Up to 1,000 households a day have stopped paying the BBC licence fee by claiming they only watch catch-up services or do not own a TV.
During a 15-month period to the end of last year 500,000 homes said they did not have a television, figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board show.
In theory viewers are only exempt if they use the digital service to watch catch-up television.
But the BBC Iplayer website also shows live television and – although it sometimes asks people to tick a box saying they have a TV licence before watching – experts claim viewers are exploiting the service
Although some houses may have still bought a licence to cover watching shows on a mobile device or tablet, others could have bypassed paying the £145.50-a-year fee in a move that could have lost the BBC up to £72.8million.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘We’ve repeatedly said that the licence fee should be modernised to include people watching catch up TV and we’ll discuss the best way of doing this as we approach the renewal of our Charter, ensuring the best value for money for our audiences.’
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: ‘Future decisions on the licence fee will be considered as part of the Charter Review process.’