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Watch BBC iPlayer? You’ll soon have to pay for a TV licence

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

The BBC iPlayer “loophole” which allows people to catch-up on shows just minutes after the live transmission is set to be closed “as soon as practicable”.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said today he’ll bring forward legislation to extend the current TV licensing regime to cover live BBC shows and those watched on catch-up through the iPlayer.

Currently the TV licence costs £145.50 per year and covers live streaming but it’s not necessary for viewers to have a licence if they watch BBC programmes through the iPlayer, even if it’s just a few minutes after the transmission.

The culture secretary said the BBC “works on the basis that all who watch it, pay for it” but it was wrong and never intended to give a “free ride” to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, day or week after broadcast.

Generation of consumers don’t expect to pay

At the Oxford Media Convention 2016, he said that this time ten years ago, catch-up was mainly done with a VHS tape recorder and Netflix was a DVD home delivery service.

“Today, consumers are no longer passive recipients, organising their lives around the Radio Times, but are now able to watch what they want, when they want and on a range of different devices from an smart phone screen to one which is 65” in Ultra HD.

“What is even more remarkable is that for the consumer, services like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, and Candy Crush are all free. Music, video, and electronic games can all be enjoyed for nothing – with the result that a generation of consumers is growing up who do not expect to pay.

“Yet all of these products and services – and thousands more – are the result of the creativity, hard work and financial investment of vast numbers of people. They have a right – and a need – to be rewarded.”

He added that unless they’re able to be paid or make a return, those industries “may not survive”.