BBC to Parliament - Get the iPlayer freeloaders!

by | Apr. 2, 2009

For background, the BBC in the U.K. gets the vast majority of its revenues from a mandatory £142 television license that citizens must pay annually. If you own a TV, you pay the license fee.

Apparently, however, the BBC Trust is very concerned that a large number of people who only watch BBC programming online (via the iPlayer) may be exempt from paying this fee. They want to close the loophole that allows this.

As I departed London yesterday, I picked up a copy of The Times and read an article about this situation.

Current rules mean that people who only watch online repeats via the BBC iPlayer are not liable for the levy — amid signs that some people are already taking advantage to watch BBC programs for free.

Around 40% of students living in halls of residence now use a laptop as their main way to watch television, according to a review of licence fee collection published today by the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s regulator.

That review concluded that “legislative change is likely to be required in order to reflect technology changes” as the BBC formally recognized for the first time that there is a threat to the license fee system, which raises £3.5 billion a year for the public broadcaster.

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