BBC iPlayer TV Licensing loophole Allowing ‘Free Ride’ To Be Closed


If you watch programs that are not live then you can opt out of paying for the BBC TV licence.

The loophole allowed people watching shows on BBC iPlayer, that had already been aired on TV or live on an online TV service, avoid paying the licence fee.

The Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said on Wednesday that the opt out option will soon be closed and a TV license would be required for watching television through catch-up services.

The Daily Express reports:

The £145.50 a year charge for funding the BBC can be difficult to pull together for many cash-strapped families.

As a result more households have been choosing to watch their favourite shows only through iPlayer and other streaming services on internet TVs and laptops, which don’t require a licence

But this is about to change.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention Mr Whittingdale said: “I will be bringing forward, as soon as practicable, secondary legislation which will extend the current TV licensing regime not only to cover those watching the BBC live, but also those watching the BBC on catch-up through the iPlayer.”

He added: “When the licence fee was invented, video on demand did not exist.

“And while the definition of television in the legislation covers live streaming, it does not require viewers to have a licence if they watch BBC programmes through the iPlayer even if it is just a few minutes after transmission.

“The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it.

“Giving a free ride to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, a day or a week after they are broadcast was never intended and is wrong.”

Mr Whittingdale said there would have to be an order drafted and agreed by Parliament on the licensing change which could be as soon as this session.

The most popular programmes from the main broadcasters, as well as entire series of hit shows, are currently available on catch-up and usually available for at least seven days after they been live broadcast.

Watching catch-up TV only has become a popular option among students looking to cut down living costs.

Some critics have branded the decision to close the loophole as a “tax on the young”.

Charlotte Burns, editor of Student Money Saver, said: “Many students simply can not afford the £145.50 TV licence, so watching catch-up tv shows on iPlayer, has been has bee n the only way they can watch their favourite BBC shows, legally.

“Older people (over 74), the blind and those in residential care (retired and over 60 or disabled) get a free or reduced TV licence fare.

“Students on the other hand, are no eligible for any reduction. “

However, students who only live in a residence for part of the year, because they return to their parental home during the summer months, can claim a refund that usually amounts to around £36.

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