A new UK TV Licence deal will close the “catch-up loophole” and BBC to take over the cost of over 75s “free Licence”
Responding to a question about the so-called “iPlayer loophole”, which allows viewers to watch TV programmes without a licence, the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said that Government had agreed that catch-up TV would in the future be treated the same way as viewing live TV in legislation. Full details about how this would be implemented remain to be seen.
It has been suggested that a digital licence could be introduced for those who only want to watch catch-up TV.
There was no implication that current licence fee holders would be forced to pay twice – it is thought they would simply be given a code letting them access the service.
A Government source described the iPlayer rule change as a ‘big win’ for the Corporation, adding: ‘This is not hammering the BBC. It is a deal … if you’re watching BBC content, you’re going to have to pay.
‘The licence fee as it is currently structured means the BBC does not have a long-term guaranteed revenue stream, because in ten years more and more people are going to be using catch-up services. They have been asking for this for a very long time.’
Following reports over the weekend, the BBC has agreed it will take the cost of free TV licences for the over 75s. But the broadcaster will only start bearing the costs for free TV licences from 2018-19, according the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.
Speaking in Parliament, the Culture Secretary said the change would be phased in, with the BBC paying the full cost by the 2020-21 financial year.
However, it was confirmed that BBC funding would rise in line with the CPI calculation of inflation, subject to the BBC meeting efficiency targets and the outcome of Charter Review. This would break the freeze on the licence fee that is still in place until 2016. The amount ring-fenced for broadband roll-out projects will be gradually reduced as the BBC takes over funding for licences for the over 75s.
Of course, the UK TV Licence is only applicable to UK households. It is basically a UK tax on TV reception equipment.
If you do not live in the UK you do not have to pay the UK TV Licence.
But how this will work for expats who use the BBC IPlayer service usually via a VPN service or access the catch up services using Android, XBMC / Kodi, Costa Blanca Smart Brit Boxes, or Mag250 boxes, remains to be seen.