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Many unaware of the September TV licence change

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

There’s just over a month to go before the BBC iPlayer “loophole” is closed meaning if you watch catch-up television, you’ll have to pay for a TV licence, however many are unaware of the looming changes.

In March it was announced that legislation would be brought forward to extend the current TV licensing regime to cover live BBC shows and those watched on catch-up through the iPlayer.

While no date was specified at the time, TV licencing has confirmed the changes come into effect from 1 September 2016.

Currently you’re only required to buy a TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast.

However, from 1 September 2016, if you download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch-up TV on BBC iPlayer whether through a games console, streaming box, smart TV, smartphone, laptop or tablet, you’ll need to have a TV licence.

You’ll also need a TV licence if you access iPlayer through another provider, such as Freeview, Freesat, YouView, Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Apple, Roku or Amazon.

TV licences cost £145.50 per year and if you’re caught, you could face a fine of £1,000 (£2,000 in Guernsey, £500 in Jersey).

However, you won’t need a TV licence if you download or watch the Welsh S4C TV on demand on BBC iPlayer or listen to radio via it.

Further, if you download or watch programmes on demand from other providers, such as ITV Hub, All 4 or Demand 5, you won’t need a licence.

Brits in the dark over changes

Research by broadband and TV comparison site Broadband Genie found that more than 80% of 1,000 people surveyed are unaware of the changes, potentially putting them at risk of a fine.

Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at Broadband Genie, said: “It’s surprising how little has been said regarding the changes being made to the TV Licence considering we’re only a few weeks away from the new rules coming into effect. We could end up with a situation where many Brits are unknowingly breaking the law come September 1st, simply because they’re unaware of the changes.

“In the coming weeks we need a strong campaign by TV Licensing promoting the changes to both non and current licence fee holders.”

“It’s hard to say whether these changes will have any impact as the methods TV Licencing are using to enforce them aren’t particularly robust. If they seriously want consumers to pay for the iPlayer then they’re going to have to consider some sort of authentication method.”