back to article BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

The UK's Minister for Fun will rush through legislation to allow the BBC to impose a compulsory subscription on people using iPlayer to watch catchup TV. The BBC wants to plug a “loophole” that allows households that do not watch live transmissions, and do not need a TV licence, to watch BBC content. The licence costs £145.50 …

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"should not be onerous for a corporation that helped invent" lots of things

Was that before or after they outsourced everything romotely related to IT?

Can't have it both ways you know.

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Jim'll fix it and you

Since the BBC was not permitted to advertise, Whittingdale explained, it was only fair to allow it to impose a fee on everyone and still send me threats by mail?

I don't use their shite. They can keep their perverted hands off my money.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Well if you dont have a tv and dont uae iplayer then you wont pay.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Having a TV does NOT mean I have to pay the BBC a fucking penny!!!

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Big Brother

The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

The BBC (and the "IP" lobby in general) seem to be promoting a rather communist agenda.

Demanding that "all work must be rewarded" arrogantly presumes that it's always worthy of reward, or perhaps even more arrogantly dictates that even unworthy work must be rewarded regardless.

Surely that's not how capitalism is supposed to work.

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Re: The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

Amen brother!

What if someone thinks the content is worth it and pay for it and I don't consider it's worth it? Why would I have to pay if I do not want the goods?

Oh you have to because "reasons", go screw yourself with your content, I do not want it! the BBC has been blocked at home in my Firewall and local DNS cache for 14 years! I do not watch any TV whatsoever, my TVs are computer monitors with no aerials of any kind nor TV cards.

The supermarket next door doesn't force me to buy a DVD I have absolutely no interest on.

Why should they be exempted from market competition and be granted a monopoly on the UK interwebs???

WHY!?

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

"Having a TV does NOT mean I have to pay the BBC a fucking penny!!!"

It doesn't matter how many exclamation marks you use, I think you'll find the law disagrees with you.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

I got out of it at university by cutting the plug off the power cable. Nobody was going to argue that I stripped an inch of cable every time I watched TV so I was able to get it classified as a non-working TV.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

@Grease Monkey, the law agrees with him entirely.

The law is that you must have a license if you have a device that can receive live broadcast television, and is set up to do so. So, if you don't have an aerial plugged in and/or the TV isn't tuned then your TV is not set up to do so.

I have a TV. I don't have an aerial. I don't need a license. TVL agrees with me on this.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

No it doesn't. According to gov.uk: "You must have a TV Licence if you watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast."

So, you can legally have as many TVs as you like, so long as you never watch live broadcast TV. In practical terms, this means not connecting the TV to an aerial.

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@ Greasemonkey Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Actually, i think you'll find it does!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Actually, i think you'll find it does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

@ John Sanders...

What the fuck are you ranting about?

If you have no TV and don't want iPlayer, you don't have to pay. End Of.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Wrong.

You only, currently need a licence to watch live broadcasts.

The act of owning a TV does not, in the eyes of the law, mean that you have to have a TV Licence.

A TV with no means of receiving live transmissions does not require a licence.

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Re: The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

Calm down, dear. If you don't feel their output is worthy enough to watch then simply don't watch and no fee is due. Having a bad day?

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

I think you'll find, as a former TV lIcense campaigner, you are wrong.

You need a license to view / record live broadcasts (from anyone, not just the BBC). If you are just using a TV with a DVD player, or othersuch non-receiving apparatus, then you're fine.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

@Grease Monkey.

I think you'll find you're wrong. All you need to do is register that you're not going to connect it to an aerial and you can own a TV and not pay the license fee. They normally come round to do a check, but they're fine about it. You just show them the setup when they knock the door :-)

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

>Having a TV does NOT mean I have to pay the BBC a fucking penny!!!

You might be differently correct about that, you know, unless it is not connected to an antenna and not switched on.

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Trollface

Re: Jim'll fix it and you

If you use it to watch any broadcast TV then yes you have to pay and they will hunt you down and apply GoT type punishments (it is said, somewhere), woe, woe and thrice woe to you

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Alert

Re: The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

"the BBC has been blocked at home in my Firewall and local DNS cache for 14 years!"

Oh that fateful day when you turned on the computer, opened your web browser, and typed www.bbc.co.uk followed by enter by accident. Never again!

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Not allowed to advertise? The BBC is advertising all the time - totally irrelevant trails in the middle of specialist music programmes, other trails with gratuitous background music in between programmes, ads for "digital radio" (the initials DAB are too toxic to use), ads for the licence fees ... the list goes on.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Turning the question round, if there is going to be a licence fee, why should the BBC get it all?

Everyone who watches broadcast TV has to pay it regardless of whether they watch much, or even any, of the BBC's output. Even if someone spends all their time watching Xtreme Filth or the God Channel, then they still have to subsidize the BBC.

It probably seemed sensible in 1955 when they operated one of just two British TV channels, but now they are responsible for less than 2% of the total number of channels.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

Or in the old days not connecting a vcr (to an aerial) either. My dad's friend got done when he foolishly admitted he recorded tv programmes when they were transmitted and watched them the next day when he finished his night shift on a computer monitor with an composite video in (no tv/tuner). So it was the VCR that was capable of receiving a live tv broadcast.

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Re: The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

Meanwhile of course, "lack of work" is rewarded in the commercial media world. We all pay towards commercial TV through the "advertising premium" which we pay on all our goods and services but if we then do not pay the exorbitant subscriptions (BSkyB profits last year over £1bn!!!) then we are paying towards TV services that (unlike the BBC which is "free to air") we cannot even receive. I get very fed up about those who scream about the "injustice" of the "tele-tax" but fail to recognise the even greater injustice of having (short of shoplifting how do you avoid it?) to pay toards something that you cannot even partake in ............

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Re: The "all work must be rewarded" mentality

Have you never thought that you are paying towards all the commercial channels every time you shop? The supermarket next door IS forcing you to pay for them (even though, apparently, you can't even get them). You don't have to pay a TV licence if you do not have a TV, but every household in Britain is paying towards commercial TV, whether they have aTV or not, and whether they can receive the service or not. now THAT IS injustice .............

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

BUt you are still paying towards commercial TV - whether you receive any or not - every time you go shopping .........

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Law

Re: Jim'll fix it and you

"It doesn't matter how many exclamation marks you use, I think you'll find the law disagrees with you."

Actually - we've got 2 TVs in the house and don't pay the BBC a penny. We realised we'd not used live TV for so long and BBC much longer, so we just rang and cancelled the license.

They were very nice about it, and it was all quick and painless. We just explained we used Amazon Prime and Netflix for our content, and haven't installed BBC iPlayer on either FireTV box or the smart telly, and no aerials are connected - so didn't need a license - they agreed. We actually do have a Virgin Media subscription for TV, but it was just added to reduce the cost of the broadband, and the box is at the bottom of a dusty cupboard somewhere for when they want it back.

Having experienced a BBC shakedown as a student, with constant threatening letters and visits trying to catch us out, I was half expecting to be heckled constantly about it via knocks at the door or letters, but so far all we've had is an email saying the license was expired and we could renew whenever we want.

Hopefully they won't tweak the new rules to include any and all streaming last minute - so providing we don't use any of the catch up channels we're good. Not quite sure how they'll enforce this though, without laws allowing them to get logs from your ISP or allowing them access to your tablets / smart TVs and other computers around the house how would they prove you stream from the BBC?? As the article says, it'd just be easier to go pay-per-view or subscription model for people - having a 8.99 subscription to Netflix for 2 device streaming has been perfect for us, I'm sure people who would want CBeebies, Doctor Who and the like would pay the fee.

Does the license affect radio station funding? Again, we don't use their stations... but they could go amazon prime style and include music streaming to devices too.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

"Everyone who watches broadcast TV has to pay it regardless of whether they watch much, or even any, of the BBC's output."

"It probably seemed sensible in 1955 when they operated one of just two British TV channels, but now they are responsible for less than 2% of the total number of channels."

Just like I don't have kids, but I still have to subsidise child benefit, education, etc.

The BBC may be a tiny percentage of the total number of channels, but the total number of channels cost about £100 per month. The BBC makes up a larger percentage of the free channels, and plays an even bigger role in radio broadcasting.

It also plays a very prominent role in educational programming. So if you think it is right to pay taxes for schools, etc. for the good of the future of the country, then there are very good reasons why you should be contributing to the BBC, whether you watch any of the programmes or not.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

"It also plays a very prominent role in educational programming. So if you think it is right to pay taxes for schools, etc. for the good of the future of the country, then there are very good reasons why you should be contributing to the BBC, whether you watch any of the programmes or not."

If you have no children, and your friends and relatives have no children that watch educational programmes or CBBC or CBeebies, or you have no relatives or friends, young or old, that watch BBC programmes, or listen to BBC Radio, and if you truly live in such a bubble that you are connected to absolutely nobody who benefits from the programming that the BBC provides (and of course you do not listen to any BBC Radio yourself, or watch any BBC output whatsoever, even if it is a repeat broadcast on a different channel) then yes you should have your £12 a month back.

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Re: Jim'll fix it and you

However, if you own a TV, there is a significant likelihood that a court would judge that you were watching it. Unplugging the aerial is not likely to be convincing. The problem is that a TV has limited utility outside of watching live broadcast.

The situation with tablets and computers is different. These are also entirely capable of displaying TV as it is broadcast (via iplayer). However, they have a substantial use which is not infringing. An attempt to prosecute someone on the basis that they had a phone or tablet and therefore must have been watching iplayer would be doomed to failure

The law is not a computational specification. There is a degree of reasonable interpretation involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Well played BBC, I moved house about a year and a half ago and lo and behold a tv license person knocks on door with a form, the options were, I watch live tv, I watch catch-up tv and I don't watch tv If I remember correctly. What this means is that everyone that said I watch catch-up tv to get out of paying have now helpfully told the BBC that they will require a license.

I begrudgingly pay for a TV license because there are things the BBC produce that I enjoy but if they carry on the way they are going I will cancel it.

This also highlights an interesting question, previously it was the ability to receive TV that meant you had to have a license (TV and aerial) so does this mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it?

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We don't have a licence, as we don't have or want live TV in the house. This makes us more selective in what we watch, and prevents us leaving the telly on blaring background noise, dumbing down the kids.

However, I've always been aware the iplayer is a loophole. For the cost of it (a fraction of what the likes of Sky charge), you get an enormous amount. Not only that but the commercial channels STILL shovel adverts down your neck, even after you've directly paid them. I don't know why people put up with that.

So, we'll pay. No issues.

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I wonder how it will pan out if you only watch netflix which if any BBC content is there has already been paid for?

This is basically a tax on anybody who can receive Iplayer content. I am quite happy to ditch BBC altogether, only shows I watched were Dr Who & Top Gear, both of which I can happily live without, Will I be given a chance ??? I doubt it very much !

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"This also highlights an interesting question, previously it was the ability to receive TV that meant you had to have a license (TV and aerial) so does this mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it?"

That's what it sounds like to me. Worse, it might not just be a computer, but any household in which one person has a smart phone.

Dear Beeb: Just switch over to a subscription model and be done with it FFS.

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I'm amazed that the BBC/Government has not already proposed an internet connection license... oops the cat is out of the bag!

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I don't begrudge, I have a choice. I do enjoy BBC programmes on catch up but don't have a telly at home. It's been a pleasant loophole that has meant I've had great stuff for free, but I see viewing catch up programming as a choice rather than a right. And knowing just how much it costs to make TV, I don't mind paying rather than freeloading.

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so does this mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it?

Lord alone knows, but you can be sure that the detail will be an ill considered botch with unintended consequences, simply because it will be secondary legislation, meaning that it won't be subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this just became an internet poll tax collected through ISPs. Initially they might require the ISPs to root through your viewing to find BBC sites, but then it becomes an opportunity to differentially tax information on a wider basis. Sounds a slippery slope, but these are clowns intent on greasing the Snoopers Charter into law, so expect the worst possible outcome, and then your expectations will be met.

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@AndyS

"Not only that but the commercial channels STILL shovel adverts down your neck, even after you've directly paid them. I don't know why people put up with that."

Thats the thing with TV people want to watch. They are willing to pay for it and accept adverts (usually with the technology to fast forward them) to enjoy what they want. This is why the BBC has such a fear of losing public funding and the imposing license fee. The BBC has some shows which attract some viewers, but they would lose so much money from the rest of us who dont watch it but instead watch content from other channels (even with the adverts).

Personally I am happy for them closing this loophole but I do want them to move the whole thing to a subscription model. That way only the people who bother with the BBC will pay for it. The rest of us can watch what we want without paying the competitor for nothing.

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iPlayer - accounts and international markets

I wish the BBC would use accounts for access to iPlayer. I know loads of Americans who pay for a VPN to get a UK IP address to watch iPlayer. This could become another income stream for the BBC if those viewers paid direct to the BBC and didn't require a VPN. I suspect the current reason the BBC leaves this untapped (in effect letting the VPN providers take the money) is that negotiating the rights to stream internationally would be complicated - but surely not impossible.

Dr Who, period drama, news, documentaries, and an archive of classic TV... That's got to be worth a few dollars a month, a la Netflix etc. That they don't go after this makes me wonder if there is another reason. Perhaps making this a monthly paid for service would make the UK licence fee untenable. The market pressure would sure be towards offering viewers in the UK the same subscription (and by extension the right NOT to pay it). If you love the BBC then it being outside of market pressures is what makes it great, if you hate the licence fee on principle then this is also the problem.

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> This also highlights an interesting question, previously it was the ability to

> receive TV that meant you had to have a license (TV and aerial) so does this

> mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it?

I'm pretty sure you only need a licence to operate the TV receiver, not to own one. Of course the TV Licensing people's presumption is that if you own a TV then you will use it, but in court it is up to them to prove that you did and that your assertion that it's only connected to the DVD player is false.

Perhaps this is the real reason for collecting all those 'connection records' that the IP Bill will require. It's to enforce the iPlayer TV licence.

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> so does this mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it

That is already the case. If you use a PC to access iPlayer to watch live TV you have to have a TV licence. The new proposal extends that to catch-up.

Remember all the law changes that were rushed through to enable internet use spying? Expect those laws to now be used to track down people who access iPlayer without a licence.

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"so does this mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it?"

Why would it? Presumably you'll just have to enter your license number/special key to watch though how this'll work with people owning multiple devices , some of them portable , will be interesting. I imagine it'll be something along the lines of you'll be able to link N number of devices perhaps via MAC address to a given license number.

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"iplayer is a loophole. For the cost of it (a fraction of what the likes of Sky charge), you get an enormous amount. Not only that but the commercial channels STILL shovel adverts down your neck"

Errrr...

Is this I-Player?

Which is FREE;

And ONLY serves BBC output?

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Anonymous Coward

Running a subscription model would mean their cash flow would be erratic, or non existent, as people baled out in favour of the free channels, or moved to the existing pay tv channels

Care to place a bet on how long the BBC would service?

In France, you may opt out of the tv tax by ticking a box on the equivalent of the council tax, via which the 140 euros is collected.

If you are > 60 and your income is below the tax threshold (~ 17000 euros afaik) then you don't pay at all.

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Netflix is worth $40Bn. Isn't the BBC content better than Netflix? What if they were global ?

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Re: iPlayer - accounts and international markets

BBC block VPN access,

At least I can listen to the radio channels.

Les

Manila

Philippines

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"so does this mean if you have a computer and the internet you may have to pay it?"

No, it means they will put iPlayer behind a paywall, access to which will be included to license payers.

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Re: iPlayer - accounts and international markets

"negotiating the rights to stream internationally would be complicated - but surely not impossible."

I suspect the beancounters have calculated that international streaming rights won't bring in as much cash as being able to sell "exclusive" first run rights to various national broadcasters.

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Re: iPlayer - accounts and international markets

They don't block all VPNs, as I can watch iPlayer while I go on vacation back to Spain.

As for charging that much for content.. really not worth it. I would then DEMAND to have the content available after it is broadcasted.. and I mean the minute it is started to broadcast, and to remain some months.

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