back to article pledges licence fee 'rethink' over heavy catch-up use

The government has pledged to 'rethink' the licence fee because so much television is watched via catch-up services on computers, which does not require the payment of the licence fee. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ruled out introducing a licence fee for PCs but has said that his administration will need to find a way to …


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  1. EddieD

    Not rocket science

    Why not ask for your TV license number when you first use catch would be relatively trivial to check for concurrent use.

    1. JAK 1

      the licence is for the household not the user

      so in a family of four they have one licence. All 4 people are legally allowed to watch telly online, your method of licencing would restrict that.

      Unless we have to notify the BBC of how many people are living in the house at any one time....

      1. Joe 3

        Re: the licence is for the household not the user

        Sigh. Do you really think that there's no possible technical solution to this?

        Did you stumble upon this site by accident? I thought the Register was read by intelligent people.

        On a personal note, I'd be happy for it to go down this route. It's great now, getting all these BBC programmes for free, but I understand that the money has to come from somewhere. Perhaps there should be a per-programme fee payable for those who don't want the full-access license?

        1. JAK 1


          Of course there is a technical solution to the problem, I don't believe I stated that there wasn't. I was merely pointing out that forcing registration and monitoring concurrent connections would need to take in to account the numbers of people in the household.

          This would then cause issues with students away from home, as if they already have the code to access the content they are unlikely to sign up for a new licence whilst at uni

          and get over yourself you patronising fool, there are many idiots on this site and comments like yours just go to prove the point

      2. Mitch Kent

        Fair use

        5 connections = fair use, 50 gets flagged. Not that hard a workaround?

      3. David Simpson 1
        Thumb Down


        It wouldn't since all the computers in the house use on internet connection and one IP.

    2. Steve X
      Thumb Up


      Like many other web services, you could sign up for an account with your TV license number & address. Accounts found to be shared get closed. Would even avoid all the messing about over geolocation of IP addresses, if you have a license and take your laptop on holiday you can still access the content via your "license account".

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        No ?

        But if you lock a licence number to an address, and only allow use from one IP at a time, I can't do what I can do now, and watch iPlayer from the train (thanks Virgin)...

        1. Chad H.

          Mobile Use

          Currently you're permitted to use a mobile TV (or laptop for live stream) on your TV license anywere, on the provision that it isnt connected to the mains....

          So, is this locked iPlayer going to have to poll my PC to determine if a PSU is connected, and lock me out if it is?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crapita are already easy to ignore

    Doesn't make any difference because it's voluntary as it is.

    Capita just send a threatening letter every month, which you ignore. Then they send a salesman round every year or so and you just don't answer or refuse to say a word and shut the door.

    They can't do anything.

    1. streaky Silver badge
      Black Helicopters


      I wish more people knew this, the world would be a better place. The detector equipment they claim to have purchased (at extremely high cost one should add), clearly doesn't exist and just goes into the BBC Yacht fund. If it existed they'd show it off, with the caveat the use of the equipment is just plain illegal in the civilised world (using thermal cameras to see people sitting round a warm TV or whatever).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Crapita hold the TV licensing database and operate the call centre. The threatening letters are designed by an ad agency in London called 'proximity' and are printed and mailed by a company based in Bristol, now called 'Orchestra'*. I once had the misfortune of working for the latter of these.

      *This is one of those companies that seems to find the need to change its name every few years or so. Surely nothing to do with whitewashing reputation...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    So anything with a screen... going to be redefined as a Television Receiving Apparatus?

  4. pikey

    It's not Free...

    We have already paid for it though the licence fee, what does it matter how its' watched.

  5. Eden

    It's really not value for money...

    I've not watched TV in years because it's all crap, certainly not Live TV.

    And as for trying to keep up with technology, good luck! what constitues live? and what's to stop websites simply setting up streams that are delayed by the neccesary time period to remove the "live" qualification and nullify the need for licence =p

  6. MrBrie

    Turn it into a refund / TV is becoming irrelevant

    The license fee is, essentially, a tax.

    I never quite understood why there has to be yet another paper pushing factory for it.

    As over 95% of the population is using it, just turn it into another tax already.

    Add a tick box to the tax form for "License fee refund" for the less than 5% of people that need it, and presto.

    You can try to fleece the students or pensioners, but if there's no money to be had, you won't get it off them anyway. Sending them ever more threatening letters won't help -- and actually going to collect the money will cost more than the license fee is bringing in.

    There's always the chance that piped TV is rapidly becoming irrelevant for students in halls -- proper internet connection, torrents-a-go-go and you get all the video-on-demand (without commercials too!) you ever wanted -- and that content is quite possibly not made by the BBC so they shouldn't get money for it either.


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's blindingly obvious

    Every household that pays the license fee gets a PIN which is inputted to iPlayer when you want to watch something. No PIN, no free TV. Job done.

    1. King Jack
      Thumb Down

      East to get round

      Then the pins in their 1000s are posted on the internet. Back to square one.

    2. Steve X

      Not a tax

      There's a very important reason why it isn't a tax, and shouldn't be bundled into general taxation.

      By having it as a separate charge, it gets voted on separately by *Parliament* (note, not by *Government*). That is to prevent the government of the day from applying pressure, along the lines of "Hey, BBC. If you insist on broadcasting that programme on Iraq / expenses / climategate / whatever, you might find that the licence fee will go down next year". As a single line-item in the budget that sort of thing could get through. It's unlikely that even an unhappy but principled government backbencher would risk the wrath of the party by voting against the whole budget over the TV licence. Budget votes tend to be considered as confidence votes.

      Keeping it as a separate debate is the best way to avoid that sort of monkey business. At least it then has some chance of being an open debate, with a non-whipped vote by all of parliament.

    3. Lamont Cranston

      I like this idea,

      as it's very much taking payments from those who can afford it (particularly if it were levied at a % based on your level of income). Then again, perhaps it is those who cannot afford it (non-taxpayers) who consume the most content (not that that should matter, of course)?

      1. Gaius

        A bit like

        When The Sun said it would support the Tories and the next day Sky "mysteriously" lost the right to broadcast the cricket. Well what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is a tax...

        "The television licence fee has been reclassified as a tax, because the licence fee is a compulsory payment which is not paid solely for access to BBC services. Previously, the licence fee had been classified as a service charge. This reclassification means that the BBC will move from the public non-financial corporations sub-sector to the central government sector, effectively moving from one part of the public sector to another."

        Funding from general taxation would save 70 million pounds per year and cease to criminalise the very poor who are disproportionately suffering from this regressive and inefficient tax.

      3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Nice theory, but short on a few facts

        It currently works like this..

        Government of the day set the licence fee by Statutory Instrument, which by convention gets past. So the Government sets the amount the BBC gets already, and Parliament waves it through.

        The BBC then collects the money via Crapita et al, and pays that money into the Treasury's central slush fund, aka Consolidated Account.

        The Government then decides the amount the BBC gets via the Appropriations Act, which includes amounts for the DCMS to give to the BBC.

        So basically any Government is already free and able to decide both the amount of the licence fee, and the BBC's budget by convention.

        (and the last government showed exactly what can happen if the BBC tries to be too independent with the Gilligan affair. DG & governors removed because they'd offended their paymasters)

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Reading is so hard

      "We have already paid for it though the licence fee, what does it matter how its' watched."

      Jesus, try to keep up. The point is what to do about people who haven't got a licence and therefore haven't "already paid for it".

    5. LinkOfHyrule
      Big Brother

      Oh but...

      Imagine if the goventards brought in a law that said all video-streams watched via a network constituted live TV to get round yours and other loopholes. Sounds crazy I know but these people do do some crazy shit!

      Can you imagining needing a TV licence to have a webcam chat with your Australian aunty or to watch Youtube or god forbid to use Chat Roulette!

      Wouldn't surprise me if the idiots do come up with such a stupid law/regulations as a way of stopping people like us who probably only ever watch Top Gear on iPlayer "getting away with it". It's not a licence for a computer - oh no - its just a licence for using a computer really! So that Mr Cu, I mean Hunt cant be accused of breaking any promises can he!

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Oh but...

        You wouldn't need a licence for Chat Roulette, just peril-sensitive sunglasses.

    6. Chad H.

      A bit like Australia.... Where ABC funding becomes a political football

      In Australia the ABC is funded by Tax, and the result is a starved service thats expected to do too much with too little - Because any time they say something that the Cabinet doesnt like, a few extra million is lobbed off the budget; Whereas the BBC i relatively stable by long term license fee agreements.

    7. David Simpson 1


      I'm already sick of "ticking this box some how proves you're over 18" I really have no interest in putting in a PIN every time.

  8. ParkaMark

    Abolish TV License Fee and Introduce Broadband Tax?

    Maybe if the government actually caught up with the times, they would realise that abolishing the TV license fee and then adding a broadband tax might actually allow for proper high speed fibre deployment in this country within the next 10 years, as opposed to their pitiful 'everyone will have 2Mbits by 2015' statement. 2Mbits? by 2015? That will be like modem having a 14.4 modem in 2015 given the way in which the Internet is evolving going and being used.

    They never seem to look 1 cm past the end of their nose do they? I would be all for a broadband tax in conjunction with abolishing the TV license fee as most stuff on TV is pointless crap anyway - much better to just pick off the few select programs I do actually want to (and have time to) watch via a catch-up service, like iPlayer.

  9. Graham Dresch

    Rethink ?

    The only 'Rethink' required is to accept that the licence fee can no longer be justified.

    The argument that 'we have some of the best tv and broadcasting in the world' is utter nonsense,

    The licence fee has been revealed as just another tax which is clearly being rejected by an increasing number of people.

    The rules on licences cannot be any clearer: if you watch online, you do not need a licence.

    what is unclear about that ?

  10. Martyns

    What short memories

    Why is this even a question? People outside the UK cannot access BBC iplayer and "computer monitors" have always been included in the license requirements. I know that because for at least 5 years I did not have a TV yet still had to pay the license fee because I had computers in the house.

    While TV Licensing are quick to assume that because a house has bricks it must also have a TV it seems daft to waste any further time considering whether a computer can receive iplayer or not.

    Oh wait a minute! We have a MASSIVE defecit don't we? This could be a cool way to bring in a few million to cover the extra layer of management the BBC has agreed to scoop off of the civil service list.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top Gear?

    The stupid thing about the way the licence fee is run is that the BBC can outdo commercial TV quite easilly when it wants to. Top Gear for example may be an expensive show to make, but I doubt it troubles the licence fee payer. The show is licenced to other countries and sold to may others, that brings in a big chunk of revenue. Then there's all of the merchandising around the show. If the BBC have any sense at all they'll be using the income from Top Gear and other similarly successful shows to fund the sort of minority interest shows that simply can't be self funding.

    Of course they probably just use it to pay bonuses (boni?) to executives.

  12. John Savard Silver badge

    Obvious Solution

    The UK should abolish license fees, and support the BBC on a reduced level from general revenues, requiring it to get most of its money from the sale of TV commercials just like what I believe you refer to as "ITV" or "Channel Four" - although these terms may be out of date.

    This is what we do in Canada, but with the full American system of commercial announcements - so that the CBC does not need to resort to pledge breaks (a quaint American custom with which you might not be familiar, considering that you don't get the American stations, most specifically PBS, over there on cable or over the air across the border).

    1. Lamont Cranston

      No, no, no, no, no.

      The BBC's independance, from both government and commercial sponsors, it what makes it worth having.

      OK, so most (if not all) of the TV output is utter dross, but if I had to put up with commercial breaks in the middle of the Today Programme, well, it doesn't bear thinking about, really.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        In terms of the BBCs independence from commercial interests you get consumer shows that are truly unswayed by the whims of manufacturers. All manufacturers can do is make hollow threats. Take Vauxhall as an example (that was GM at the time for Merkin readers). Clarkson gave one of their cars an appalling (but I think deserved) review and Vauxhall retalliated by saying they would no longer allow Clarkson to review any of their cars. That's all they could do. If TG was on ITV they could have threatened to withdraw advertising from the channel, had it been on Sky they could have threatened to withdraw advertising from all the groups media. Even the sanctions they made failed to work as TG simply stopped featuring Vauxhall products for a while. Only an idiot would consider that not having your cars featured on the most popular motoring show was a good idea. In that respect the BBC is independent and it works.

        In terms of political independence, not so much. Up until the last decade or so political meddling in the BBC was limitted, but that all changed with the last government. The BBC cowtowed whenever Blair snapped his fingers. And this current situation shows that the current government think they should have control over the BBC. They really really shouldn't. This is nothing but an attempt by Cameron to suck up to the dirty digger and garner some popularity.

        If Aunty has any sense she will come back with some spin of her own. All they have to do is point out that licence fee cuts will mean a reduction in the sort of minority shows that commercial TV does not do and public opinion will turn against the government in pretty short order. Most people have a show on the BBC that they like to watch simply would never appear on a commercial channel. Even if they don't there are certain shows that they like the idea of even if they never get round to watching them. Threaten people with those sorts of cuts and they won't be happy. Politicians may think they are masters of spin, but they don't even come close to what the media can do in that respect. If the BBC want to win this one they can.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          The trouble is that the audience for lots of minority shows doesn't necessarily add up to a majority (or even a significant minority). That's the blessing and the curse of the BBC's independence.

      2. Martin Milan

        General taxation.

        No - take it from general taxation.

        This way, everyone pays according to their ability to pay.

        I agree with you that one of the BBC's main strengths is it's independence - and that independence is easily protected by simply having a Select Committee of Parliament decide on the BBC's funding each year...


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the issue with that

      is that we'd end up with a series of tv channels that show adverts every few minutes, like the American system. It's bad enough on sky!

      While I can't say i like the licence fee, especially as i don't watch huge amounts of tv. I do like being able to watch things uninterrupted. Ie if the BBC had made 24, it would actually have been 24 hours long, not 18, with 6 hours of adverts

    3. Rob 30

      pledge break?

      you're right, i have never heard of this, what is a pledge break?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ROB 30

        Isn't it when they get out the furniture polish?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Not quite right

      You don't need a licence for a computer monitor or television used for a console device or, indeed, any piece of equipment capable of receiving a broadcast television signal unless it is actually being used to receive a broadcast signal. Check the telecommunications act; it's very clear.

    5. The BigYin

      No, no and thrice no!

      One of the best things about the Beeb is the lack of adverts. I am more than happy to pay £12 to not have to watch adverts. In fact, one reason I don't have Sky is because I don't see why I should pay for a channel AND still have to watch adverts*.

      The Beeb has problems, no doubt about that (juniors having to work as producers for no extra pay whilst big-wigs cream off vast salaries for no apparent benefit; for example), the Beeb also suffers from Leftie-bias and has failed to produce a meaningful (hard) documentary on any subjest for about ten years; but compared to the likes of ABC, NBC, CBS etc... just leaves them in the dust.

      One must be very careful when reading "anti"-BBC stories too. Sky would like nothing more than to see the Beeb neutered, then there would be no competition for the dross it outputs.

      *If I ever get around to installing MythTV, that won't be an issue.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Notes & Queries

      "The only 'Rethink' required is to accept that the licence fee can no longer be justified."


      "The argument that 'we have some of the best tv and broadcasting in the world' is utter nonsense,"

      Wrong (and I know what you're thinking, but really even the current UK broadcast channels are miles ahead of the crap the rest of the world puts up with).

      "The licence fee has been revealed as just another tax which is clearly being rejected by an increasing number of people."

      Um. In your head, perhaps. It seems in fact that what's being rejected is paying for things. I don't think freeloading has dramatically increased in recent years; it's always been with us.

      What's always amusing about the anti-licence fee zombies is their unswerving belief that they don't pay for other channels or that they get to choose which they pay for. Ask anyone in the marketing department of, say, Coca-Cola or Nike and they'll tell you that everyone that buys their stuff is paying towards the marketing of the product whether they want to or not, and that includes TV advertising. Want to try not paying that at the checkout at Tescos?

      For some reason paying for your TV that way is not a tax but paying for it in a more targeted and, ultimately, fairer way is.

      "The rules on licences cannot be any clearer: if you watch online, you do not need a licence."

      The rules on licences? What are those?

      "what is unclear about that ?"

      Why people insist on believing this nonsense, that's what.

      1. david bates

        Rules on licences?

        Las time I checked those are the ones printed on the back of the licence. Its been a while as I dont do anything that requires a licence.

        I dont do 'catch-up TV' either, as hotel-based research suggests that most of it is dross, and PC based viewing is not my thing.

    7. max allan


      > The rules on licences cannot be any clearer: if you watch online, you do not need a licence.

      Wrong : if you watch live streaming from the iPlayer (or whatever) online you DO need a licence. If you watch it a day or so later, then you don't.

      So, even watching live American live streamed TV would require you to buy a UK TV licence.

      Except if you watch that on a "mobile device" in a premises without a licence, but have one for your home. Until you plug that device in to the mains to charge it, whereupon, the entire premises needs a licence.

      Beginning to see the unclearness now?

    8. Anonymous Coward

      Read the fscking law before commenting, FFS

      > The rules on licences cannot be any clearer: if you watch online, you do not need a licence.


      > what is unclear about that ?

      Nothing. It's just plain wrong.

      If you watch *live* TV you need a license. Doesn't matter if you use your TV, your mobile phone, or if you stream it via your PC.

      If you watch *delayed* TV, i.e. from a catchup service like iPlayer,. you don't need a licence. It's treated the same as watching it on a DVD.

      That's the crux of the issue under discussion. If a large number of people start watching via catchup services, and don't bother to watch live, then uder current legislation they don't need a licence, and so the income from the licence fee goes down. The government are trying to find a way to avoid that loss of income.

      Clear now?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        You still need a icence for watching 'delayed' broadcasts...

        Remember when video recorders came in, people connected them to monitor and claimed they didn't need a license because they didn't have a television?

        Even if you have no television set, you still needed a license is you had a video recorder.

        And you needed a colour license even if you only had a black and white television connected to a video recorder because the VCR could record in colour.

        Complete madness.

        I'll happily buy a PC monitor, attach it to my generic (non-Sky, non-Freesat) satellite receiver, and point my dish at a different cluster. Not much worth watching on British TV these days. Better off with a subscription to Love Film.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Joe 3
          Thumb Down

          Re: You still need a icence for watching 'delayed' broadcasts...

          Not true. You need a licence for TV-receiving equipment, which a VCR is. Just because the tuner is in the VCR instead of the monitor doesn't mean you can't receive live TV pictures.

          If there's no aerial and no signal with such a set-up you'd be fine.

        3. David Simpson 1
          Thumb Down


          Your video has a tuner which receives a live TV stream and records it to tape.

          It's the receiving of the live TV stream which you pay the fee for so videos classify and PCs don't, unless you watch the live stream from iPlayer etc.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You've been shafted

      You do NOT need a TV license just because you have computer monitors in the house. You should have argued that point forcefully.

      If you tell TV Licensing by letter that you do not have any equipment that is capable of receiving live broadcast, and that you do not watch television, period, you will be ok.

      I have had to make that point to TV Licensing to the point where I threatened them with legal action if they ever contacted me again without my permission because I don't own a television and that it is not illegal to not own one. Their threatening letters can be considered harrassment, and you can get a restraining order if they continue.

      TV Licensing responded with an apology and stopped their letters immediately.

    10. Jacqui

      @Top Gear

      "The show is licenced to other countries and sold to may others, that brings in a big chunk of revenue."

      But this all goes to bbc's commercial arm. The BBC's licence money pays for the production and advertising/promotions (see the DrWho america push) but BBC worldwide (a seperate entity) reaps the rewards and a lot of muckety mucks end up with high value shares and pension funds.

      The BBc is a big con - it is run on a shoestring by poorly paid technical people working on one year contracts. The managers get mutli-K expenses and can put hotels, limo's and new clothes on expenses when invited to BBC and third party awards/events.

      I stopped watching TV some time ago - but we still get the illegal BBC extortion letters, nasty doorstep callers, fake market researchers asking about of (nen existent) TV habits and odd "marketing" phone calls. Any other company using such dirty tactics would have been exposed by now but aunty beeb can do no wrong.


      By the way BBC, we did plan to go "TVless" for just one year then buy a new set - a sort of test to see how much mroe we could get done without a "goggle box". The problem was your nastygrams and enforcers have made sure we will never replace the TV until the licence is killed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Bitter much?

        And wrong as well. BBC Worldwide revenue goes back into the corporation to keep the licence fee down. And there's no such thing as shareholders. Its all very well dissing the beeb, but the alternatives are worse; try living in Ireland where the incumbent provider has used every lever to block digital tv development to stop commercial rivals (not one but two digital tv consortiums have been seen off), charges more than the UK for the licence fee (for a much poorer service) and STILL has tv ads. You don't know you're born.

    11. heyrick Silver badge


      So people who make use of their broadband, but do not make use of iPlayer, will get shafted by this taxation...

      And what the hell sort of logic do you think getting rid of the TV licence and taxing broadband will aid the infrastructure? The BBC will be paid for how? Oh, wait, you didn't bother to look more than 1cm from your wallet.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bloat, bloat and more bloat.

    "no immediate danger to the BBC's income" Well it is about time there was a 'danger' to their income. Some people may well consider that we have 'some of the best TV and broadcasting in the world', but even putting aside the reality of that statement, it begs the question of whether we should we be forced to fund the BBC's multiplicity of channels, web site, and other activities?

    We are given no option as to if we pay this TV tax or not, and that being the case it should at the very least be pulled back down to a more realistic level.

    If we have to fund this bloated corporation, they should either be made to pull back their activities back to a more sustainable level, or made to exist on a much reduced licence fee.

    Two TV channels, four radio channel, and convert the web site to a program listing function only sounds about right to me, either that or drop the fee to £10.00 and let them chop out whatever they want.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    TV Tax Fail

    This shouldn't be a TV tax, it should be a fee paid directly to the BBC. This should be one of the paid services easily done now we're on digital. Why should we be taxed for state run TV?

    If they're worried about people sneaking a peek at a few shows on-line, then put up a paywall, bypassed by those given a PIN when they pay for the full service.

    1. jcw
      Thumb Down

      Wrong, wrong and more wrong

      There are some daft anti-licence people here but, well, oh dear.

      "We are given no option as to if we pay this TV tax or not". Er, no. It's quite simple: stop watching broadcast TV and you don't have to pay.

      "it should at the very least be pulled back down to a more realistic level". I assume you haven't seen how much cable or satellite subscriptions are. For channels with adverts.

      "Two TV channels, four radio channel" Yes, a lot of the newer channels don't show much I'm interested in either. Then again they generally cost less. There may be a case to kill off some of them, but please base it on something other than "sounds about right to me".

      "Convert the web site to a program listing function only". Over my cold, dead body.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Multiplicity of Channels

      The BBC's multiplicity of channels is not something the BBC actually asked for as such. Central government/OFCOM tasked the BBC with encouraging people to switch to digital and the extra channels were the result. I doubt the BBC were particularly keen on being given this task, but it's just another example of central government meddling in the BBC.

      As for other activities most of those are covered by BBC Wordlwide (or whatever it's called these days) and that receives not one penny of the licence fee. The idea behind that branch of the Beeb was originally selling shows or licensing shows overseas, these days it does a lot more than that but its job is still to raise money above and beyond the licence free revenue. I have heard several politicians and idiots* argue that BBC Worldwide should be closed down as it is a drain on the licence fee. This is total tosh and illustrates a complete misunderstanding of the BBC's structure, BBC Worldwide does exactly the opposite to what these idiots are suggesting. Without the operation of BBC Worldwide Aunty would have less money to spend on programming.

      One thing, however, that should be controlled within the BBC is the salary structure. In most public bodies there is a negotiated wage structure, unfortunately this seldom covers senior execs. What should happen across every public funded body from civil service, to local authority, to the BBC, arts council funded organisations and every quango in existence is that single status should be rolled out for every worker from the lowest paid to the highest. The idea of single status is that everybody has a JD in a common format that clearly states responsibilities and tasks that way a person working in say the BBC can be compared with somebody doing a similar job in say Bogshire County Council and pay adjusted accordingly.

      I know people working in the BBC who's salaries are totally out of step with people doing the same job in the private sector or even the real public sector. Likewise I know people who work for a certain opera company who are in the same boat. These are just ordinary folk doing average jobs and getting paid what would be senior management salaries in much of the private sector. So what do the senior management get paid?

      I don't think the licence fee needs to be cut, think the BBC (and the arts council) need to start living in the real world.

      * All politicians are idiots, not all idiots are politicians.

      1. King Jack
        Thumb Down

        That s not in the BBCs interest.

        The BBC is in crisis because people are no longer buying into the 'license fee crap. They realize that they can watch what ever they want for free online (and not go to jail). Even using the BBC's own service. The more people that cotton on to saving around £150 a year by doing this, the more the BBC will suffer. Hiding their output behind a pay-wall will only make folk 'torrent' the program. And the idiots who WANT to pay will dwindle. What is the point of BBC3 and BBC4? Is it to show Top Gear in case you missed it on BBC2? Why not go back to having a few 'quality' stations to save money? Because to the BBC think they have a bottomless pit of cash to do with as they wish.

        The idea of the license is dated. 1000's of channels NOT controlled by the BBC, but you HAVE to pay them to watch them. It is extortion. Just like paying the mob NOT to burn down your business so you can carry on trading.

  15. karl 15


    "We think that one of the reasons we have some of the best TV and broadcasting in the world"

    Is this a joke?

    Scrap the tax, and let the BBC make it's money like the rest of the worlds TV has to.

  16. Rob 30

    keep it simple

    If they just issued a login/password with the TV license you could use it to access all the bbc services including catchup stuff, and they could be sure you were paid up then.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe an e-license should be issued to a registered email address that could be used as an authentication token when using online TV service? Clearly not that simple, but nevertheless...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More meaningless stats

    "40% of students in halls of residence use a laptop as their main way to watch TV"

    What a meaningless statistic! Do they use TV cards, in which case alicence still applies? My kids all had tv licences in halls.

    I don't know anybody that uses ONLY a pc to watch TV. Most people I know have a "proper telly" (and therefore pay a licence fee) as well as any pc related watching they may do.

    Strikes me as bit of the usual posturing and quoting of random meaningless stats prior to jacking up the costs somehow.

    They should spend less time trying to "stop people consuming material..." and find ways to ALLOW them to watch it making sure they pay. The whole "stopping.." thing speaks volumes about the way these people see the masses.

    If they truly believe a flat rate per household, ring fenced broadcasting tax is the way to go, then be honest and make it one. Then no one will need "stopping from consuming" anything and the TV licencing detector/database bullshit can be disbanded saving even more money to be spent on programmes.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its really simple

    Introduce authentication via licence fee. It would get around all those pesky geolocation issues as well.

  20. Ben Raynes

    I wonder...

    <quote>If that device is plugged into the mains electricity then the premises must have a licence or the viewer is committing an offence, the TV Licensing Authority has previously said.</quote>

    So does that mean if I unplug my laptop before I start streaming, I don't need the licence then?

    Bonza! More cash to spend on a faster net connection to watch even more stuff!

  21. John Robson Silver badge


    "A home licence covers users for any watching on a wireless device. If that device is plugged into the mains electricity then the premises must have a licence"

    So if I have a portable telly then I'm covered by my home licence, until I plug it in at work to charge it?


  22. Anonymous Coward

    Clarification please

    The article seems to be suggesting that you don't need a license to watch TV over the internet (ref. "Catch-up" services). I thought it had been clarified already in that you DO need a licence if the program originates in the UK, regardless of the media over which it is transmitted. This seems to confirmed (sort-of) by the last paragraph. Now confused....

  23. yoinkster
    Paris Hilton


    Can the BBC not just block access to the iPlayer for all university IP ranges? I know Warwick has a large block of public IPs, surely it can't be hard to block them?

    I can't think of any other group of people that would be watching when they shouldn't be, the article itself state that over 97% of people have a TV license so that would be the end of the job.

    There is no way that a PC or laptop is going to replace a massive TV for main consumption so this seems like the end of the problem to me. There, consultation sorted, please put my cheque in the post.

    PH because we've all seen her sprawled over the TV (;

  24. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    TV Licensing and enforcement

    The criteria for enforcing license collection must be changing with the digital switch over.

    Up until now, it used to be that if you had equipment that was capable of receiving broadcast television, the TV license enforcement people assumed that you needed a license, and you had to demonstrate to them (on a regular basis) that you didn't use it for broadcast TV in order to escape from their harassment.

    The License used to be required for "owning equipment capable of receiving a TV broadcast". After switchover, TV's with only analogue tuners are no longer capable of doing this, so should be exempt and classed as monitors.

    Will TV's that do not have digital tuners (and where no other digital tuner is in use) actually be exempt from requiring a license? I know that it is almost impossible to buy a TV without a digital tuner now, but I would guess that if you just use such a device for DVD's and videos, TV licensing should stop bothering households that have not purchased digital receiving equipment (ever wondered why you have to prove who you are when buying a TV - it's because that information is fed to TV licensing by the shop! I even had to do this when buying a DVD player not so long ago even though that was not able to receive TV, and also for a TV signal amplifier, even though that is technically not television receiving equipment)

    Of course, the intent of the TV license now is that it should be required for receiving broadcast video in real time from any source (as indicated in the article), so the wording of the license must have changed, although I have not read it.

    1. Dale 3

      unplugged laptop

      No, it means if you unplug your laptop then you would be covered by your home TV licence wherever you happen to be when using your laptop to watch live streaming TV - at work, for example. However if the battery went flat and you had to plug it in, then you either have to stop watching until it's charged, or the premises would need to have a licence of its own for you to continue watching legally. It's a rather daft definition which persists because no-one has got round to updating the regulations around the TV licence. Which is also why watching it live without a licence is illegal, but watching it via catch-up isn't.

      1. Ben Raynes


        It was a joke fella. I thought the icon made it abundantly clear.

        As it is I only bothered to c'n'p the bit of the quote that made the joke worthwhile. The rest of it does invalidate the point.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Exactly so.

      I had just such a conversation with the TV licensing people a few years back. In theory you can charge it from the mains, but if you watch TV with it while it is plugged in, it needs to be covered by a separate license. On battery is fine anywhere as long as you have a license for your home.

      I was having the conversation about USB DVB tuners for laptops.

      The only get-out is if your workplace has paid for it's own TV license.

      Strangely enough, the person at the other end of the email conversation was quite belligerent about wanting to know my address or the license number.

    3. LinkOfHyrule

      You don't

      You don't need a Licence to watch stuff on iPlayer or anywhere else if its not "as live" meaning it's not actually being currently broadcast. If I went on iPlayer right now (12.30pm) and watched least weeks Top Gear, this is legal for me as someone without a licence. If I chose to watch their live stream of BBC News Channel, I would be breaking the law.

      Ask google for some help in finding something officail explaining this. Don't expect such clear cut info to be presented on the TVL website though. It's probably worded in such a way to make anyone think their a criminal.

    4. davenewman

      Universities have a licence to all broadcast TV

      The CLA sells a licence to schools and universities that allows them to record and use all TV broadcasts in the UK forever (not just one week catch up). This licensing scheme has been agreed instead of the default in the copyright act that says educational institutions can copy and use all such material without breaching copyright.

      University students don't stop studying when they go back to the halls of residence.

    5. jonathanb Silver badge

      Not quite

      The licence is for "installing" or "using" equipment to receive TV broadcasts. If you have a TV, either anologue or digital, and only ever use it as a computer or games console monitor or to watch DVDs etc, you do not need a licence, unless of course you use the computer to watch live TV streams over the internet.

      That won't shut up the licencing people though. Just tell them to get lost. They have as much right to enter your property as any other door to door salesman.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        I was paraphrasing the license

        I know that you can justify not having a license, and I think I said that. I am just interested in finding out whether analogue only televisions will still be counted as television receiving equipment.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      Again - The article is correct

      For LIVE BROADCAST, irrespective of the media format (i.e. TV broadcast, cable, satellite, iPlayer, mobile TV) you need a TV license.

      For non-LIVE content, such as catch-up services (ITVPlayer, 4oD, iPlayer, etc), you do NOT need a TV license.

  25. Nigel Brown

    So it's bye bye iPlayer..

    ...and hello to freetardery. I'm pretty sure most of what I want to catch up on is out on the Interwebtubeshighway thing via p2p or nntp anyway.

  26. Rogerborg

    Something Must Be Done!

    Not that licensing revenue is dropping, you understand, there's just that nagging thought that someone, somewhere, is getting something for free. And it must. Be. Stopped.

  27. John Lilburne

    What is the problem

    Configure the streaming software with the license number.

  28. Matt Hawkins
    Thumb Up

    User Accounts

    Give all licence fee payers a user account and require people to login to watch catchup TV services. Simple.

    It will be easy to spot user accounts that are being used excessively and disable them.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much of the licence fee is wasted on collection costs?

    I have often heard that a large part of the licence fee is spent on collecting the licence fee. I'd like to know whether that's true.

    If it is true, then presumably most people would be better off if the BBC were paid out of general taxation instead. In fact, that might be true even if collecting the licence fee doesn't cost very much. The TV licence is basically just a regressive tax. Abolish it, I say.

    (I hardly ever watch TV myself, but other family members do.)

    1. Pete 2

      Ans: very little

      Look at the BBC trust's website. You will find that just over 4% of the >£3Bn is spent collecting the tax.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        very little?

        4% of £3billion is £120million

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This'll be a well balanced and non-rabid discussion, I'm going to get my special f5 key warmed up...

  31. strangefish

    final paragraph says it all

    no change in legislation is either required or desirable as current legislation appears to cover this very well.

  32. yakitoo

    Simple solution

    require a log on using the licence number and the registered postcode.

    Would remove the problem of not being able to view when outside the UK.

    Won't happen though - far too simple

  33. Mike007

    Good luck

    I'm sure whatever solution they come up with will have a lot of criticism, and i'm glad it's not my job to figure this out.

    The 2 main options seem to be:

    1. some form of dedicated income source like the current TV license, but who should pay? if I make my own TV show do you need to pay the BBC before you can download it from my website? and a subscription for users of BBC services just won't work

    2. take it from general taxation, then if BBC news says something bad about the government? oh, well due to budget issues we'll have to cut your funding...

    yeah, good luck with solving this one

  34. Cameron Colley

    This sounds a little like the music industry.

    While I realise some people may decide to watch online rather than pay a license, you may also find that some do it simply because it is there. I am not convinced that online viewing will really replace TV viewing to a degree that makes an awful lot of difference to the number of license payers -- so I'd be inclined to think of it as "shrinkage" for the short term and think about what will happen if most TV goes IP in some way.

    The argument about students, though, was the one that made me think of the music industry first -- students have a history of not paying the license fee going back decades. When I was there we used to watch portable TV which, technically, came under our parent's TV licenses* -- I see this as a more modern version of the same thing. The parallel with the music industry being that students, historically, have always shared music and the only way the internet changed this was to give them more choice -- there was no lost revenue as students would be unlikely to buy music much anyhow.

    *well, arguably at least depending on factors like internal batteries.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    The government should 'rethink'

    Here in the USA the makers of soap and antidepressants pay so we can watch TV for free.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    It doesn't need a rethink?

    I pay for my televsion licence and I'm legally allowed to watch BBC channels, and listen to BBC Radio Stations in whatever form - whether it be in my on televsion, on the internet, over my mobile telephone network; or listen in my car.

    I've read the terms on my TV licence and it says that It does say that you need a licence if you own a computer? Or something like that. I'll check when i get home.

    I don't mind paying for a TV licence because the BBC is provides great televsion and radio programmes, but I'm not prepared to pay any 'more' for televsion, especially as I pay Sky even more money!

    If it aint broken - don't fix it; just leave it as is.

  37. The BigYin

    If they do bring in...

    ...some kind of 'net license, I expect the BBC to lift all restrictions on what players can play back their content. I will have paid for it, so I expect to play it on any device of my choice (PC, Mac, iPod, hacked xBox, whatever; on any OS of my choice [not just Windows]).

    I am also interested in the pricing. At the moment I pay £12 for "all you can eat" and rarely need to use iPlayer as the PC records more than enough stuff for me (only when it has a glitch do I use iPlayer). So if there is a 'net license, will I end up paying more? I strongly suspect the answer is "yes".

    And how does the costing work? Who pays? The owner of the 'net connection or the viewer? If three people share the same net connection, is the fee levied once or three times? What if one person watches three shows at once? Is that now 3 charges?

    With some kind of 'net fee, will they (and by "they" I primarily mean the parasitic distributors) finally get out of the dark ages and agree a global license. If I pay the fee to the BBC (or whomever) why the hell can't I play their content from anywhere in the world?

    Perhaps such a model is the beginning of the end for traditional broadcasters. Perhaps we'll move to a system where you pick a "agency" that has agree license terms and just get what content you want, when you want (e.g. Jamendo, Magnatune) without restriciton. Paying the appropriate fee, of course.

    This will, undoubtedly, lead to the demise of some major player which IMHO would be a good thing. The majors have ruined many promising series in the chase for the current bottom line and jerked content creators around more than enough. I have no doubt the some content creators could "go direct" (e.g. Seth McFarlane, Trey Parker & Matt Stone) and allow their fans access to their content, to major label required.

    Can you smell the fear from the MAFIAA yet? Perhaps this is what ACTA is intended to stop - free trade and an open market.

  38. AdamW
    Thumb Down


    I dont have a TV licence (i have told them i dont need one) as I only watch non-live TV via iplayer and other streaming services.

    If i end up paying i will plug the TV back into the aerial

  39. Shadowthrone

    Surely this is an easy enough thing to sort out

    Every TV license has a license number associated with it....make it so that for the BBC iPlayer you need to have an account that has a License number bound to it in-order to play content that the BBC deem should be covered by the license fee.

    I personally pay for a TV License but do most of my watching of BBC's programs through the iPlayer so I can watch at my convenience. I have zero issue with making me bind my license number to my iPlayer account in-order to view content.

    They could put an incentive on it too, release some programming for free but keep the popular good stuff locked to only license bound accounts.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You get or signup for a userid and password with your paper license number which you use to logon to the catchup website. This way you can also watch the programs you are paying for whilst you are abroad, currently foreign ip addresses are prevented from viewing even if the person is a license payer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The 42 minute hour

      There in the US, you get 42 minutes of programme for every 60 minutes of TV watching. The BBC actually makes hour long programmes.

  41. eJ2095


    Would`nt it be just a case of loging in with your tv licencse accoutn id and your postcode??

    Carnt be that hard to implent surley.

    Then if others want to watch they could add a debit/credit/mobile fone thingy to view..

    But it is the bbc we are talking about so going to cost a min of 5 millions to implement.. lol

  42. iRadiate

    I've already paid once.

    'The BBC's governing body the BBC Trust expressed concern last year about the increasing number of viewers watching catch-up services and said that rules on licences should be clearer.

    Most people in the UK already pay a licence fee. They're forced to because of the snooping vans that go around all over the place. It's pretty much impossible to not pay the fee. Therefore anything I watch on my computer is already paid for

  43. g e

    Actually, forget that

    The BBC can go subscription-based. Then you can login to use iplayer.

    Only sub to the channels you want, e.g. BBC2+3 and pay porportionally.

    Plus the BBC gets a true idea of its perceived value.

  44. hugh
    Thumb Down

    And so it goes

    Every Jeremy Hunt MP policy regarding BBC (c) News International.

  45. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    It would be interesting....

    .... to see how many of the "What's on TV is crap" lobby in the UK actually take a stand, and throw out all their set-top, Sky and Cable boxes, and actually go broadcast free.

    Unless they do this, then all of their protestations about the license fee being unjustified is just hypocrisy.

    I do know two people who have done this out of principal, so it can be done.

    1. max allan

      Add me to the list

      Apart from Top Gear there is virtually nothing of interest to me on TV. So I don't have a licence for watching/recording live broadcasts. I just pick it up a few days later on iPlayer.

  46. Zimmer

    Simple answer..

    Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ruled out introducing a licence fee for PCs but has said that his administration will need to find a way to stop people consuming material paid for by the licence fee for free.

    So stop putting it on the website . I do not think there is any obligation for the BBC to make its content available on the web. Simples.

    (And it will save a lot of ISP bandwidth they are consuming , for free, of course)

  47. xj25vm

    Democracy and fairness at last?

    Well, why not introduce an accounts based system - whereby on paying your license fee you are given a login to the BBC iPlayer website. This way we will finally be able to watch other TV material (ITV, Channel 4 etc.) without having to pay the compulsory BBC tax.

    I am not suggesting in anyway that BBC materials are not of excellent quality - but the current situation amounts effectively to compulsory BBC tax for anybody wanting to watch *any* broadcast TV material on their TV. That is not fair or democratic - and it amounts effectively to lack of choice and freedom. Not exactly in line with a supposedly democratic country with a free economy.

    Or are they by any chance worried that, on given the choice, they won't get 97% of the country watching their material and paying for it? Well, welcome to the real world - ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and everybody else have to fight for their viewers - why would BBC be saved from having to serve directly and fight for their customers? And by real customers, I don't mean lobbying the government for more money (from us).

  48. g e


    Now I know a lot of people still think the BBC provides fabulous value for money but not being one of them I'd say...

    1. FAIL - why did you not think of this internet 'free' consumption at the outset?

    2. It shows the BBC license model is untenable these days and consumption of the service is unmanageable so get rid of it and make the BBC stand on its own two feet.

    Trying to think how many BBC programs I actually give a toss about for my license fee and I think it's just Top Gear, Doctor Who, Being Human & Horizon when they're on which is what... 47 hours of TV a year? So about £3 an hour as the rest seems to be Deadenders or celebrity come house hunting. Everything else I watch is probably split across SyFy, Sky1+2, History, C4, ITV channels. That new Sherlock series was promising though.

    As for repeats? Didn't we already pay for those?

  49. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Not quite

    It is legal to use a TV as a monitor or to watch pre-recorded material without a TV Licence. The onus of proof lies with the TV Licensing Authority to prove you watch broadcast material. However, the Freedom of Information act had to be used to get this clarification from them. Fortunately, I found a copy of their response to a FOI request online before my friend soldered up the coaxial inputs on his 40" TV (try getting a monitor that size for reasonable money!)

    But that's just him. I have no problem with paying a license fee, as I've watched TV in the States- urgh!

    Remember, they would tell you that they have vans capable of detecting TVs!

  50. Sampler

    Because you can't stop people watching online...

    I can think of many online video sites that you're required to be a member of and pay your monthly subscription before you can view there videos - why should iPlayer be any different, simply add in your licence fee details to your account and away you watch.

    Problem solved, you send my cheque in the post.

    And in before the "bugmenot" workarounds, I've yet to use credentials off of such sites that actually still worked and hadn't been either picked up by the site owners as being abused or simply changed by some other asshat because they could.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licence fee anachronism

    It is totally inappropriate that we still have to endure the "BBC tax". When the BBC first started it had no way to fund itself and so the special fee was introduced. Broadcasting was such a novelty that no-one found this fee unacceptable.

    However, this business-model does not apply in to-day's world. How many other companies are given several billion pounds a year to spend as they wish, and keep all the profits. Then, even if they do not use the money wisely it does not matter since they will be given another few billions again the next year.

    I am quite surprised that Sir Richard Branson has not requested billions from the tax-payer to support his profit-making ventures, after all it is free money! Even the ways of obtaining this money are questionable, some might say that "extortion" would not be an unfair description.

    If those contributing to BBC funding were considered as shareholders they would naturally enjoy a share of the huge profits that are generated by the global sales of programme material but no, money is only taken from the taxpayers, none is returned to them!

    Then of course there is the topic of the remuneration of the management. This is on a scale comparable with industrial companies or banks and is again inappropriate for a publicly funded body. These people are not "captains of industry" are they? Well no, they cannot be since they do not follow the same model as commercial companies. One top female last year was awarded a raise of £100,000 - goodness knows what he basic salary was!

    Does anybody realise what a ridiculous mess it all is? Give it up BBC and live by the same rules that other broadcasters do.... work for your money!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    letters and/or digits

    "If that device is plugged into the mains electricity then the premises must have a licence or the viewer is committing an offence"

    Just like it's an offense to lend a DVD to your mate but literally no one cares.

    The legal distinction between plugging a device in and not doing so is so abstract they might as well put restrictions on the number of individual pieces of popcorn you can eat for every 38 seconds spent watching TV. Or what colour shoes you can wear on Tuesday.

    It's nonsense like this that confuses people into having a total disregard for licensing and copyright.

  53. Pete 2

    As the guy says: it's a tax

    The minister is quoted as admitting that the licence fee is a tax. Yet it's a pretty unfair tax, since it is collected per household - rather than per viewer. So (like with the council tax) a house of 4 wage-earning adults pays the same licence fee as an address with just a couple of workers. However, unlike the council tax, there's no single occupancy reduction.

    As it is, the BBC Trust reckons that the evasion rate (the number of people who should pay this tax is about 5% - costing roughly the same amount as collecting it from the rest of us does). If they want to rethink how the tax is collected, there seems to me to be a lot of commonality between the BBC tax and the council tax - which might be the best way to approach it.

    Council tax, despite its name doesn't just go to the council. It is split up and parts are sent to different organisations: the police get some, district councils get some - so adding another begging bowl to the disbursement process wouldn't be too hard. Doing it this way would also mean that the more affluent households (possibly those with the largest number of telly's) would pay more than the bed-sits with just one goggle-box.

  54. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Britain Broadcasting Crap ....... for All of your Sub Prime Ministerial Needs and Infected Feeds

    ""It is not yet clear whether households are likely to switch to internet streaming as the sole method of watching television, avoiding the use of a dedicated television set. It is clear, however, that this is happening in some segments – research for the BBC Executive shows that 40% of students in halls of residence use a laptop as their main way to watch TV," it said."

    Actually, the truth is that the laptop is used as a main way to watch certain TV Channels ....... the Garbage In Garbage Out Programs will be Provided by the Mainstream TV and Media Players, who would be dependent upon Public Taxation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You can lend whatever DVD you want, it's an offence to rent it to your mate.

  55. Sam Liddicott

    Why all or nothing?

    Most TV is rubbish. I don't have one but I watch some things on iplayer.

    I *WISH* there was some way to financially support the programmes I find worthwhile and I WOULD do it.

    But no - I either buy a TV license (which I don't need) and support programmes as the BBC execs decide, or I pay nothing.

    So I pay nothing.

    When there is a mechanism to pay for the programmes I appreciate,I'll pay.

    1. MonkeyBot

      How much do you want to pay?

      You can get a black & white TV licence for £49.00.

      Are the programs you watch worth 95p a week?

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


        Has anybody seen a B&W TV with a SCART connector or a built in freeview adapter?

        Almost all external freeview boxes will only work over SCART, only one or two out of all of the ones I have seen actually encode the freeview signal back over the aerial socket.

        And if you watch Sky (whose boxes do encode the picture over the aerial) using only a black and white television, you need your head examining (Sky Freesat users exempted possibly)

        As a result, will the black and white television license become an anachronism when the digital switch-over is complete? I can see no real need for it any more.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I see..

          So Adam Ant has to buy a colour license then does he as he can only see in greyscale.

          As does my partner...The license is in her name so is legal and valid.

          Now, you were saying???

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Black and White

            So Stuart Leslie Goddard can only see greyscale? (can't see any evidence of this on the net). Does this mean that someone is going to continue making black and white televisions just for him? Or does it mean that there is some medical dispensation that allows him to buy colour televisions and only pay for a black and white license.

            I could envisage a situation where there was a dispensation, like for the blind who get a half price license. It would be better to have a discount on medical grounds than a license for a type of television that will not exist in a few years time.

            But I have a question. Do you only have black and white televisions, or do you have a colour set for which you benefit from a reduced cost license. If it is the former, then I am interested in where you are going to get your next set from. Iif it is the latter, it sounds like you personally are benefiting at the license payer's expense (WHY SHOULD *YOU* benefit from a discounted license just because of the unfortunate affliction your wife has).

            So I think my point is still valid, and your wife's situation is the exception.

  56. TWB
    Thumb Down

    I like the license fee and the BBC

    I watch little TV even though I work in the industry - mostly BBC as generally I prefer the programmes. What I dislike these days is this idea more channels means more choice - it means more crap - I would prefer fewer better channels. I mostly listen to Radio 4 and for the 40 pence a day or thereabouts of the license fee, this is more than worth it.

    You lot who say all the BBC output is crap have no idea what broadcasting would become if it was only commercial - go try US TV with commercials after the recap, then after the opening titles, then after then next 3 minutes.

  57. Dale 3

    Catch-up doesn't need a licence

    The point is that a licence is only required for *live* receiving (watching or recording). It isn't required for watching via a catch-up service such as iPlayer. This is because the legislation only provides for live transmission since there was no other way to receive a TV signal when the legislation was originally written. There is no need (yet) to tie individual iPlayers to licence numbers or special PINs or other enforcement mechanisms because a licence simply isn't required for that purpose.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    Student chiming in here

    When with my Parents I watch MOST TV on iPlayer as catch-up and only rarely watch it live on iPlayer or a TV. At uni, almost everyone watches only on iPlayer catch-up because in halls of residence each students room in a flat requires a seperate license, and then the common area ALSO requires one. so for a 6 bed flat you are talking about 150 x 7 = £1,150.

    On another note, some time ago i noticed a loop hole for watching live TV under your parent's license while at uni. If you watch on a laptop unplugged from the power supply (running on internal power) then it counts as a portable TV under the law and therefore is covered by your parent's license...

    Most students are out drinking / working / at letures / other activities (ok, probably can rule out the last 3 to fit most people's image of students) at the time programmes are live and therefore watch them later. The ONLY programme I watched live in the last year I watched at a friend's house, which was Dr Who (which HAS to be watched live, I feel).

    So, what about the license fee? I would be happy to pay a reduced fee to watch only time-laspsed iPlayer, say £30 a year. And as others have said since the fee-collectors insist on sending us students letters about not having paid our TV licenses regardless of whether we have TVs, which go straight into the big, round filing cabinet, it's £30 they would not be getting otherwise. Or they could charge £3 a month which would be better for students.

    So, there you go. If anyone from the Beeb reads this, here is some genuine feedback.

    Oh, and PLEASE do NOT introduce adverts, ever! I would pay the license fee voluntarily even if the gov. took away the obligation, to avoid ads. Americans posting here are clearly unaware of the enjoyment of watching a programme all the way through without breaks (not to mention the programmes are longer).

  59. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Web site login

    To everyone who has suggested logging in to iPlayer to prove that a license has been paid, how do you prevent "account sharing", whereby someone who pays their license fee gives their number, postcode, password or whatever to the rest of their friends and family.

    It doesn't even work if you restrict the number of logins to the site, because I have 5 family members in my household who are all entitled to use iPlayer by the license that I pay.

    Sky restrict the number of PC and Xboxes that can be registered against my SkyPlayer account to just 3, and I find this restrictive (plus, it doesn't work for Linux systems anyway!)

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Fair competition

    Ignoring that people seem to get their knickers in a twist over a licence which only costs 40p a day (which is considerably less than you pay in tax on a single litre of petrol, and I don't see these licencetards whining about that), the simple fact is that the commercial world really wouldn't cope well if BBC Worldwide+co were suddenly unleashed and allowed to compete fairly.

    Bearing in mind Murdoch is trying to get people pay a quid a day for his crummy online versions of his dreadful rags, do you think he'd be at all able to react to how advertisers would run at if they could?

    People need to think really carefully about what they are wishing for.

    1. max allan

      Don't get me started on petrol....

      > which is considerably less than you pay in tax on a single litre of petrol, and I don't see

      > these licencetards whining about that

      Where does that petrol tax go? I wouldn't have much issue paying it if it meant better roads or more obvious goverment investment into alternatives. But it doesn't it goes into the pot paying for bloody duck islands and other "justifiable" expenses of government unjustifiably requiring people in London as opposed to "remote working" like the much of rest of the world has discovered.

      I'll be quite happy to whine all day long about the fuel tax if you want, but this appears to be a discussion about the BBC...

      1. The BigYin

        Petrol is cheap

        Very cheap. It costs about the same as water which, when you consider what has to be done to actually create petrol, is simply phenomenal; so be thankful for small mercies.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Depends on the water

          If you buy Evian or one of the overpriced so-called mineral waters, you may be right about the price, but might I suggest that you look at the Tesco bottled water at about 15p a litre, or tap water which costs a tenth of a penny a litre in the UK (

          Bottled water will be filtered, sterilized, bottled and transported, so I don't think that there should be that much surprise in the difference in price, although the cost of the water transport system in the UK is non-trivial.

          Remember that beside petrol, other products come out of the refining process, all of which have some value to the oil companies reducing the cost of petrol at the pump. But the cheapest petrol is still about 1000 times the price of tap water if you include the duty, and mearly 500 times the price if you exclude the duty and VAT. Not so cheap actually.

    2. xj25vm


      " ... the simple fact is that the commercial world really wouldn't cope well if BBC Worldwide+co were suddenly unleashed and allowed to compete fairly."

      Erm - very funny. Wouldn't it be the other way around? I think it would be rather different to go scrounging around for advertising revenue and begging various businesses for money - instead of getting all your revenue in one big dollop from the Government. You better go and check how 'easy' it is for other media companies to raise advertising revenue. Oh, and by the way, they would have to offer in return programme quality commensurate with the money they have - so the less money you raise, the poorer the programs you make, which leads to less audience, which leads to less money from advertising.

      Oh yeah - it sounds real easy. Oh no - it actually isn't. But it *is* how real, free, economy and works out there. And how all sorts of other organisations have to do it.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    yeah, yeah, yeah....

    I hope they employ some kind of double registration hoop jumpery and a tight as a gnats ass authentication system.

    Then most people will simply turn away and start doing actual stuff instead getting fat on a sofa and being brainwashed by the politically correct, agenda driven tripe that the BBC produces so much of.

    But no, they'll do a "broadband tax" you know they will.

  62. Tom 106

    Catch up with the times.

    Surely, the time is right for the BBC to become a subscription TV service, instead of retaining a draconian method of a "licence fee"? Or, to resolve the Beebs problem of the iPlayer, simply remove that service, as it will also save money on the Beebs server bandwidth.

    @ Martyns: There is no requirement to obtain a TV licence for simply having a laptop, personal computer or a pc monitor. However, there is a requirement if your computer has a TV Tuner/receiver card/adapter.

    1. xj25vm

      @Tom 106

      "There is no requirement to obtain a TV licence for simply having a laptop, personal computer or a pc monitor. However, there is a requirement if your computer has a TV Tuner/receiver card/adapter."

      Actually, I believe according to the law - you only need a license if you use said equipment to watch broadcast TV. If you look carefully - you will find that just having the capability is not enough to be in breach of the law. You are forbidden from *watching* broadcast TV without a license - not owning the capability. They actually would have to prove in a court of law that you have watched TV - not just that you were capable of. But of course - in general it is assumed that if you have a TV, you are using it. But strictly according to the letter of the law - they would have to prove you have actually used it. It is not illegal to own the actual equipment without a license.

  63. Matthew 3

    A solution?

    As far as I can see, nobody has mentioned Sky's watch-via-the-net service which is logged against a subscriber's account and allows you to install the player on up to four computers.

    This seems like an ideal solution for the Beeb too. If you don't need four permitted computers, you could share it with someone ineligible but it can't get shared with hundreds of other people until you remove some of the already-authorised computers.

    And why don't they offer an option for overseas viewers to pay per programme, perhaps via Paypal? My sister in the USA would love to be able to watch them and would happily pay a few quid here and there for the better stuff. I reckon it would bring in miles more revenue than it would cost.

    It would also negate the need for the IP blocking and would stop me having to bugger about with VPNs back to a British IP address when I'm abroad on a business trip.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    All missing the point?

    Seems to be a lot of people suggesting how simple it would be to bar anyone who doesn't hold a tv license from watching iPlayer. All of whom seem to be entirely missing the point. Of course it would be relatively trivial to implement, and if they needed to, I'm pretty sure the BBC wouldn't need your help doing just that. But that's not what this is about. At all.

    The law says you DO NOT NEED a tv license to watch pre-recorded iPlayer content. Hence, ya know, the title of the article about having rethink about how covering catch-up tv and that explanatory first paragraph about "watched via catch-up services on computers, which does not require the payment of the licence fee."

  65. Simon Millard

    Let me get this straight..

    You need to have a TV licence to watch live tv. But...people are moving to watching catchup TV which doesn't need a licence. The powers that be have realised that their income stream is drying out. Now they are thinking of licencing any form of streaming video?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best in the world?

    Some of the BBC output is worth keeping. Most isn't.

    I live in Ireland now; the main BBC (and RTE) channels are included on Sky. I rarely watch them. Occasionally I watch some badly scripted, cheaply produced piece of me-too drama (most recently Sherlock Holmes) and wonder where all the money is going.

    £237m on the World Service for instance, much of it not in English. BBC Russia? Why is the British taxpayer still funding this stuff? It's like some bizarre throwback from the empire/cold war.

    Whilst most of the Sky-produced stuff is crap, they buy in the same reasonable quality US drama stuff that the BBC and RTE pay for, except usually a few months ahead.

    Why would I want to pay for Holby-bloody-City when I can watch considerably better US produced output? If I want a bit of Englishness I can watch Hugh Laurie and Tim Roth in a programme that doesn't look like it was produced in someone's shed.

    The future is ad-free and on-demand for those that want it. A sliver of general taxation would pay for Today, BBC News and a bit of World Service.

    As for the ludicrous suggestion that the independence of the BBC via the licence fee somehow keeps us free from totalitarian oppression, give one meaningful example of where that has been the case. Iraq War? Ministerial expenses? Where's the powerful investigative reporting that stopped those clusterfucks. No 10 is probably still full of comfortable ex-BBC types maintaing super cordial relations with their ex-colleagues as they craft the next dodgy dossier.

    Rip it all down, wait a couple of years and then see what market intervention is required.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      BBC World Service

      is funded by the foreign office, not the license fee.

  67. Nigel 11

    Why have yet another sort of tax?

    To me, the answer is obvious. Now that at least 99% of the population watch TV one way or another, include the TV license fee in people's income tax, by reducing the personal allowance.

    Have a no-TV opt-out box on the tax return. Anyone caught watching TV who had ticked that box, would be guilty of deliberate tax evasion, a more serious crime than forgetting to pay for a TV license. And the TV detector vans would know exactly where to watch.

    Or maybe, don't have an opt-out box at all. There's no opt-out from paying for the NHS if one has full private medical cover, nor from paying for schools if one does not have children. The admin cost would be greatly reduced this way... all the way to zero!

    Whichever, everyone on a very low income would get a free TV license by default, which seems fair.

  68. Stuart Halliday

    generate revenue

    Why not invent a 2nd category License like when we had a black & white version which is for online use?

    Print a once only code on the license and get the users to enter this into iplayer?

    This'll generate extra revenue.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    LOLs eh?

    As a non UK citizen I love to watch your online TV.


    As if....

  70. steogede


    >> Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ruled out introducing a licence fee for PCs but has said that his administration will need to find a way to stop people consuming material paid for by the licence fee for free.

    Clearly he doesn't understand what the BBC is nor what the Television Licence is. Most of us frequently consume material 'paid for' by the TV Licence which does not require a licence - i.e. iplayer, BBC website(s), BBC Radio. On the other hand, most of us also pay for a licence to watch material which is not paid for by the licence fee - i.e. commercial broadcast television. This has been the case for decades - how does iPlayer change this? 95% of homes are still paying for a licence and this shows no sign of changing rapidly, so why mess with it?

  71. Lord Lien

    Licence Fee....

    The worst thing about the license fee, is there is no opt out clause. I personally can live with out the BBC TV Channels & the other services they provide. Everything is repeated on the other channels (Dave for example) that show adverts, so the BBC make revenue from licensing that program to that channel. I would be quite happy to have my access to the BBC restricted & not have to buy a license.

    The license fee should have been scrapped years ago. They should become "the sucker of Satan Cock" & start making money from advertising.

    Wheres the Bill Hicks icon when you need it?

  72. Brian Nevis

    licence number authentication

    Earlier a poster suggested using licence numbers as login. To those that think licence numbers would be shared with those outside the home i.e. ending up on the internet; and thus the idea is invalid. We could consider adding a 'refund my remaining licence fee' button, followed by a form to input a new address and name.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Catch up TV is a waste of time.

    "We think that one of the reasons we have some of the best TV and broadcasting in the world in this country is because we have these different streams of income including the licence, including subscription income and including advertising."

    Sorry don't see anything on TV that isn't crapola or American. Can't think of anything that the BBC do of worth other than nature programs, their news isn't news because it is the same as sky news. Lacks journalistic integrity and now through fear doesn't even ask the serious questions, like Phorm, digital economy eavesdropping bill, liberty taking the Govt to court on the anti terror law. Things like that.

    And iplayer rarely has anything I want, Top gear is the main one which due to licences can't be shown half the time, or is such a limited resource I can't catch up until Dave gets it. And then only half the episodes make it onto Dave.

    Same can be said for half the programs I do actually watch. If it wasn't for Dave I wouldn't watch TV at all, it is that shite. I buy the box sets of american series that don't make it here and can do without the TV completely.

    And of course iplayer and the others are so juddery on my Wii and N900 I can only watch on my PC, which is not the best place to watch it.

    Bloatware, crap interface, poor choice and appalling considering I pay vast amounts of money as tax for the privilage.

    1. semprance


      The only show I can think of that I ever watched regularly on BBC moved to Channel 4 years ago (you can probably guess which one).

      Additionally the argument that we pay for other channels through the products they advertise is utter tripe. I have the choice whether to buy a given product or not. If I designate an arbitrary figure of 10% to cover advertising costs for any given product then I can shop around and find it for 10% cheaper. Better yet, I can choose not to buy it at all. Pity I don't get that choice for a service that consists of channels and internet playing services that I never use.

  74. John Munyard

    Put it on the net and then try to licence it

    God forbid that perhaps all the BBC should do is put iPlayer on subscription? Maybe they should just scrap it - it's not like we don't all still have Sky+, DVDRs and even VCRs is it?

    Who made BBC god of the Internet? I say scrap the whole poxy service before the politicians decide they can add it to the

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me a PAYG TV License...

    Price it in such a way that if I watch live TV, I pay per show per day, with a top limit being the annual TV license, so that people who don't watch tosh like Eastenders or whatever don't have to pay for it.

    I'd be perfectly happy to pay for technology/science programmes like Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections or James May's Toy Stories, or series like Spooks, but crap like Strictly Come Dancing, any soap stuff etc I don't have time for.

    With a PAYG license I would pay for what I consume, and if I get close to the the annual license fee, TV Licensing could encourage me to pay for it annually instead. I would be ok with that. It still indicates some sort of choice, as opposed to the current system where I am practically threatened under pain of death (well, close enough anyway) to pay for a license, even if I don't watch TV.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      dont want or need sky+

      I personally don't have sky+ and dont really see the need for it, with catch up services like the Iplayer, itv player, 4OD anything that was worth watching that i missed watching it live is on one of these services. If it was on sky then it probably dross anyway.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    So what about...........................

    The TV in my car, not got a licence for that. It is the only physical TV i have owned for nearly four years. Not had a TV licence for four years either. Last time the guy came to check we didn't have a TV he didn't even come into the house! Yes I use the catchup services, not just the iplayer, if there is something I want to watch.

    Other channels get their funding from elsewhere, why should the BBC need a tax to get their funding?

    Anyway, how did the BBC get to use the name iplayer without Apple complaining about it?

    Black helicopters, because you know they are watching

  77. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    The Curse of The BBC is...

    ... that you can't please all of the people all of the time.

    Unfortunately, not every one likes "Top Gear", "The Sarah Jane Adventures", or "Newsnight", or any of their many award-winning animal porn* programmes.

    The problem is that the typical anti-BBC rant usually follows this logic:

    1. The BBC cannot please everyone all the time.

    2. Since "everyone", by definition, includes me, the BBC therefore cannot please *me* all of the time.

    3. Only my personal tastes should be taken into account as I am a paragon of taste.

    4. Therefore, the BBC must please *me*, ALL of the time. It does not do this.

    5. Nobody else's opinion or personal taste matters. "Top Gear" / "Newsnight" / Radio 4 is shit!

    6. As the BBC cannot please me all of the time, the BBC is worthless and must be stopped.

    7. I hath spoken!

    * (Attenborough and his BBC Natural History teams seem to be fixated with showing animals having sex with each other. Why the Daily Fail considers this stuff perfectly okay for children, I've no idea.)

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Hear hear.

      My thoughts exactly.

  78. Anonymous Coward


    "If that device is plugged into the mains electricity then the premises must have a licence or the viewer is committing an offence, the TV Licensing Authority has previously said."

    So, if i charge my 12v batteries, slap them into an inverter to step up to mains voltage i dont need a license???

    Fab, where's my UPS...At 1kw it will power my sky box and tv for 4 hours or so, then i can charge it up again, disconnect it from mains and watch my tv for free...

    Oh, you could of course do what i do and get a bw license. As long as your name is on the "paid" database they leave you alone.

    1. The BigYin

      You need a bigger box...

      ...IIRC it must run from internal power in order to be exempt.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      That's OK

      so long as you have a license for you home. Daft, isn't it. If you don't have a license then you're committing an offense. Ditto the black and white license for a colour television. And it's a criminal offense, not a civil one, so you get a criminal record if caught.

      Apparently, the BBC's figures indicate that several hundred thousand people were found to have no or an incorrect license in 2005-2006, and if you have a black and white license, you can still expect a visit from an enforcement officer, not that they can do much.

  79. MontyPole
    Big Brother

    Look Out There's a Monster Coming

    This will be just a roundabout way of increasing the licence fee.

    I don't watch any TV programmes when they're broadcast 'live', yet I'm legally obliged to subsidise the BBC regardless. I hardly watch any TV at all, yet I'm legally obliged to subsidise the BBC regardless. So next thing is because I own a PC and never watch TV on it from any source, I'll be legally obliged to subsidise the BBC regardless.

    Surely, if I'm so desperate for something to do, and I choose to watch one of their programmes on my PC via the internet I've already paid to watch it with my licence fee. As will the majority of the UK population. Great, I pay once to not watch it 'live' and again to not watch it via the internet.

    Are they going to deploy a Thunderbirds style fleet of international detector vans? To force people around the world to pay for crap they might/maybe/have-the-means-to-watch-even-if-they-don't?

    The TV licence is a shambles. Back when the BBC did make worthwhile programmes worth watching, it probably make some sense. Because the only way you could watch them was 'live'.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Pay per view

    I wouldn't mind paying say 20-30p a programme to the BBC, but there's no way I would ever pay the license fee, I hear it is over £100 nowadays.

  81. David Simpson 1

    For just £2 a month.

    I think taking it from tax is a bad idea, this makes it much too close to the government.

    Add a tax to broadband, I be happy to add, say £2 a month to my broadband package if it went straight to the BBC, the make the best TV generally and their web presence is great.

    Turn off Eastenders and other big star driven nonsense (golden handcuffs etc.)

    If you make programs to compete with commercial television then by proxy you are commercial without the income.

  82. Petrea Mitchell

    Tax me! Tax me!

    How about this: the iPlayer remains free to use for catch-up inside the UK, and instead of being totally blocked outside it, it becomes available for a fee, either subscription or on a per-episode basis. People already paying the license fee can use the BBC Web sites as their VCR for free, the rest of us get to see BBC shows in a timely manner instead of waiting for the tapes to be delivered to our shores via carrier pigeon, the most impatient people use BitTorrent less, and that takes the pressure off ISPs to become copyright cops. How does that sound?

    1. The BigYin

      Won't fly

      The morons in the RIAA, MPAA, BPI etc won't agree to it. They want to keep trade restricted and obstruct the free market so they can profiteer. This is why they try to carve up the world into regions; despite the fact that the 'net is global and has little concept of borders (e.g. I could get a USA VPN account and watch Hulu).

      C'mon, Sony thought that attacking people's equipment with a rootkit was justifiable. That is the mentality we are dealing with here!

      1. Petrea Mitchell

        But it's too late for that

        The BBC already has a huge music library licensed. As long as it tracks what's being viewed where and pays the appropriate fees to the appropriate royalty-collecting body, the RIAA et al. can't do a thing about it other than throw a huge tantrum the next time those agreements are up for renewal. And I don't see why they would once they see that they're still getting their money.

  83. Al Jones

    "Subscription income"?

    "We think that one of the reasons we have some of the best TV and broadcasting in the world in this country is because we have these different streams of income including the licence, including subscription income and including advertising."

    What quality TV does the Sky Subscription produce? As far as I can tell, Sky manage to charge a subscript AND charge for adverts, but they don't actually don't produce any new programming, except for sport, which has become totally distorted by the sort of money that broadcasters pay to prevent other broadcasters having access to those spors.

  84. M Gale

    I have no television.

    And I'm one of those last hold-outs who still have a dialup modem screeching away every time I connect. The BBC can go swivel, frankly. I gave up television precisely because of the TV license, and I'll never, ever pay it nor buy a television set. It's just like any other addiction.

    Best thing about this is? I don't miss it one bit. Give it a try. A few weeks later and you'll be wondering why you ever bothered with TV.

    Now feel free to start with the downvotes.

  85. Anonymous Coward

    Funny business model

    I've been puzzled for a while about the BBC's business model here. If a farmer keeps chickens and sells fresh eggs at a profit, why would he also allow people to have his day-old eggs for free? Surely all his customers will just take the day-old ones and his profit will vanish.

    There are two fixes I can see. Charge for the day-old eggs, or don't let the customers have them in the first place. That is why it puzzles me that the BBC have been promoting their iPlayer as some sort of great new idea. Great for the viewers, maybe, but not for the BBC's business. I couldn't see Microsoft ever making a mistake of that sort.

    The same thing is on the cards if we ever all get electric vehicles that we can plug in at home. How will the fuel be taxed? You'd really think people would spot these problems a bit earlier.

  86. heyrick Silver badge

    One itty bitty question...

    iPlayer is blocked for international viewers. So we're talking UK only. In the UK, the system seems designed to *assume* everybody has a television unless they state otherwise.

    So how many people are actually heavy iPlayer users without being licence payers? And I don't mean technicalities like "boarding school doesn't count because..." for the kids parents will have a licence that covers them at home, so they can be considered a non-entity. I mean actual "deny having a TV but watch it all online" people. How many? Where are the numbers?

    Or has the Beeb been caught out with iPlayer being popular, and the crap UK broadband infrastructure struggling and ISPs wanting some cash for shifting all this streamed data around. Perhaps that's the truth of the matter. More cash needed...

  87. Anonymous Coward

    no system is perfect

    Surely the non-tv viewing is an argument for the license fee. My understanding is that the fee is attracted by having a working tv tuner not a screen. Since the BBC produces mostly tv programmes, it makes sense to tie the fee to having a tv. Yes you could work around this by using catch-up tv, but that's mostly some rubbish tiny flash video (at least it is on the commercial networks in Australia).

    Why not push the adoption of PVRs? Catch-up tv must be an expensive way of distributing video when you have a broadcast network already. If it isn't, its probably because not many people are using it. Add some slingbox-type functionality to your pvr and you've offloaded catchup-tv bandwidth requirements from the BBC.

    Alternatively, make signing over the rights to programming a condition of working for the BBC, rather than partial rights purchases. Then you could dump the programmes onto the torrent networks after broadcast, again, offloading bandwidth requirements and fancy website development costs.

    The BBC is there to provide decent programming to the British public. Rather than profit maximising, why not take the approach of, "Do we have enough money to fulfil our charter?" Yes it isn't fair that foreigners may get stuff for they haven't paid for, but a better question is, "is it worth it to us to pay for it?" Convert the license fee to the number of video rentals. I'd suggest there is at least that many hours of decent programming per year. If you feel there isn't, you have the option of not running a tv tuner.

    I'd admit that there is probably some obnoxious left-leaning, middle-class "intellectual" bias, but try comparing it with Fox, CNN or Sky before determining whether it should be penalised for its flaws.

    In terms of independence, I would suggest that it is very important to have a significant non-commercial media counterbalance. Government independence should also be a goal, but the commercial stations can provide some of this should undue pressure be exerted on the BBC, as has been seen with threats to pull funding.

  88. Anonymous Coward


    The answer is obvious and solves a number of other issues as well....

    Tell the BBC to cut iPlayer. That will...

    Save the BBC money.

    Possibly stop the swede gnawers from constantly whining about their slow broadband

    Return the copious bandwidth wasted on iPlayer to what the internet was designed for - downloading ripped off porn.

    Provide a new degree subject - programming a PVR

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Web Telly

    Those people promoting web only telly want to count every view at any time as a discrete viewer to make their viewing figure look huge.

    Traditional telly viewing figures supposedly count the number of people watching a single broadcast as it happens.

    If you start counting catch up views on iPlayer, 4OD or whatever then you'll almost be counting viewers the same way web only TV does - you still won't be counting people using Sky+ or other DVRs. This will seriously mess with the business model of the web only TV companies. And so it should, their output mostly makes Five look good.

  90. Richard Porter

    The answer is obvious.

    Pay the licence fees on behalf of all households out of general taxation at the agreed rate per household. 98% of households have televisions. You give the other 2% licences they don't need but save all the cost of collection, administration and enforcement. The BBC gets more and the tax payer is no worse off.

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