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back to article Beeb tech boss seeks to expand TV licence online

The BBC's technology chief has called for the licence fee to be extended so that people who only watch iPlayer will also have to pay. Erik Huggers made the call as he discussed recent comments by the BBC Trust, the national broadcaster's oversight body, that the internet means TV licensing law will need to be changed. "My view …

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Unhappy

They should consider

.. a licensing scheme for foreigners to watch iPlayer.

I have many friends who like to watch the BBC but can't as they're not UK citizens. All have stated they'd be happy to pay for access, but no scheme exists.

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I am sure he does....

Let's see how he likes it if i charge him every time i have to watch an advert for a BBC show? I think it's advertising and therefore not allowed on BBC1 or Two.

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Stupid Comment

What a stupid comment from someone who obviously doesn't understand the technology.

What's the difference between watching programs on iPlayer and a TV set? None. So, logically the same licence fee should apply. However, trying to collect it from everyone using iPlayer is just impossible. The complexity is amazing. His logic actually calls for the licence fee to be dropped not expanded.

About time the licence fee was given up and a funding mechanism for the 21st century introduced.

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Anonymous Coward

Could get overseas subscribers too

If they are worried about overseas viewers getting content and using bandwidth they haven't paid for then why not just charge them a subscription or a one-off payment for pay-per-view

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How will we prove we don't use iPlayer?

Many will doubtless make this point, but by having a computer with a web connection, we surely imply that we could use iPlayer, whether we wish to or not. I actually got rid of my TV when the last one packed in, and didn't replace it because there was never anything on it to watch, anyway. I never use iPlayer, because I assume that the BBC, minus my contribution to its funds, is no healthier than when last I looked at what it had to offer. This means I don't have a TV or a TV license, but by this logic, I could be forced to pay a license fee because of something I could do, because I have a computer. I didn't ask the BBC to put their content online. Why don't they just make it a damn subscription service, if they think it's worth so damn much?

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Um...

...Ok, I'll just go back to torrenting the ~3 pieces of BBC output worth watching then. Greedy twats.

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Joke

Dear Points of View

I tuned into this article expecting a tirade of comments about 'why should we have to pay for a TV licence in 2009' and what do I see? Nothing. Raaabbish people.

I suspect this is bbc censorship gone mad. And, not only that I can't see any 'The Apprentice' updates - and the page is covered in ADVERTS! Sacre Bleu!

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So...

using that logic, if don't use the iPlayer and I don't watch any BBC channels I don't have to pay?

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nbc

Personal opinion? My a**e!

This is more accurately called "testing the water". If there's not sufficient outcry then the Beeb will implement it.

Have broadband, pay BBC.

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Ash
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That's fine

In which case, he can pay my fucking ISP for the bandwidth iPlayer uses.

Dick.

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BBC Tax

So Huggers doesn't believe in a free ride, consume BBC services and pay the licence. Surely then, if you don't consume BBC services Huggers must believe you don't need to pay the BBC fee. I really cannot see Huggers standing by that point of view. I rather think he would prefer every person in the country paying the BBC tax, reguardless of wether they used a TV or not.

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Boffin

@ nbc

Finally, someone that's grasped it.

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Bronze badge

but seriously...

...hands up who hasnt been expecting this?

Is slightly annoying tho, as i have been planning on keeping my analouge tv set (games, dvds etc), and ditching the freeview box when the digital switchover happens, and just watch what i want at my convienience using on demand/catch up services online.

But there is less and less worth watching on the Beeb theese days, so maybe they are doing me a favour.

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@How will we prove we don't use iPlayer?

Daniel,

Owning a TV in the UK does not require you to own a TV license (as much as the TV licensing people hate to admit it), you only need a license to watch broadcast TV. If you TV is only plugged into a DVD player and a nintendo wii, then no license is required. (and no, you don't need to make your TV unable to receive or anything like that, just don't have it plugged into an aerial, and it would probably be wise to de-tune the channels if you can). and yes, I do know someone who did this for years. the TV was only plugged into a DVD player and 3 consoles. every year the TV licensing people would tell them they needed a license, and every year he'd tell them that he didn't need one.

this should then work the same way with computers. if you don't use them to watch iplayer, you shouldn't need a license.

of course all this talk of not getting a free ride seems to forget about those folk who only listen to the radio. don't they get a free ride?

dave

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Login to use?

@ Daniel "How will we prove we don't use iPlayer? "

Simple - enter your licence fee number when you register - once you register you can then access from anywhere in the world by logging on, there is no point making it more complicated than it needs to be. could even sell access outside of the UK but that would cause rights issues to non UK residents. (Sky player do something like this against your account - not subscribed at home - no access online)

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opt out...

I pay my licence... I have a TV and the amount opf BBC that I consume is minimal... the programming is so dire now that with the exception of the odd occasional show they havwe nothing to offer me... Discovery HD and my paid for sky channels suffice...

I have also NEVER watched anything on iplayer... scaling anything streamed upto 50" is dire as is the heavily compressed sound...

so any ideas by the bbc to tax either bandwith or up my licence for second rate web streaming is a big no!!

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Joe
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Obvious answer?

Firstly, I don't have a TV licence but I do watch programmes on iPlayer. Nice and legal, but is it right? I don't watch a lot - Have I Got News For You, Screenwipe, the occasional history documentary - but is it right that I get that for free? Not really.

A blanket broadband license would be wrong, though. I think the obvious solution is to include a username/password with the TV licence which will enable licence holders to watch iPlayer. And perhaps a pay-per-view option for those of us who don't watch much or who live abroad.

Does that sound sensible or am I missing something?

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iplayer for linux?

I've no idea if the iplayer is available for Linux as I've never attempted to use it, but I do remember some controversy about availability when it was released. If it still isn't available does that mean those using Linux would be exempt? Alternatively, how about a custom Linux build that makes the iplayer unavailable?

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Time to change

I Agree!! I never watch the BBC and would happily lose the channels for a saving of £12 a month. The Law needs updating for sure, but not in the way this guy says.. the license needs scrapping or sharing with other television providers.. what makes the BBC so great!!

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Stop

What a con

"At present, a £139.50 annual TV licence is only required to view programmes as they are broadcast. " When discussing in the context of the BBC this statement is not true. All UK residents are forced to pay the annual tv licence to be able to receive ANY terrestrial analogue or digital service regardless of whether they tune their TV for and watch the BBC's channels.

Given the extra revenue that this law allows the BBC to rake in from people who do not make use of the BBC services but still have to pay the BBC for a television licence, I think it's just more greed to imply that the statistically small amount of people who watch BBC iPlayer and who don't already own a licence should have to pay for the small amount of viewing that they do over the net. Especially when you put into context that most of the UK's ISPs have not significantly large monthly download allowances, thus restricting the viewing to the occasional catch-up that would hardly be worth the near £140.

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Good idea

Restricting iPlayer would be easy, those with a TV licence can sign up for an online account, just like Sky Player or 4OD.

Those without a TV licence could subscribe for a monthly fee.

Simple.

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Everyone who own a tele...

Has to play a licence, regardless of how much / little BBC content they watch.

Extrapolated, everyone who can access the internet has to pay a licence.

Yeah, right.

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Jon

Their content

As long as it is opt in I think that people should pay iplayer. I pay a tv license to fund it I don't want otheres to get it for free.

However when I was a student I didn't watch TV but still was treated as a criminal as the previous ocupier of my room had a license, if they start claiming an internet connection as "TV recieving capable" then thsi crosses the line and is unfair as why should people pay for somthing they are not using.

So basically if you watch BBC content then pay for it, not if you don't.

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Alien

@ac1 and ac2

I think the real problem there is the beeb don't have the rights to show much of their content abroad. As I understand it even the stuff with a BBC logo isn't wholly owned by them these days, which was one of the reasons they ended up scrubbing their idea of a huge archive of old TV.

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Why not...

Why not just add a unique key to each TV licence (if it doesn't already have one). Set up an account on the beeb's site, enter your TV licence number, and viola, you've got access to BBC programs from anywhere in the world (carrot as well as stick please). If more than a certain number of accounts register with the same licence (20? 30? You're only really trying to stop massive distribution so it can be fairly high), ask the customer to give you a call to sort it out.

Doesn't seem like too much hassle, and to its credit iPlayer is massively better than the competing services like 4oD.

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Col
Paris Hilton

Er...

"using that logic, if don't use the iPlayer and I don't watch any BBC channels I don't have to pay?"

Yeah.

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New invention: The Interweb!

I wonder if some of the people posting comments have heard of this thing called the Interweb. It's client/server so you can track who's using it (as opposed to broadcast where you can't, at least not easily).

This could lead to a fairer system for everyone, as you might only have to pay for what you watch. And, as others have pointed out, could open it up to international markets. The current system requires you to pay if you have a TV, even if you don't watch any broadcast channels subsidised by the license fee. You wouldn't have to charge people just because they had a broadband connection.

Of course you can be cynical and say they'll screw us for everything they can... but they haven't even suggested anything yet, why not give them a chance?

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IT Angle

Quality Assurance

But are they willing to negotiate with ISP to ensure a basic quality of service of the product is guaranteed, after all if I'm going to pay to 'consume their services' I want to do so without choppy playback and 'fair usage' policies.

IT? cos its questionable whether they know what they are talking about

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Funding

The BBC is a wonderful thing, but why do they add great swathes of value, but only think to ask for the money to pay for it later?

the Licence fee used to pay for 2 TV channels, and 4 Radio.

Now they've added 6 TV channels (not including enhanced content) the 2nd greatest website in the world, iplayer (worthy of a separate mention) about about 9 extra radio stations, as well as High Definition versions of loads of their content.

Who asked them to do this?

i wrote a massive blog post on this ages ago - cruise on over if you want a read...

http://evergrowingbrain.blogspot.com/2008/09/save-bbc.html

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g e
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NO

nuff said

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Anonymous Coward

and my attitude

is that If I'm paying you for these shows, with my license fee, why cant I download them, store them, and watch them at my convenience? why should I have to pay for them on DVD?

or am i being far to simple?

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I'm clearly naive then..

I must be very naive then - as I thought that as it stood at the moment you ought to have a TV license to watch iPlayer.

Does anyone really think it wouldn't be possible for the BBC to ask ISPs to ask which accounts are using iPlayer as part of their bandwirth... that might be even more naive..

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Anonymous Coward

I agree with the beeb

Their content is ad free and it's creation and broadcasting does not come without associated costs so it shouldn't be for freetards.

Now, if only they would come up with a scheme for those of us who travel a lot to use iPlayer (other than going in by VPN and risking pissing off our IT dept).

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Anonymous Coward

He discredits himself

"If you are consuming BBC services then you have to be a licence holder..."

Right then, so if I do not own a television and tune into a few BBC radio services I have to fork out for a TV licence? Of course not. Thank you for immediately making clear how informed you are and how much attention we should pay to you. Now go away and consider your position since you clearly do not have a grasp of the issues.

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Dead Vulture

@Daniel: How will we prove we don't use iPlayer?

"Why don't they just make it a damn subscription service, if they think it's worth so damn much?"

Because no one would pay it, or not many. So imagine you don't need a TV licence, but to watch the beeb you just pay by subscription. Then if you just don't watch the beeb, as people say they don't now, then they would go under.

Also, any scheme that uses the Interweb is going to fail. You can't download any content from the beeb without DRM, so I don't bother. Why would I use the iPlayer when I can't save the content? Instead I get it from YouTube, or via a freesat box, where I can put it on a USB stick (and post it to YouTube if I want -- see a pattern here?).

If they are going to track your use via an ISP, then a system such as Tor (www.torproject.org) is sufficient to hide who you are. Then the IP address the beeb get is not the one the ISP gives you. So how will they catch you?

The answer, and we know it's coming, is to tax everyone, so the current BBC-tax will not change. Only if there is *significant* opposition, I mean people being really p*sssed off with the idea, will they be forced to change. It's an issue looming large, and by the time of the next charter negotiations will have become very problematic for the government.

They can't afford to let the BBC go to the wall, it is just too big. And they can't afford to change the funding model, that would be too disruptive. So they will simply move the goalposts.

If the British sheeple let this happen, then they will get all they deserve.

Why a tombstone? Because people's choice is going down the pan.

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Sugar

Am I supposed to PAY to watch Mr Sugar's awful apprentice and all that other boring crap?

Jeez they should pay me for dulling my day.

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Linux

Re: iPlayer for Linux

Well, I just fired up iPlayer in Firefox (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and then picked a program) on Ubuntu 9.04UNR (Acer Aspire One) and yes it works fine. Okay I got some message about downloading Adobe Air, but apart from that it was fine - even using a T-Mobile 3G stick in a poor signal area.

And of course, there's always iplayer-dl if you want to download to your desktop (Ubuntu 8.04 64bit in my case) and then play with MPlayer/VLC/etc. Not Gnome Media Player, because it seems to work badly on my system at least.

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Stop

Wonderful

I'd be delighted to see the TV license linked to usage of BBC services - it would save me £139.50 per year. I have a TV, I watch a dozen or so channels regularly - none of which is provided by the BBC, so WTF do I have to pay them? Sky manage to link payment to services perfectly well, it's about time the BBC got dragged kicking and screaming out of the dark ages where they were the only TV provider around. Copy Sky's system: conditional access so your services only go to those who pay, whether it's on a TV set or a laptop. Hardly rocket science.

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Anonymous Coward

No better purse than an endless public one.....

This is the usual and tiresome cant from a public utility who have allowed public service to degenerate into a self-righteous virtual monopoly - as far as choice goes anyway. I can get 500 channels on my free to view satellite system - but because that includes 4 BBC channels, I have to pay more for them than the other 496. Way to go - what a business model! Tescos and other big businesses must be beside themselves with envy. Charge in advance for what you decide to provide - and no consumer choice. Outstanding!

It's like the old joke about a husband who punches his neighbour for making love to his wife. The neighbour denies doing any such thing. Perhaps not - admits the angry husband - but she was there if you wanted to. And so with the BBC - it's there if you want it and you must pay - whether you use it or asked for it is irrelevant.

Why in the first decade of a 21st century alive with new developments in communication, should we have to continue to accept Victorian restrictive practices such as those enjoyed by the BBC? Put them on a commercial footing and let the buggers pay their way like any other business.

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Just to counter all the other opinions

I like what the BBC produces and hope that the licence fee system continues forever. I don't want to put up with the dross and advertising of other channels, thank you. I can appreciate that some people don't like what the BBC produces, but being a publicly funded corporation not answering to shareholders, at least they can push the barrel and try to please everyone, rather than only broadcasting what is guaranteed to make a profit.

Long live the BBC. And stuff your advertising up your arse :-)

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Stop

Login then!

They should use a login system then which is tied to the license. Simple. Bloody fools.

Can I please have a discount on my license because I couldn't give a stuff about iPlayer or the BBC's other online offerings? (thought not)

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Or........

Users can pay for online services via their ISP. If we have a seperate online services charge (that way internet only users do not pay for TV broadcasting costs and those without broadband do not pay for the costs of online services) that is collected vis ISPs then we would have a fairer system that (at least for iPlayer) would be imposibble to evade as it forms part of your subscription fee.

Of course Crapita would not like that one bit, les work for their jackbooted TVLA

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No title

What I expect will happen is that the licence fee laws will be changed so that a levy will be made on ISPs bills for broadband connections.

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Tom
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....and so it begins.

The BBC reignite their advancement towards a digital license, and use the pathetic iplayer as an excuse to start with.

Where and when will the tiresome greed of bleeding the British public dry for a poor service. Instead of everyone paying for a license, in order to own a machine to watch DVDs, play computer games, or even monitor home/communal cctv. I think it would be much better for the BBC and other networks to go the way SKY have done, and that is for people to pay for a subscription to watch the service.

No subcription = No service. However, you can still purchase the machine in order to watch your DVDs, family videos, and let the kids play on their games consoles.

However, I dare say that Eric Huggers and his cronies are frightened to follow such a route, as they truth will out that no one believes the BBC is a worthy service subscribing too.

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Dan
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Boffin

@nbc

I think the BBC is pushing for what is already being done in France and will be introduced in Spain soon, which is that ISPs 'donate' 3% of their profits to public television (or in France's case Sarkozy's mate as TF1 is privatised).

Spain came up with the exact same 3% figure as in France, must be someone in government discovered how to use copy and paste.

In France and Spain the excuse is the advertising downturn, but the BBC can't use that excuse.

France's ISPs are taking it to the European court and Spain's ISPs are threatening to add another line to each customer's bill with their proportion of the charge if the government goes through with it.

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twats

the reason we pay licence fee for having a tv is because they can't prove we're not receiving it (guilty with no chance of being able to prove innocence) - they even went as far as stripping out the subscription part of freeview when they picked it up so when the digital switchover comes they can still use the same lies instead of only giving access to those who've paid.

Not doing so on the internet though when it's /very/ easy to do so should be more of an outcry - they want to ensure it's paid for they should put access restrictions on it. I run several websites, does that mean I can blanket charge everyone with an internet connection for access to my sites?

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NO! MR STUPID!

People like Erik Huggers and his ilk should be put in mailbags with bricks and dumped in deep water. It is hard to believe that they believe the tripe that escapes from their gobs when they manage to open them. In fact they don't... They just spout shit because it is an opportunity for them to make money and/or keep themselves in a job..... "a former Microsoft executive". Oh so he's fairly shit at that as well....

'Oh, hello Mr Huggers welcome to the 'real' world. Let's see now... erm, yes, yes, yes yes. Well it looks like you are qualified to be unemployed.

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Unhappy

Unlicensing

"If you are consuming BBC services then you have to be a licence holder"

No, that's not how it should be!

Fine, pay for what you use or subscribe to a certain level of use but not a mandatory flat fee for every citizen who happens to be capable of seeing a BBC programme.

Replace 'BBC Services' in that statement with almost anything else to see how ridiculous and unfair this method of revenue gathering is:

"If you are consuming utility services then you have to be a licence holder" - no, I'll pay for the gas and 'leccy I use thanks.

"If you are consuming newspapers then you have to be a licence holder" no, I'll pay for the papers I actually read, not a flat fee just because I am able to read.

You get the idea...

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Hate to say it

...but I told you so. iPlayer was and is a trojan to get this pushed through. There was simply no other rational reason for the Beeb to spend as much as they have getting their programmes onto the 'net, a medium where every byte per second is a part of a finite resource.

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DT
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It's called "commerce" are you unfamiliar with the purchase of goods and services?

The transfer to digital was a missed opportunity. All digiboxes should have a CAM slot in them, many do. Beeb broadcasts should be subscription based and encrypted, like an extra Sky package.

That would give everyone the freedom of being able to watch TV without having to buy a license. As for it being difficult to implement iplayer control? Hell no, you already have a license number and they've got your address, a simple process of device registration just like with itunes.

As for paying for what you watch? I wait with baited breath, for an influx of pirate bay freetards with their nonsensical ethos of "free" digital content for all, despite the fact everyone else pays for it. It's equally greedy to want something for nothing.

If it's a public service, would you rip the piss out of the NHS, or the dole system? If it's a business you'd expect to pay for it. Criticise them for their content, fair enough, but you've an apprentice level of accumen if you think that allowing your product to be consumed for free is any way to run a business.

It's not the job of the license payer to subsidise programs for torrent kiddies who are cheap or broke, or high on some deluded quasi-communistic trip re: shit they think they can get away with stealing - yet they display rather less social responsibility to legitimate consumers.

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