You're on the wrong side, Reg
I'm surprised at the Register's reporting on this whole issue, which appears to be siding with the ridiculous comments of Tiscali and the like.
Yes, the ISP business is in dissarray and that's partly as a result of the Iplayer, but it's mostly as a result of their business being structured around lies and half truths. If they can't provide the capacity their users demand, and would appear to be paying for, then they need to be honest about that. Tell customers the truth about the service they're being charged for, and introduce a new scale of charges that actually reflects the way their business works. If that's really so impossible, then put pressure on the regulator (Ofcom) to force a system where the smaller ISPs can compete fairly with the infrastructure owners like BT.
But to direct this bile at the BBC? Actually make a straight-faced argument for them to pay? Utterly ludicrous. It's an impossible argument that flies in the face of every technical (or ethical) principle underlying the internet. The BBC is a content provider putting stuff on the web - no different to the Register, or Google, or Youtube, or any of the other video-on-demand players like Channel 4 or ITV - there is simply no good reason why they should be singled out for some kind of backwards levy on the "broadcast" of content they're not forcing on anybody. The Iplayer is not broadcasting, it's providing content on request to users, using bandwidth that's supposedly been paid for already by the same. If those users are exceeding some limit then just block the connection. That's the ISP's right - under the terms of whatever contract they have with their subscribers. Honest implementation (and charging) of those contracts would avoid this entire problem.
The license fee is a complete red herring in this. When you compare ITV's VOD content with the Iplayer, does it become any more lighter or less bandwidth intensive because it's funded by ads rather than the public? Does Tiscali get some extra wedge from ITV's advertisers to carry their material? Of course not. The only real difference is that the BBC content is more popular, and that publicly funded bodies are always seen as soft targets when they apparently conflict with the interests of poor, defenceless private companies like Tiscali.
The funny thing is, I don't remember any of these ISPs complaining all the time that the BBC were using public funds to drive internet and broadband takeup through advertising and educational campaigns, and establishing various internet "killer apps" like the BBC News website, much to the benefit of private companies like Tiscali. These things never work the other way though, do they?
I look forward to the Register's positive reporting on Tiscali's tax demand to Google - surely carrying that website must be costing the poor ISPs a bob or two as well?