Government may extend TV licence fee to cover BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer

The Government is considering plans to extend the TV licence fee to cover BBC iPlayer – and other catch-up TV services such as the forthcoming YouView.

Currently British viewers must pay £145.50 for a television licence if they watch or record programmes as they are broadcast, whether on a TV, computer, mobile phone or tablet.

However, viewing programmes after they have been broadcast on a catch-up service such as iPlayer does not require a licence, as you can read here.

With a rapidly growing number of internet-enabled TVs (IPTVs) and set-top boxes hitting the market, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering an overhaul of the licence fee to bring it into line with new technologies.

A spokesman says: "The Government is aware of developing technologies and the changing viewing habits of those who watch television programmes. How the BBC is funded as these issues evolve is a matter the department will need to address in the near future."

The BBC insists that no changes are needed, pointing to its own research showing that only 0.2% of households watch only catch-up television, with no live viewing, each week.

A BBC spokesman adds: "We believe the current system works very efficiently and do not see a need to change its scope at present."

What do you think? Should iPlayer remain outside the TV licence fee? Let us know in the Comments box below.

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.