Sep 012016
 

BBC iPlayer loophole closes as licence required for catchup TV

It remains unclear how BBC will enforce new rules, which are designed to help plug £150m gap in its finances

Anyone attempting to use iPlayer to catch up on their favourite show on Thursday will, for the first time, be presented with a message telling them they must have a TV licence even if they aren’t watching live.

Legislation passed this year making it illegal to watch BBC catchup content without a licence comes into force from 1 September. The move is designed to help the BBC plug a £150m gap in its finances caused by the increasing number of people who were opting out of the TV licence.

It is unclear how the BBC will enforce the new rules at scale. It is considering whether to make it mandatory to sign in to use iPlayer and other online services, but that move is aimed at improving its ability to personalise services and learn about user behaviour.

The information collected at the moment does not include address or licence fee number, which could be used to work out whether or not people are watching illegally.

A BBC source said: “There are no plans for people to enter their licence details into BBC iPlayer at present because TV Licensing has a range of enforcement techniques they’ll continue to use. We’ll look at how effective these are before considering whether an extra verification system is required.”

Previous reports that the BBC would begin snooping on Wi-Fi connections to check whether people are using iPlayer are understood to be wide of the mark. However, neither the BBC nor TV Licensing will reveal details of how they plan to detect lawbreakers.

A TV Licensing spokesman said: “We know the vast majority of people are law-abiding and would anticipate those who need a licence for the first time will buy one. We have a range of enforcement techniques which we use and these have already allowed us to prosecute people who watch on a range of devices, not just TVs.”

Monitoring Wi-Fi connections en masse would be expensive and potentially illegal. The BBC is entitled to use powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to carry out surveillance on people it suspects of using BBC services without a licence. However, this is more likely to take the form of surveilling homes to view or hear people watching BBC content.

source ; theguardian.com/media/2016/aug/31/bbc-iplayer-loophole-closes-as-licence-required-for-catchup-tv

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