.

Andrew Howard-Williams

February 28, 2014, 7:55 pm

Ok Fair enough if the BBC wants to extend the BBC iPlayer under the licence fee but those using Channel 4's 40d player and any other Commerical Player should not have to have a licence to use them as they dont belong to the BBC (this I think is fair).


February 28, 2014, 9:02 pm

Sherlock and Doctor Who?! Hardly a shining example of quality programs. What about 'The Wire', '24', 'Generation Kill', 'Pillars of the Earth', 'House of Cards', 'True Detective', 'Games of Thrones'. Etc. How many of these great series were BBC? None. These series are original and not the usual BBC molded product.

I got rid of my license 3 years ago and have been bombarded by TV Licencing since, with threats of court action, fines etc. If I was an older person I would feel totally intimidated by this form of bullying.

If 'BBC' introduced this demand service charge, I think '2%' (where did they get this ludicrous figure?) would just give up watching it - that would be a case of the BBC chopping their nose off to spite their face.


March 1, 2014, 3:22 pm

I mostly listen to the radio.


March 1, 2014, 10:04 pm

As a Christian, I believe that the BBC has become wholly immoral in far too much of its programming. In many respects it is 'dangerous' to view the immorality which pours night by night into homes. It is also a 'fanatical' and an almost obsessive propaganda machine for the false and ridiculous theory of evolution. Therefore, I can no longer support financially, this anti-Christian broadcasting system. I withdrew paying for and viewing live TV 18 moths ago. The TV bits went in the bin and it is the best thing I have done for years. Contrary to common misbelief, it is perfectly possible to function in life without a television.


March 2, 2014, 1:17 pm

The licence fee is one licence per house, no matter how many watch the telly, so the subscription is one IP address per licence. Simple to set up and simple to enforce. To watch iPlayer on the move they grant a limited number of mobile device activations that need to be setup from your home network.

In the unlikely event your house uses two or more IP addresses they just get the ISP to confirm that all the IPs are billed to the

same physical address.


March 2, 2014, 4:19 pm

and how does that deal with dynamic IP addresses? IP Addresses for mobile devices? And why should there be a limit on how many mobile device activations I have? Is there a limit on how many TV sets I have in my house? And what about visitors - are they allowed to connect?
The questions are endless. The answers are non-trivial. And the cost of administering it more than the benefit.


March 2, 2014, 8:47 pm

These are trivial problems you're blowing out of proportion. How many mobile devices do you use anyway? An allocation of ten or so would be fine, with the ability to deactivate old devices. There's no limit on the number of tellies in your house, and there would be no limit on the number of machines running iPlayer through your home's gateway.


March 3, 2014, 7:25 pm

im defo of the opinion that if they want the tv licence to cover bbci player make an account and link it to your licence, or remove it completely, it's no wonder they need more money to cover all the radio, online and tv channels. it should not be used to cover the channels that are paid for by adverts though. 2.5 years without licence because it is a waste of money all i watched from bbc was qi when i remembered but had to have a licence to watch sky channels (went sky coz i was sick of the boosters and amplifier and trip to move the aerial to change channel watching terrestrial). well i never noticed going non live broadcasting mostly i watched kids sky chanels, browsed web and played games on my tv and use hasn't changed much since just swap sky chanels for rent dvd's. will be unbelievably peeved if i have to pay licence because i have a computer, ps3 and a mobile phone. just a thought but when the government subsidises them and i pay taxes..... nope thought gone.


March 5, 2014, 4:56 am

The BBC is not worth over £12 a month per house. Netflix is £6 a month and is producing some excellent exclusive content with their much lower income, there is also much better independent news on the web. The BBC rarely produces anything of note now. I pulled all my aerials out 6 moths ago and cut the licence. I changed my details on the TV licencing website to *licence not needed - Smart TV & Catch up. Got an email saying they'll inquire in 2 years. The change has started and is growing. Remember most people still think you need a licence if you have a TV, I think they should rename it to a Live Broadcast Licence.

Steve Evernden

March 7, 2014, 2:44 am

i agree with the subscription method of it pay for what you watch, i have a xbox and laptop i use more then normal tv and when i do watch tv (once or twice in a blue moon) it is ether E4, five or really as all the others have nothing on and the only time i watch the BBC channels is when doctor who is on whats on like on once a year and on xmas other then that i don't watch it. BBC should just make it easier and just put ads on they probably make a lot more out of it and i love to no were all the money goes as the tv licence brings it a whopping £3.6bn a year that a lot of money for the BBC i think so were is it all going and now they want you to pay for iplayer as well.

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