A White Paper review of the BBC’s activities in the UK has led John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to say that the way in which the licence fee currently operates for on-demand content should be overhauled.
Currently, to watch live TV shows via iPlayer requires an annual £145 TV licence but there’s no obligation for viewers to pay for a licence if they’re only watching on-demand content via the portal. Clearly, given the seeming impossibility to determine which users are only watching on-demand content, it’s a significant loophole, which is why Whittingdale says it needs closing.
The current licence fee system needs to be fairer, so we will close the iPlayer loophole, meaning those who watch BBC programs on-demand will now need a licence like everyone else.
However, Whittingdale also said that the government would like to see the BBC explore other revenue streams alongside the licence fee, which would be for additional services, rather than starting to charge for any that it currently offers,
He also said that making the licence fee ‘portable’ so that people who have paid can watch iPlayer content while abroad should also be on the agenda.
The news will anger many residents in the UK, who already feel that the current licencing setup is archaic and in need of reform. Twitter users were customarily understated in their response to the news.
The next steps involve putting forward a final version of the proposals, with a view to bringing the measures into effect from January next year.