back to article iPlayer repeat fees threaten BBC earthquake

Is it fair to ask people to pay a second time for media they've already paid for? Or is it fair to charge people for media they never use - and send them to prison if they decline to pay? Of these two injustices, which is the greater? Last week, PaidContent UK revealed a few details on plans by the BBC to charge for repeats …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One flaw

    The BBC broadcasts so many repeats and has such few decent series, it just leaves the wildlife documentaries that are of any interest. Eight whole new episodes of Top gear a year, before being repeated endlessly. Have I got old news for you and mock the week again do not even make sense repeating them 6 months later due to the topic being recent news.

    The odd missed episode may be useful for some. Makes me wonder if cable customers that have the iPlayer will be expected to pay too.

    I refuse to pay the licence for many reasons and am able to watch the catchup tv without needing one as it is not a live broadcast. Guess it makes me a freetard!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One flaw

      Well, that's one way the BBC can generate some revenue - require a TV licence to watch iPlayer.

      The AC's other point is valid though. There are free repeats on TV, DVD sets to buy, and now paid-for repeats online. A confusing proposition. And if I'm paying for repeats, do I need a licence?

      Once the BBC starts charging pay-per-view for repeats, it seriously undermines the case for the TV licence. I pay my licence but only watch a couple of programs a week. Maybe I'd be better off on a pay-per-view model - but then the BBC loses my licence income. So, the BBC might be better off to consider the licence a subscription. It doesn't have to be all-you-can-eat. It might be that you get x hours per week of downloads.

      Oh, I dunno. My head hurts. The tyranny of choice again.

    2. Jeebus

      Re: One flaw

      The documentaries will be made by someone else anyway. These being the ONLY good thing BBC have produced in decades [literally, not a hyperbolic flippancy but quite legitimate] and there are some of equal quality in production by others now.

      Same for the licence, I resent paying for it, and don't, not that I ever watch anything the BBC produces outside of some Blu-Rays anyway.

      1. Gizzit101

        Re: One flaw

        Look at the source article - the proposal isn't a subscription model, or pay-per-view. It is "download to own".

        Just like buying a DVD without the physical disk.

        Nothing wrong with that, but I'd probably expect a "long-tail" mechanism, where older and less popular content starts to drop in price.

        1. Just Thinking

          Re: Just like buying a DVD without the physical disk.

          The trouble is, buying a DVD without the physical disk is nothing like buying a DVD.

          You can't give it as a gift, lend it to a friend, sell it or give it to Oxfam when you are fed up with it. And if you happen across it in X years time and decide you would like to watch it again, you will probably find the latest hardware/software won't play it.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: One flaw

        BBC wildlife documentaries are NOT made by someone else, they are made by BBC Bristol. As far as I know, the filming and post-production work is all done by BBC employees (one of whom is a drinking buddy, so I do have a vague idea what I am talking about). This is one of the few worthwhile things that the licence fee is spent on.

        Also, I heard that programmes like Top Gear actually bring in more money than they cost to make, because they are sold on to broadcasters in other countries. If this is the case (and it IS hearsay), then surely this undermines the case for the licence fee, as there is no reason the BBC cannot be a self-sustaining entity that makes its money selling profitable programmes overseas, to repeats channels like Dave, and on DVDs. Charging for stuff on iPlayer would further undermine the case for having the licence fee at all. Quite frankly, my opinion is that it is long past the time it went.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One flaw

          Top Gear doesn't bring money in to the BBC, because the rights to the show's 'concept/format' are owned by Clarkson, so the money goes to him for selling overseas.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Anyone for the facts?

            As others have said - you only need a TV licence in the UK for viewing/recording live to near live TV programmes whatever method or device is used. You do not need a TV licence just because you own a TV or a PC or a VCR/DVD-R if you do not view or record live or nearly live TV programmes. Nor do you need one for Radio even if listened to via a TV.

            Secondly Clarkson does not own all rights to Top Gear - He owns 30% of the company that has the rights to the Top Gear Brand and distribution rights (Andy Wilman the producer has 20%) and BBC Worldwide have 50%.

            BBC Worldwide's biggest earners are Top Gear and Doctor Who.

            The Licence fee generates about £3.6 Billion and BBC Worldwide contributes £160Million on Sales of £1.1 Billion. The profit from BBC Worldwide returning to the BBC - offsetting some costs to the licence payer.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Anyone for the facts?

              Another nice fact about Top Gear that the licence fee payers should know - Clarkson's salary for making between 6 and 10 programmes in a season? About 2 million quid, plus free holidays to all the places where he decides they should film 'specials'.

              He also earns around a third of all the income from selling the programme that we've paid to be made around the world. Oh, and Clarkson lives on the Isle of Man, so he pays no income tax from those earnings into the UK system despite the fact that the UK population supports his license fee-subsidised production.

              So if you ever get to meet him, punch him very hard in the testicles while shouting 'POWER!' in a Mexican accent. I'm sure he'll see the funny side of it.

        2. strum Silver badge

          Re: One flaw

          If the BBC was funded on sales outwith the UK, then it wouldn't be the British Broadcasting Corporation anymore, would it?

          In fact, the BBC makes a tiny sum from overseas sales. It probably should do more, but that's never going to fund the whole shebang.

          It makes sense for the Beeb to dip into as many different funding methods as possible, rather than rely on just one (which could disappear, overnight).

    3. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: One flaw

      I watch BBC for precisely five programmes. Not Going Out. Anything by David Attenborough (3D-junk aside). Russel Howard's Good News. Mock The Week. QI. My girlfriend watches those and Inspector Montalbano (but she's Italian, so that's understandable purely because it's the only Italian programme on British TV).

      And, you know what? Waiting for new content on those outweighs actually being able to watch ANY of them. Averaged over the year, none of those programmes show a new edition more than once every six months. I don't watch the repeats of those programmes at all. So turning on the TV in the hope of catching something new from those programmes means that I'll almost certainly be disappointed.

      I do what I think everyone else does now - I bought the boxset on DVD and watch them at my own convenience if I want to watch repeats and use the TV only for "new-new" stuff. Why would I wait for them to appear, come up on iPlayer or anything else? I had two years without a TV. Can't say I missed it at all. We bought a license for an old-fashioned CRT TV we rescued from the scrapheap. It gets watched a couple of hours in the evening if it's lucky and usually for junk. I'm not entirely sure it's worth it at all.

      The BBC used to be great. iPlayer was a world-leader. But if they have nothing to show, there's nothing worth watching. Repeats are there to fill time on 24-7 channels that have nothing else to show. They should *NOT* make up the majority of live or online content. There's something to be said for "catch-up TV" and historical archives of shows, sure, but if it's historical content I'm after, I'll pop over to 4oD for some Whose Line Is It Anyway (though I see the BBC have poached Dan Patterson and almost the exact format of that show now, 20 years later) or stick a DVD of something good in.

      The BBC's greatest strength was it's ability to broadcast well. But the content is now sadly lacking and the best shows are "vintage". It's not the only provider to fall into the trap of accessibility taking place over actual new content. Hell, I just bought The Two Of Us on DVD because I wanted to watch something actually FUNNY and ITV don't show that any more, and Rough Science, because I remember it being quite interesting when I watched it first time around (and it features Italy in the first series), and there's nothing "new" to watch. There are a few gems on TV now, but an enormous amount of dross (anything that involves a phone-in or viewer-voting) and repeat. Dross I avoid. Repeats I have sitting on DVD if they are any good. In the absence of new programmes, I'd rather find something on DVD that I haven't seen and nobody currently broadcasts.

      The point of Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, Russell Howard's Good News, etc. was that they were funny, current, and different. Hell, even Drop The Dead Donkey was tied into current affairs. If you want people to watch it, either admit it's archive and charge accordingly (i.e. no more than it would take to buy a DVD with that episode on it divided by the number of episodes on that DVD) for permanent access, or make it new and current and have enough of it to keep me wanting to watch.

      I was invited to a filming of The King Is Dead a year or so ago. New BBC "comedy" show that was offered to me because I missed a place in the QI audience. I can safely say that I was embarrassed to sit through it. The funniest bit was the comments in between filming (which never made it into the episode) and the unheard-of warm-up comedian. The BBC aren't content producers any more, they're archive managers. And they do that badly. I'll just stick to my DVD's of stuff they could be bothered to license out.

    4. jm83

      Re: One flaw

      Is 'being stingy scrounging bastard' one of the reasons on your list?

    5. HMB

      Re: One flaw

      I think it's fair comment that there have been a shocking number of repeats recently, but I still love new Horizon episodes I watch a bit of Top Gear too, but other than that there's not really that much I want to watch. The license fee is kind of steep for just two shows I want to watch.

    6. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: One flaw

      Er, you do have to have a TV license to watch iPlayer, or rather, you are supposed to have one.

      (Personally I'm happy to pay my quarter share of our house's telly license. 6Music is worth it all on it's own to me.)

      1. Chad H.

        Re: One flaw

        @ phuzz the BBC say its only needed for program's as broadcast. BBC news stream does, I player catchup doesn't.

      2. King Jack
        Thumb Down


        "Er, you do have to have a TV license to watch iPlayer, or rather, you are supposed to have one."

        No you don't. You only need a licence if what you watch is a live stream.

        1. Semihere

          Re: Very Wrong.

          Good luck arguing THAT point to the inspectors if they come knocking. It doesn't have to be a live stream, it just needs to have the capability to watch BBC channels, which the BBC website provides this too (News24) so owning a computer with an internet connection now requires you to have a TV licence.

          1. dz-015

            Re: Very Wrong.

            "owning a computer with an internet connection now requires you to have a TV licence"

            Utterly false. Stop spreading stupid ill-informed urban myths and actually try doing some research to learn the truth.

          2. King Jack

            Re: Very Wrong.


            You muppet. Don't fall for the BS that Crapita feed you. You do not need a license to use a computer. You don't need a license to watch catch-up tv. If they can scare you into paying they will.

          3. Semihere

            Re: Very Wrong.

            Thumbs down all you like, but you could still get molested by 'the man'. In fact, as is pointed out in that link above:

            "Anyone in the UK watching or recording television as it's being broadcast or simulcast on any device - including mobiles, laptops and PCs - must, by law, be covered by a valid TV licence.

            A 'live' TV programme is a programme, which is watched or recorded at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is being broadcast or otherwise distributed to members of the public. As a general rule, if a person is watching a programme on a computer or other device at the same time as it is being shown on TV then the programme is 'live'. This is sometimes known as simulcasting.

            It is a criminal offence to watch 'live' television without a TV licence or to possess or control a device which you know or reasonably believe will be used to watch 'live' TV without a TV licence. You could be prosecuted and fined up to £1000 (plus be ordered to pay legal costs) for these offences."

            Which means that by owning a computer with access to the internet it's 'reasonable' for the licensing officers to assume that it will be used to watch a simulcast such as BBCNews24 or individual programmes like Question Time. It may not seem fair, but I know a few people who have absolutely no TV equipment (or computer equipment... yes, they do exist!) and never have who find themselves constantly harassed by TV licensing because there is no record of a license for their address. It's generally assumed that you WILL watch some live TV in one form or another.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Very Wrong.

              Harassed is one thing - you stated that

              1) " it just needs to have the capability to watch BBC channels"

              2) "owning a computer with an internet connection now REQUIRES you to have a TV licence"

              Neither of which are true.

              If an inspector comes knocking, tell him to sod off and that you are withdrawing any implicit rights for him to come on to your property and any further breach by them or their company will be trespass.

              Any letters you receive just ignore and throw away.

              Unless you do watch or record live/nearly live TV on any device, in which case pay up and buy a licence.

          4. Ian Johnston

            Re: Very Wrong.

            Very, very wrong. You don't need a license to own a computer, or a TV for that matter. You need a licence to use them in order to watch material as it is broadcast, nothing else.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Very Wrong.

              Yes you do, if that device is connected in such as way that it CAN receive a broadcast.

              You could own a PVR but no TV and you would still need a licence if you had it connected to an aerial and power supply. The only way around this is to not have your devices connected if inspectors knocked on your door.

              The BBC simulcast through their website (which is where the iPlayer is also hosted) a number of their channels - BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC News, BBC Parliament, CBBC, CBeebies. These require you to have a TV licence.


              1. Daf L

                @AC 09:18 Re: Very Wrong.

                No you do not - have you read the above posts - look at the one entitled "Anyone for the facts?"

                The fact is, you do not need a TV licence unless you are watching or recording live or nearly live TV. Doesn't matter what equipment you have or what it is capable of. Doesn't matter what the BBC or TV Licensing try to tell you. End of story.

      3. gerryg

        Re: One flaw

        Fail doubleplus

      4. Ian Johnston

        Re: One flaw

        You only need a TV licence if you watch TV content as it's being broadcast. No need at all if you are only watching stuff later on iPlayer - though that is not the impression the TVLA drones will give when they phone you if you don't have a TV licence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One flaw

          "You only need a TV licence if you watch TV content as it's being broadcast. No need at all if you are only watching stuff later on iPlayer"

          But the iPlayer also hosts TV content as it's being broadcast.

    7. dave 93

      Re: One flaw

      This article is BS. Sure, the BBC wants to launch an iTunes like store for paid downloads - so what?

      You already have to pay for BBC shows from iTunes et al, or if you want a DVD copy. One thing you won't pay for is repeats of BBC shows on the iPlayer for a week or so after broadcast, so, no change there then. I wonder if Andrew O. will allow comments again - he doesn't usually.

  2. Eponymous Cowherd

    Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

    That's how the BBC's pro licence ads went, isn't it?

    With commercial stations, the model is as follows:- We make programmes, you pay to watch them (or watch ads).

    With the BBC the model is as follows:- You give us licence money. We use that money to commission / make programmes. You watch those programmes.

    The difference is that unlike programmes made by commercial broadcasters, we, the licence fee payers pay, up front, for the programmes to be made, so for the BBC to attempt to charge us again for those same programmes is unacceptable.

    1. jm83

      Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

      Spot on,

      Its not a business trying to leverage the max profit out of everything.

      For the £10-15 we chip in a month they provide us with a huge amount of content. Simple as that.

      1. pcsupport

        Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

        One of the few sensible answers here.

        For the scrounging, whining, complaining refusnik-bastards who seem to forget that the £10 - £15 per month that the BBC get from us legitimate viewers / listeners also pays for Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 4 extra, 5, 5 extra, 6, local, regional, national and international news reporting, regional BBC radio stations, regional BBC television stations, BBC World Service, iPlayer and much much more...

        And to those idiots who don't realise it - if you watch BBC catchup (i.e. iPlayer) you DO need a TV licence.

        Stop complaining about the price of 3 beers a month, pay up and enjoy the ad-free content.

        1. xyz

          Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

          No you DON'T need a licence if you're just watching iPlayer, you only need a licence to view "live" broadcasts, i.e. stuff that is being sent out to the gen pop at the same time as you are viewing it; read your licence before you type.

          1. Andy ORourke
            Thumb Up

            Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

            Watching TV on the internet You need to be covered by a licence if you watch TV online at the same time as it's being broadcast on conventional TV in the UK or the Channel Islands.

            Video recorders and digital recorders like Sky+ You need a licence if you record TV as it's broadcast, whether that's on a conventional video recorder or digital box.

            Mobile phones A licence covers you to watch TV as it's broadcast on a mobile phone, whether you're at home or out and about.

            P.S. I think this is ANY Television broadcast, not just stuff from the BBC. I think in the olden days that you needed a TV licence if you "had a device capable of recieiving a television signal)

            The law states that you need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorders.

            You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD.

        2. Chris Judd

          Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

          Perhaps before you go on your rant against 'idiots' who think you dont need a license to watch iPlayer... they are actually correct, and you are wrong.

          As has already been mentioned, and can be confirmed with a quick look at the TV licensing site, you only need a license to watch live streams. Catchup TV is exempt.

          Better luck next time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

            You DO need a TV licence to watch some sections of the iPlayer as has also been mentioned. Catchup TV may be exempt, but the iPlayer as a whole is not.

        3. Boothy

          Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

          From the horses mouth:

          Quote: 'Catch-up

          You do not need a television licence to catch-up on television programmes in BBC iPlayer, only when you watch or record at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is being broadcast or otherwise distributed to the public. In BBC iPlayer, this is through the Watch Live simulcast option.'

          So, licence NOT NEEDED to watch iPlayer, unless you select the Live option.

        4. Minophis
          Thumb Down

          Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

          'And to those idiots who don't realise it - if you watch BBC catchup (i.e. iPlayer) you DO need a TV licence.'

          Before accusing others of being idiots it helps to check your facts as you end up coming across as a bit less of a fuckwit.


          Taken from ''

          You don't need a licence if you don't use any of these devices to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV - for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play video games, or you only watch ‘catch up’ services like BBC iPlayer or 4oD.


          I cancelled my TV licence after realising there was nothing I had found that I wanted to watch on TV in the last 2 years. I don't even watch catch-up TV. If the BBC produces a world class ducumentary series that I want then I buy the bloody box set on blu-ray.

          What some people seem to forget is that the BBC also funds itself with plenty of advertising on it's international channels and it's website when viewed from outside the UK as well as it's many cd, dvd, blu-ray sales via it's online store, amazon, etc. However anyone watching live TV in the UK must pay the licence fee or face court appearances and fines even if they never watch or listen to a single BBC channel. The unique way the BBC is funded is extortion.

          The only reason people seem to feel this is OK is because it has been this way since the beginning of TV usage in Britain. Imagine if TV usage in the UK had just started with multiple companies competing for viewing figures. Every company attempts to produce programmes to win viewers and make money via advertising or pay per view services except one. That company istead forces you to pay whether you use it's services or not, it threatens people with fines and has detector vans driving around looking for houses with TV's that have not paid. I don't believe for one moment that such a company would be permitted to operate in that way.

          If the BBC want to advertise or offer pay-per-view services for IPlayer that makes perfect sense but the licence fee is an outdated and deeply unfair system.

        5. Japhy Ryder

          Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

          "If you only watch catch-up services online, then you don’t need a licence. For example, you don’t need one to use BBC iPlayer, or ITV player, to catch up on programmes after they have been shown on TV."

          "You do not need a television licence to catch-up on television programmes in BBC iPlayer"

          If the both the BBC and the TV Licensing authority for the UK, say that you don't need a licence to watch catch-up on iPlayer then they could be right. If you want to watch the simulcast option, you do need a licence.

      2. Furbian

        Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

        Why do I have to pay when I don't actually watch or listen to the 'huge amount of content' they allegedly provide? (Because it demonises the community I am part of and I am in effect paying to have my self denigrated).

        Because if you don't you can end up in jail (if you don't cough up the fine) for watching TV, even if it's not anything the BBC produced.

        So yes I hate it, but have to it, unless I opt for a Taliban style visual entrainment black out.

    2. Wyrdness

      Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

      Agree entirely. However, I do think that it's quite reasonable for the BBC to charge those in other countries, who haven't paid the licence fee, for iPlayer content.

      1. Axel

        Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

        Currently iPlayer doesn't work for me because I'm not in the UK.

        I'd be happy to pay to watch some programmes.

        (An ex-pat living in Canada).

        1. riparian zone

          Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

          Now here's a revenue opportunity. Seems to me that when out of the UK, if you want to watch iplayer other than the worldwide stuff, people should be able to pay for the privilege...register up as non UK watcher, pay a licence fee to watch abroad - make sure that the system uses the download app to ensure registration details. What could go wrong?

    3. Jonathon Green

      Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

      "With commercial stations, the model is as follows:- We make programmes, you pay to watch them (or watch ads)."

      That's a somewhat over-simplified view. The current model as practiced by the likes of Sky, Virgin, and to a much lesser extent BT seems to be more along the lines of...

      "We make a few programs, get exclusive distribution rights for a few more, and buy a lot more off the shelf. You pay a price dictated by a not-particularly transparent charging structure which makes what you pay variable according to whether you're a new or existing customer, what other services you buy from us, and whether you can convince the people on our retention team that you're going to walk unless we give you a better deal and/or throw in a few shiny toys as a sweetener. In exchange we grant you access to a bundle of channels most of which you don't want and will never watch but which make whatever it is we're charging you for the stuff you do want to watch look like better value. We then expect you to watch ads as well.

      To be honest it's the bundling (and hence at least the perception of poor value for money for the specific channels I'd want) both of channels level and additional services ('phone, broadband, mobile, VoD etc) and general lack of transparency in the pricing which has put me off signing up for Sky (we're not served by Bransonvision) and leaves me deeply suspicious of the machinations of Big Media in general, and, BT vision subscription aside, keeps me happy in the comforting embrace of Aunty Beeb with a lot of boxed DVD sets, and a few dodgy torrents and of the stuff I can't get any other way...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Because of the unique way the BBC is funded.....

      "With the BBC the model is as follows:- You give us licence money. We use that money to commission / make programmes. You watch those programmes."

      The commissioning part is the source of the problem. The BBC (that's us) pays the full cost of the commissioned production, yet the <b>independent producer keeps the copyright</b>. We're paying for lots of TV and someone else ends up owning it. If the BBC fixes this absurd anomaly they won't have a problem reshowing the TV we paid for on iPlayer.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Auntie is hardly giving it away

    when you factor in the cost of the tv licence. Time to tie in access to iPlayer via the tv licence number, and if you dont hold a licence then you either pay-per-view or pirate it. The only time I might use iPlayer is if somebody at work raves about a program I've missed, then I'll give it a look to see if it appeals to me, but I certainly wouldn't be doing that if I were to be charged twice and I would be hauling ass towards a torrent/nzb solution. I have absolutely no qualms about freeloading a previously aired tv program as there is no loss to the broadcaster in me doing so.

    1. Bill Fresher

      Re: Auntie is hardly giving it away

      " Time to tie in access to iPlayer via the tv licence number"

      Completely agree with that.

      iPlayer programmes should be free for license fee payers, pay-per-view for everyone else.

      1. Dick Pountain

        Re: Auntie is hardly giving it away

        That's the first sensible suggestion I've seen on this thread. It already works in the magazine and newspaper industries where subscribers get free access to online archive, others pay as they go.

    2. The BigYin

      Re: Auntie is hardly giving it away

      "I have absolutely no qualms about freeloading a previously aired tv program as there is no loss to the broadcaster in me doing so."

      And what about the original content creator?

      Rather than commit copyright infringement, why no get behind other models of delivery. Ones that respect you as a consumer and not treat you like a cash cow/criminal. is one example (they are probably others).

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        And what about the original content creator?

        What about the original content creator? They've most likely been paid a shed load of money already.

        If I download an episode of Up Pompeii, how exactly are the people I'm paying money to going to be able to pass the cash along to Frankie Howard?

        1. cosymart

          Re: And what about the original content creator?

          Presume in the same way that the PRS organisation gives a royalty fee to Mozart and Schubert etc.

    3. Gordon Fecyk
      IT Angle

      How soon before TV licences are pirated, then?

      I see news of MS Windows volume license (US spelling) product keys pilfered and key-generated and so-on fairly routinely. If the Beeb iPlayer was tied into the UK's TV licence system somehow, it wouldn't be long before these licence numbers got pirated.

      1. gerryg

        Re: How soon before TV licences are pirated, then?

        It's also illegal to rob banks and mug people. However I'm still allowed to walk into banks and down the street on the assumption that I'm innocent until proved guilty.

        Criminals will find their way around most things. The complying majority will play by the rules

    4. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

      Re: Auntie is hardly giving it away

      Here hear!

      That is a business model which makes sense.

      Keep the "unique way of funding" from the good, honest stiff upper lipped patriotic Blighty types so that good programming can be bankrolled up front, and allow Johnny Foreigner to cough up for desirable content after the fact.

      Could do wonders for the UK trade figures too.

  4. Sloping Shoulders

    Roll on PVRs

    This would be a substantial shift, and in many ways a tax on the less technically savvy - presently it is easy to catch up on iplayer and the other rival broadcaster online offerings. But equally you could use a PVR, or track down what you need on the internet. By moving to a pay as you consume model on iplayer, those users with PVRs - especially multi-tuner ones with large storage will find iplayer - and the forthcoming YouView plans less appealing - but those viewers who simply consume what there is, and are currently being encouraged to consume over iplayer will be the ones hardest hit.

    Interesting that in the US they get Hulu and other solutions for free - and get some of the best programs where as we get 99% dross and will be asked to pay twice or more..

    A funny side note - I was halfway through reading this when I guessed this must be an Andrew Orlowski article - I do enjoy his writing, even if his style does annoy some others

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Roll on PVRs

      PVRs that permit streaming (including HD) to any content consumer in the house.

      Unfortunately I don't think such beasts exist unless you build it yourself.

      Certainly the V+ and Tivo boxes do not permit streaming. Which is stupid as it means the content infringers provide a better service.

      A note to broadcasters: I have a multitude of screens and content consumers. I pay you for the content - let me consume it.

      A note to Virgin: Telling me your "Catch-up TV" service does not support my OS is cretinous in the extreme. All you do is link to iPlayer etc that work perfectly. And why (even on Windows) does your catch-up service not let me stream the other channels I have paid for?

    2. James Delaney

      Re: Roll on PVRs

      We don't have advertising on the BBC or iPlayer. That's not the same as the US - they make their money from subscriptions (much like the BBC) and advertising revenue/product placement/sponsorship on top.

      PVRs do reduce the need for catch-up services but are going to ultimately be replaced by net-connected streaming services/subscription boxes. They fit a current need one sky and Virgin are pushing but when the publishers realise they can resell or license content using boxes that appear to behave in a similar way they'll push them to the majority instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Roll on PVRs

        Given we're talking about the BBC - the Freeview Humax HDR-T2 is quite capable as a DLNA server as well as DLNA client. Talks to my PS3 and VLC on Linux but seem to be issues getting decent windows PC clients up and running and some limitation on HD content but there are workarounds (

        Think the fact BBC offer (or did) iplayer as a paid service to non-uk areas a bit of an omission - and of course the relationship between BBC and BBC worldwide is a subject in its own right.

        Of course if they do charge for iplayer I'll get a nice big external HDD for the Hummy. I would also complain more about the audio mess up where it pretends it is sending 5.1 stereo on the PS3 messing up anyone using a AV amp (note to the BBC - a response would be nice). Every other video app I've used on the PS3 gets it right although turning off the PS3 audio functions to force stereo could be easier too.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll happily pay for


    and er...

    The problem is how much. Will Eastenders be cheaper because of the larger audience and will I have to pay more to watch a show with a smaller audience

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll happily pay for

      I'd only pay for Horizon if they start putting in some actual science and not padding a half hour program to an hour by filling it with fluff and re-stating everything or dumbing it all down to a level my cat could understand.

      Oh, and if they put the old theme tune back :

      1. Chris 3

        Re: I'll happily pay for

        You should take a look at BBC 4 - some absolutely cracking science documentaries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'll happily pay for

          I see some of them on iPlayer. I have to say that 'Orbit' is fairly bad though I think that's Beeb 2

  6. Tom 15


    Sky and Virgin seem to be doing alright with the bundled approach?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Hmm


      Perhaps it works because it's voluntary, and they bundle in utilities.

      No room for the discussion in my piece, but I see no reason the BBC Media Company could not also offer telephony and broadband, in exchange for a smaller (or no) license fee. It's discrimination not to allow it to do so.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm

        Re-nationalise BT, and merge the two?!

        1. Dick Pountain

          Re: Hmm

          For those old enough to remember, at the time of BT's privatisation it offered to fibre-up the UK out of its own pocket if Thatcher would let it become a content provider - she refused, perhaps because US cable companies were contributing more to Tory funds.

      2. Ian McNee

        Re: Hmm

        Andrew: surely the problem with the BBC (or parts of the BBC) moving towards one of the more commercial models is that the institution is them on the slippery slope to becoming A. N. Other content/service provider. In the current political climate that route may ultimately lead to wholesale privatisation of the BBC.

        Instead the BBC needs to grow a pair and push itself as the excellent public service that it is. We can all find things that we detest about the BBC, whether it is crap shows on BBC 3, Jonathan Ross's (ex-)salary or the occasional office full of Nathan Barleys, but when you look at what the BBC provides in total and how much these services are used by people in Britain and beyond it is not only astonishingly good value it is also widely accessible. Even on a crude TV comparison with the likes of Sky and Virgin Media the BBC wins hands-down on the content it provides at the license fee price point.

        However Ian Bonham's suggestion is interesting - though not going to happen with the current generation of free market politicians squatting on both sides of parliament. Hey-ho!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linking the Two

    Why they can't come up with some method that if you want to use both (watch TV and then use the IPlayer) that you have some kind of online account that you sign in with and pay your TV Licence through it and it allows you to use the IPlayer without having to do PAYG

    Then for those that don't own a TV they could be charged with a PAYG model. I know the freetards wont like this but for those of us that do pay our licence, it saves us having to pay twice.

    Personally I don't mind paying for a licence as it give me access to TV and Radio that doesn't have adverts (and programs that can then use up the full 60 minutes, rather than skip the ads and try to fit a story into 40 minutes) - yes there is a lot of rubbish but you have to cater for everyone

  8. Mr. Fatuous


    Are they repeats if you didn't watch them when aired? I don't use iPlayer to watch something again, I use it to watch things I missed or couldn't record as I was recording something else.

    Should I be charged to watch the same programs as someone else just because I can't watch them at the exact moment the BBC chooses?

    I'd have no problem with them charging to watch whole series at a later date but not for the last 7 days schedule.

    1. D@v3

      Re: Repeats

      not sure how they'd do it, but how about, first view on iPlayer, free, for those (license payers) that missed the broadcast. subsequent views pay-to-view, or pay for series link etc, but also make content that has been paid for available to that user indefinitely.

      I would not be happy being told that not only do I have to pay to watch something again, but that should I want to watch it a third (forth, fifth...) time, that I will have to pay again (and again, and again.....)

  9. MJI Silver badge


    Well I do pay the licence and sometimes wonder if it is worth it. But then we do get as you mention Sherlock, we did get Hustle, Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes, and Doctor Who.

    With non dramas including Top Gear and Horizon I suppose the BBC is still worth having.

    Charging for older IPlayer stuff seems a good idea but not the first week.

    However I wonder if the switch over fund can be used for the Formula 1 fans to pay for their Astra 1 additions to get RTL?

  10. IHateWearingATie
    Thumb Up

    Is Andrew going soft?

    Allowing comments on an article again - so soon after the previous one?

    Anyway, I liked the exploration in the article of the various questions to answer. I suspect that most people would be happy with a middle ground, where the licence fee covers live broadcasts and a catch up service via iPlayer (programme are available for 2 weeks after broadcast for example - yes I know this would differ depending on the ownership of the programme). The Beeb could choose to have some of their flagship programme available for much longer, or have an archive pick available every month, but then have some 'premium' content available to pay for - a red dwarf series for example.

    I suspect if they label things properly (e.g. BBC owned content, 3rd Party Licenced content) so that educates the general punter about what the Beeb do and don't own and why they may be asked to pay for some things and not others, it wouldn't be a bad compromise.

    Oh, and I happily pay my licence fee - Radio 4 is worth the cash alone.

  11. SiempreTuna

    False Dichotomy

    There is no either / or choice of giving content away free to non-license payers pay versus making license payers pay again: it would be trivially easy to make make the service free to license payers and chargeable to non-payers.

    As for the cost of the Beeb: it's a cheap as chips. A fraction of the cost of Sky or Virgin and you get actual programs continually rather than a stream of adverts with occassional program breaks.

  12. Richard 81


    *Assuming we keep the license fee, anyone who pays it should not be charged. Period.

    Anyone else, including those overseas, should be asked to pay a reasonable sum.

    *Should we keep the license fee at all? Difficult question.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i'm happy to pay a license fee...

    Since on average there is enough good TV on the BBC to warrant it for my viewing, or should I say my Sons viewing!

    But I would like full access to the BBC Archive for the license fee!

    but why don't they open it up to non-uk subscribers too, would help reduce the pressure on the UK payers!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Here's craaaazzzyyy idea.

    Free for people that own a TV license (you create an account using the license details), with a restrcition on number of concurrent connects for that account.

    Everyone else in the world pays.

    Now hows that for a wild and outrageous idea!

  15. g e

    " a constitutional obligation to give it all away"

    Well that and the £2BN+ license tax/fee it receives every year, yes.

    You don't **HAVE** to buy that Dad's Army DVD, that, at least you have a choice in.

    BBC1 is just unwatchable for the most part these days with Bellenders and Celebrity Domino toppling, etc. BBC2 has Horizon, Top Gear. BBC3 is more promising as is BBC4 but really. Four channels? Sack the repeats, cut out the bullshit and put everything into BBC1 and BBC2 and maybe they'd be worth 1/2 the license fee.

    If I contrast non-BBC content watched with BBC content and work it out pro-rata vs my SKY subs then SKY looks like great value by comparison, even if I 'forget' to subtract the ADSL and phone first and SKY costs me 4x the BBC tax per month and I can choose not to have it if I want. I still need the TV for the PS3 and XBOX so not like that can be bunged (42" HMDI tunerless monitors are not cheap).

    If they intend to charge for iPlayer it better be outside the UK only. I'm already paying for it and all its content. Surely they could have a £5/month sub to non-UK IP addresses instead, there's revenue in that.

  16. greenfinch

    This would drive me... finally buy a digital PVR device.

    The programs I want to watch from the beeb are rarely on at a time that is convenient for me, and so iPlayer is my method of choice for first time, rather than repeat viewing. If I have to pay per view for this, I would rather shell out a one-off fee for a device that would give the addtional benefit of covering all channels.

    And what about devices? Pay per view via iOS devices would surely attract the 30% cut to Apple, and if via Android Market Place / Google Play would surely need to be paid via the google payment system, as detailed elsewhere in this organ.

    Microsoft points to buy them on xbox? PS Wallet for the PS3/Vita?

    I don't think this has really been thought through....

  17. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    One-off or forever?

    For me it rather depends on what you get for your payment. If it's a license to watch the purchased programme whenever you want with the BBC cloud-hosting it then it make some sense (the Blinkbox-type model, basically buying a virtual DVD that you can stream wherever and whenever you like).

    But if it's pay £0.89 to watch a single episode of Top Gear once (the hotel pay-TV model) then it sucks for the reasons stated that you're paying for something twice for those who've already been mugged for the license fee (and those who've never heard of Dave and can't wait a bit for it to come around again).

  18. Chad H.

    Another argument

    As the BBC is supposedly owned/kept in trust for licence fee payers, don't we already own the content?

  19. dogged
    Thumb Up

    I'd pay for this

    or rather, I'd pay for PAYG access to the BBC's archive.

    The current iPlayer "catch-up" model is fine (from a consumer PoV) and doesn't need updating; shows vanish a week or so after they've finished airing and go into that magical archive. Once there, asking for a small fee to watch anything they've got stashed away seems like a bargain to me.

    1. Jess--

      Re: " a constitutional obligation to give it all away"

      Dont forget that for Sky or Virgin you have to have a tv license because they carry the BBC channels

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " a constitutional obligation to give it all away"

        You need a license to watch any broadcast TV, i.e. Sky1, UK Living, ESPN, not just because Sky and Virgin carry the BBC channels. Don't believe what Alf Garnett (if you're old enough to remember) used to say about not needing a licence if you only watch ITV.

      2. Minophis

        Re: " a constitutional obligation to give it all away"

        Actually you need a licence for Sky or Virgin because it's live TV. The BBC would get their money whether Sky or Virgin carry BBC channels or not.

        People have faced fines and even prison for not paying their licence fee. I don't know of any other company that can have a person fined or imprisoned for not paying when that person has not even used the company's product. It doesn't seem entirely fair.

    2. crowley

      Re: Is Andrew going soft?

      Radio 4 - I second that.

    3. Andy 115

      Re: " a constitutional obligation to give it all away"

      "I still need the TV for the PS3 and XBOX so not like that can be bunged (42" HMDI tunerless monitors are not cheap)."

      That statement implies you have fallen for the TVL snot-o-gram lies.....

      You DO NOT need a TVL simply because you own a device capable of receiving TV broadcasts (or even one tuned into receive them***), you ONLY require it to use that equipment to receive / record those broadcasts AS THEY ARE BEING TRANSMITTED...

      ***some devices will not allow you to use them until the setup / tuning scan has been performed, or you may have tuned the device whilst licensed and subsequently decided you no longer want to "receive / record broadcasts AS THEY ARE BEING TRANSMITTED" and so cancelled your TVL, however there is NO requirement to "de-tune" your equipment (although doing so is a way to demonstrate "compliance")

    4. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Here's craaaazzzyyy idea.

      For my electricity supply I pay a standing charge plus a price for what I actually use. Various combinations of standing charge and meter rates are available.

      The BBC could do the same: it would look somewhat like your proposal.

    5. Petrea Mitchell
      Thumb Up

      Re: Here's craaaazzzyyy idea.

      Plus they could save money on not having to create alternate edits for overseas. (E.g. Top Gear on BBC America is 1 hour with commercials, meaning whole chunks of the show have to be taken out to accomodate them, and if you want to see the show as originally aired in the UK legally, you have to wait for the DVDs.)

  20. Joefish

    This article does seem to skip over one inconvenient counter-argument -

    That when it comes to the BBC, I have already paid a substantial 'subscription' for a 'package' of channels of which I only watch a small selection. If I only paid for the selection of BBC programmes I actually wanted to watch then I suspect they would lose a lot of revenue. Free repeats are the least they can offer me in return for spaffing a chunk of what they've taken on Snooker coverage and Eastenders.

    Now, if they're suffering from those who haven't paid the licence fee freeloading then that's a lockout issue, not a funding issue.

    So, if it's a case of offering paid-for downloads in the same way it offers paid-for DVD collections of programmes, then fine. Though if they're fussing over the original content owners and permissions, then they should be the ones sorting out the DVD/download releases - not the BBC. But if it's about withdrawing iPlayer services back under a paywall, then they can expect some serious backlash.

  21. Brent Longborough

    Cart before Horse -- Meh

    Although the BBC is the "least bad" of a really bad bunch, perhaps it would be a good idea to try and put up something people actually want to watch? Then, later, once they've managed to cross that hurdle, they can start to think about charging. Me, I'm gonna wait sitting down...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    I have a better idea

    How about making it so you enter your TV lic details and then gain access to iplayer. This is better than £1.89 for repeats that will be seen on Dave or the like 5 mins later and lets face it. Nobody will pay £1.89 for a repeat of a TV episode when they know down the line it will be repeated and or can go get the DVD cheaper of fleabay or the like. Now say 10p or the like and people will end up paying for repeats that they watch 2 minutes of as they just wasnted to see one clip of the show. They also wont care as it's 10p, unlike £1.89 which is a measurable percentage of a pint of ale. This as such gets mentaly noted, unlike a smaller amount of the spin on a fruit machine level.

    That all said if they scrap the TV fee then £1.89 is palatable, still wouldn't use it but hey.

  23. Dan 55 Silver badge

    What's the difference between iPlayer and repeats on BBC3/4?

    If we supposed to be paying extra for the 'on-demandness' then people will just record the inevitable repeat on BBC3/4 and watch it when they can next get round to it. Still, at least it'll stop the ISPs complaining.

    And if you have to pay extra for iPlayer/etc then there will be people can quite legitimately argue that they're opt-outing of the TV licence because they're not watching terrestrial telly and only watch the odd episode when they want on iPlayer/etc.

    Auntie Beeb's opening a can of worms here.

  24. Jay 2

    Hmmm, tough one. I wouldn't fancy being hit with a monthly fee, and to a certain extent I wouldn't particularly like to pay a one-off fee for something I've already paid for.

    However I could be tempted if they opened up the archives a bit, and allowed you to download (within the DRM framework of iPlayer Desktop) and also relaxed the time in which you could watch something.

    At the moment I quite like the fact that you can stream and/or download, but the time constraints put on watching can be a bit annoying.

  25. TonyHoyle

    £1.98 per episode.. so half the cost of a film rental.

    No sale.

    Pay as you go TV will only work if it works out about the same as we're paying now. I watch maybe 5 programmes a night, albeit maybe only 1 of those intentionally (*so* hard to find anything worth watching these days). They're saying that's £280 a month's worth of TV? F that. Divide the price by 10 and we'll talk.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    My issue...

    is that the dear Old Beeb (and I Love the Beeb) has in the past years decided quantity over quality. 3 & 4, Radios 5,6,7. What is the reasoning for these? To drive more digital uptake, or as I've heard before "The BBC must compete in a digital arena".

    The BBC has GOT to loose it's focus on having a diverse channel line up. They should pare back to 3 TV channels (1,2,24) and limit the number of radio stations. Radio 7 (now 4+ I think) is just re-hashing old Radio 4 drama and comedy. BBC 3 turns out very little of quality (Snog, Marry, Avoid?). BBC4 turns out some EXCELLENT material (Holy Flying Circus?), but nothing that couldn't be on BBC2 as it used to be.

    If the Corporation was trimmed right back with it's on air line up, and just remained committed to delivering World beating quality television, everything else it generated could be made available on demand, with a PayG structure. Shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who for example are hugely impressive productions. They should be on broadcast TV, as to advertise the BBC production quality. Snog, Marry, Avoid could quite happily be on YouTube or iPlayer and available as a Pay on Demand (although I think it would soon prove unprofitable). Repeats of Sherlock can be on demand on Kangaroo (or whatever it's called now) and you pay for each showing or buy permanent repeat rights. This is no different to what movie studios do now, but the BBC brand attracts attention because of the 'generally' very high quality.

    So in summing up, trim the broadcast TV & Radio line up right back, and push the money into quality. Deliver library content on demand on line, and I think the Beeb will be with for another Hundred years. KBO, and I give it 20 at the best.

  27. Aldous

    and how much will they have to charge to make up the 20 million pissed away on "the voice"

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The beeb engenders loyalty for a couple of reasons:

    I it doesn't require the viewers to watch ads. Many people find advertising to be an ugly, unsophisticated attempt to manipulate them.

    2 it makes stuff that the other s would not, eg most of bbc4

    Personally, I'll pay twice as much for those privileges, bit I'd rather do it all in one go. Paying the license fee is like owNing a big house, you can't be in all of it, but it's nice to have it.

  29. Pete 2

    Choice is the only option

    Right now paying for the Beeb is forced on us - whether a household contains just one person who never watches any BBC content, or if the place houses half a dozen wage-earners who are glued to BBC1, in every room, all the time.

    Isn't it about time there was an "opt out" or PPV - given there is so much more choice of content from so many different providers? Gone are the days when TV listings contained 2 columns: Channel 1 and Channel 9 (at least in the S.E it was Channel 9). Gone too, should be the equally archaic way of financing the state-owned channels.

    It wouldn't be that easy to implement: given that we've on the verge of finishing a generational change in most people's TV technology from analog to digital and the costs would be high. But given the time the beeb and the government takes to decide anything; if they all started right away, they might be ready in 20 years when the public is willing to accept another upheaval in it's sitting-room services. Of course, if the independent channels can't survive the challenge of competing against a service that can broadcast its content for free (i.e. don't have to charge at the point of use, either monetarily a la Sky, or through inconveniencing its audience with advertisement breaks) then the whole question becomes moot,.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes to much choice is a bad thing

    Pay as you go media is good for some but for the large majority a monthly fixed charge for a service will be cheaper - it also gives the media companies’ guarantied income to take risks and not have to worry that one expensive flop puts them out of business. Just look at the Computer Games industry or Film industry of late – remakes and clones abundant.

    To all that thinks they should only pay for what they want to hear or watch and don’t want to subsidies others. Remember without those subsidies the media companies may never make that one great TV show, song or program.

  31. Fatmas

    One way or the other

    I don't mind paying £140 a year (or whatever it is now) to watch BBC channels + iPlayer but they can't have it both ways.

    If they start charging for iPlayer I will just stop using it. I'll either PVR things I want to watch or get hold of it by other means.

    However if they reduced the license fee to about £50 a year and then put a 15 second advert before each iPlayer program, I wouldn't care.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Charge us for content? No problem, but if you are, you've got to drop the license fee altogether.

    You don't buy a CD and then everytime you want to listen to it again, you buy it again. The model suggested is stupid, all it will do is upset the license payer. I am very close to cancelling my TV license and will just watch BBC on iplayer. If the programs aren't available or cost, I'll use download sites.

    If enough people follow this example, cancel the license and only watch BBC on catch up, then the license would fail and the BBC would have to go commercial, which is no loss in my mind. I hate to think my money is going into making an episode of East Enders.

    1. King Jack

      It's already paid for. They used the cash saved from destroying F1 and jumping in bed with $ky.

      No commercial broadcaster would kill their most popular program to buy shit. It must be the unique way the BBC is funded. It means they can do whatever they want.

    2. King Jack

      Re: I have a better idea

      If they did that, they would not be able to ask the TV licence to be extended to the internet. That is the underlying plan. That is why iPlayer is free to use, they are just gathering data on use. Then the Government will grant them the broadband licence, to keep the extortion racket going.

      On that day they will have to send me to jail 'cos i'll never give in to extortion.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear BBC. Just make it so we need to enter our TV license number for access to iPlayer. Got a TV license? We get free access to iPlayer will all the repeats we want. Not paying for a TV license? We can pay-per-view instead, or perhaps for a weekly pass. You don't need anything more complicated than that, nor do you need to pay Crapita a few hundred million to build an authentication and billing 'solution' for you (though the typically shit contractual terms you always seem to sign up to when outsourcing stuff probably means they currently control the TV license database and don't have to give you access to it...)

  34. ElNumbre

    Monthly Contract vs PAYG

    In the 'new' media model, I much prefer to use a monthly contract agreement rather than a PAYG model. Take Spotify - Id rather 'rent' access to a media store such as Spotify than pay per play or even pay to own, ala the iTunes model. Same goes for NetFlix - unlimited* viewing for a set monthly cost.

    I almost certainly don't fancy El Beeb moving to a pay to play model for on-demand content, especially as I 'rent' access to their media feeds (through the TV tax) already. And repeat content is shown so often on the main channels or Dave, that providing you have a DVR, you don't really need iPlayer.

    I personally would have preferred, at the advent of digital broadcasting, that they invested in encryption to move from a 'tax' model to a subscription model. Those who wanted the BBC would have paid, and Capita wouldn't have to chase those who didn't. Sure, it would have probably meant that there wouldn't be 10 BBC tv channels and umpteen radio services, but it may have forced Auntie to concentrate on a few services of really decent quality programming, rather than the blunderbuss approach which they currently seem to use.

  35. Andy 97
    Thumb Up

    I'm all for this.

    The method of delivery has changed, but people still need paying.

    Content owners need to be paid for their investment, just look at it as hiring a DVD or paying $ky for one of their movies on demand.

    The BBC sells DVD box sets of DR Who and people buy them, what's the beef with charging a nominal fee for an episode of something made by Tiger Aspect or All 3 Media?

    If The BBC get this one sorted out now, it could mean they become a fair alternative to other publisher's platforms.

    If it means no commercials - sign me up doc!

  36. Magnus_Pym

    Blown to Bits - Oh god

    "The net has exploded the myth that we'll pay for something even if we don't use it"

    Except for Broadband provision. Yes, there are different prices based on what we think we need but we still pay the same even if we don't use it. In fact if we try to use all that we paid for we can get capped for unfair use. Also Car Insurance, Council provided social services, NHS when not ill, police who don't respond, Train subsidies, Politicians G&T's at the House of Commons. etc.

    P.S. Anyone else still have bad dreams about the seminal work 'Blown to Bits' (Evans.P, Wurster) I was forced to read it for my degree course. The information was good but my good did you have to work to get at.

  37. Ian 62

    Micropayment..and I do MEAN micro

    If it was 10pence to stream a show, I'd probably not blink.

    But £1.89 to watch something I'd missed on the evening it was broadcast? I dont think so.

    You said it yourself, its what? A fiver for a month of netflix? So why would I pay £1.89 for one one-hour show? A month of catching up on a soap you missed would be 20+ pounds?

    Dial down that fee and we can start talking.

  38. skipper
    Thumb Down

    Domestic commercialisation

    As soon as the BBC starts charging all domestic/UK viewers for some of its programming I'd think that any argument for retaining the TV license would start evaporating. Meaning that it would eventually just become like any other commercial broadcaster. Which it needs to avoid if it wants to be able to differentiate from the others.

    Whilst I have no problem with the BBC attempting to charge those UK customers that use iPlayer but don't have a TV license, I'd be suprised if they'd actually get any return for the effort involved.

  39. squilookle

    I only use IPlayer to watch the odd episode of Top Gear if I miss it. Since I got a DVR, Netflix and other video on demand options have become available, I have used on iPlayer less and less.

    Infact, I used to watch it on my Wii, but I have moved the Wii into the other room so I can watch Netflix in there too, which leaves me with no devices connected to my living room television that play iPlayer until it finally appears on the 360. I can still watch it, but it means either going to the other room or dragging the Wii or the laptop through, and that's too much effort.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Charging for contemporary delivery?

    The Internet is forcing many businesses to change, and TV is a prime example. The idea that something is 'broadcast' at a very specific time, for example, has to change. That was the only reasonable approach in the past, but we've moved on. I don't watch 'TV' anymore in the sense that I only watch productions when I have the time to do so. iPlayer fits that well - I have reasonable latitude to pick a time and place that suits me, and the Internet makes that arrangement practical.

    Over time, I expect that the conventional TV delivery model will fade away. But why should that mean we pay twice? If it's outside a specified envelope, e.g. a week, then I can understand why an addition fee could be imposed. But the iPlayer model is simply a step toward the way all productions will be delivered, and we already pay for that.

  41. Eddie Edwards

    *cough* Sky?

    "The net has exploded the myth that we'll pay for something even if we don't use it. ... The bundle has been blown apart. We've entered the pay-as-you-go era of media consumption."

    This must be why Sky is doing so badly, with its bundle-based menu of chunks you have to buy in order to see one program you like. Yup, no one is using Sky any more. Poor old Murdoch. His mythical business with profits of £1bn from 10m households has been exploded by the internet.

    1. Pete 2

      Too expensive

      > just look at it as hiring a DVD

      And that just about sets the price level. Looking at the through-the-mail DVD rental offers, it seesm that 6 quid will get you 3 DVDs a month. Each DVD of a TV series contains 3 or 4 episodes of 1 hour each.

      So, totalling it all up, it seems that of those who are willing to pay, the going rate is 3 DVDs * 3 episodes for £6, or about 70p per ep.

      Obviously that includes postage both ways, handling and the other overheads - and I'm sure a VoD alternative has its overheads, too. However if that's the commercial rate that people pay, then any more is either out of touch or taking the mick.

  42. User Removerd

    As long as this an add on service, i.e. current model remains with aired show available for free for a week, I see no issue in the BBC opening up it'd back catalogue to pay per view. There's a whole host of show's I'd happily watch (and pay to do so)

  43. Jonathan 29

    How much?

    I would tolerate adverts, kind of like an interactive version of Dave online, but I wouldn't pay. Also, I don't understand the whole 7 day limit. Can't they just change the contracts to allow repeated showings forever like 4OD do.

  44. censored

    It's not £20 a month...

    My licence fee is £12.12 per month on Direct Debit. So, slightly more than Spotify for original content which often can't come from anywhere else and is considerably more expensive to produce. In other words, if you only watched Sherlock, you still paid less than the DVD box set for it.

    I agree with the central thrust of the article: that charging for iPlayer is problematic. I can record a show to my TiVo and keep it as long as I like. But I can't download from iPlayer and keep it more than 30 days, and downloading that same show via BitTorrent and keeping it as long as I like is illegal.

    These are things that need to be sorted out. But the answer should be a £20 all the BBC you can eat, from any source you like, not paying a quid a show.

  45. Magnus_Pym

    Totally homogenous TV treacle

    I for one look forward to the days when the BBC looks and feels exactly the same as all the other channels whose only motivation is to deliver our eyes and ears to the highest bidding advertiser. I might be worth it but they certainly aren't.

    The reason for the license fee rather than central taxation is to take control out of the hands of the Government. Even so they now treat it as part of the general tax revenue and rip it off to pay for vanity projects like broadband rollout. I don't remember it being called 'TV and Broadband license' last time I brought it.

    The Government should fund the BBC properly and leave them to get on with it I say.

  46. Andrew Martin 1

    Not so big a shift, but a big one coming

    The BBC has been flogging tapes, CDs, DVDs, and the like for years, of any series they though they could sell Making the back catalogue available for download or streaming for a fee is just a shift of format.

    That said, there is something quite curious about having the current content available for free (funded by subscription from those who choose to watch 'live') whilst making the back catalogue available by essentially the same means, but in return for a fee. It doesn't sound like a terribly sustainable way around to do things.

  47. Frederic Bloggs
    Paris Hilton

    Er.. I don't know whether anyone has noticed...

    But those of us who have a real TV pay the BBC, via the government, ~£12.12 / month to watch/listen to the output. This is not unadjacent to the cost of a basic package from one of the major "pay" TV suppliers.

    It *is* pay TV/Radio. The only real difference is the method of collection and who gets to pay.

  48. David Evans

    There's a big enough overseas market... allow services to remain "free" for UK licence payers. If the beeb charged the same as Netflix for iPlayer, they'd get a lot of traction outside the UK, especially if its a sub-tenner "all you can eat" flat fee. Just like Netflix however, it needs to ubiquitous across PC, mobile and TV; none of this Apple-only crap they're currently pedalling. I was very very negative about Netflix when it launched over here, but despite a lack of content relative the US version, the sheer convienience and usability of the service has won me over.

    The other win for the beeb would be to wholesale iPlayer internationally to allow bundling deals with ISPs and service providers (except in net neutral America of course) to pass on iPlayer "for free" to their customers.

  49. Nick Thompson

    A large part of what the BBC is about is to inform and educate. The issue is that most people do not want to be informed or educated (and especially not pay for it), however having an informed and educated population (or at least having a subset which are) improves the quality of life for EVERYONE.

    To give an example: A series of programmes on biology will help get a small number of people interested in medical sciences who then go on to produce products which help many people. These programmes benefit everyone even if they do not watch it themselves and therefore it is only fair for them to be paid for by everyone (either a licence fee, or via taxation).

    If you move to a pay as you go approach the BBC will be at a disadvantage if they need to continue subsidising educational content from popular shows and we risk losing them. If that happens then everyone loses out, although many people will not realise it until we suddenly need the next generation of scientists and they aren't there.

    There could of course be some sort of compromise with entertainment and sports pay as you go, and educational content funded through taxation. (Just so long as there's no bloody adverts, hate the things!).

  50. Roger Jenkins


    How's this for consideration. If the Beeb produce it then it's already bought and paid for so is free on iPlayer, if the programme was produced by outsiders and the broadcast rights sold to the Beeb then they charge for it.

    So, you end up with a model where, some stuff are freebies and other stuff are commercial and is paid for.

    Mind you, that doesn't give the Beeb much incentive to produce 'home grown' stuff does it.

    1. TimNevins


      "A series of programmes on biology will help get a small number of people interested in medical sciences who then go on to produce products which help many people."

      I find the above to be highly dubious.

      So there was no such thing as doctors in the UK pre-BBC or anywhere else in the world where there is no Beeb.

      People have always been interested in biology and the effect by the Beeb is negligible.

      The Discovery Channel is not a BEEB tool.Seems to be doing fine.

  51. Audrey S. Thackeray

    I still think the BBC is better value than any of the other pay TV / radio services. It's better than other national broadcasters too - priced mid way between the licence fees of France and Germany but with superior output to either.

    So I'm happy with the current funding setup. I do buy the occasional BBC DVD so I suppose I might pay for some of the watch-again type services although it doesn't quite feel right.

  52. Maldax

    Is the solution not easy?

    Surely if the BBC wants to cash in on all it's old content then let it. It can quite easily charge the rest of the world to access content on the iplayer by subscription or PPV models. I am sure there is a huge audience out there that would pay for full access to BBC content that have not already paid for it

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Charged twice? Make that 3 times if you are unfortunate enough to the on the wrong side of the BTw created digital divide on a market one exchange where it may be too easy to find yourself breaching the lower data allowances that ISP's habitualy offer on those old tech exchanges that BTw have bypassed in the WBC/FTTx roll out.

    Add to this the fact that WE PAID to develop the software too...

    It was bad enough when BBC sold out the F1 fans in its dirty behind closed doors deal with Sky, Are they now busy trying to emulate the Dirty Digger by charging as often as possible for stuff - In that I refer to the vast amount of repeat material on the Sky controlled transponders.

    If this is the way it is going then the BBC MUST forfeit the right to tax us on TV ownership.

  54. Piloti

    I travel a lot for work and often do not get to watch the BBC 'real time' as I would like. I do listen to BBC World Service and down load a lot of podcasts. The BBC produces some of the best content I know of. And given that much of my work has taken me to most places in Africa and Europe, I am proud of what the BBC does.

    But, my problem has been accessing the I-Player from outside the UK. Yes I can use a proxy, but most of the time I do not. But I do have a TV Licence.

    So, this is what I have come up with as an idea.

    The BBC I player becomes a hub into which I 'log in', my username and password being my TV licences references. If I want to watch something I can log in and watch, even when I am abroad. If I want to watch the 'archive' I would pay a nominal fee, say £5.00 / month. If However, I am not a UK Licence payer, then I pay the 'going rate' for this content, say £10.00 / month, using the 'Dad's Army' DVD argument above. Yes, there will be some issues around 'copied' references, but as the Licence fee is annual, a licences will time expire. There could also be a 'one session at a time' thing, where log in and out, but once logged in, only I can log in. I have to log out to let me wife watch 'on line'. This would also not interfere with the I-Player at home as this would be through a UK ISP so would / could be treated as simply 'watching at home', so no duplication issues.

    For this, yes, I would happily pay a fiver a month.

  55. Gio

    A mix

    A good option would be to allow recent programmes to be viewed for free on iPlayer (say for 14 days after first being shown), and then charge for older archived programmes.

  56. Jon Smit

    iPlayer PITA

    I don't know why the Beeb wanted the iPlayer. It's only there for idiots who find recording a tv programme beyond their capabilities.

    Some ISP's have been overloading by the extensive use of iPlayer and it's cost them a lot of money to upgrade their hardware. I'd not be surprised if they don't ask for a share in the revenue - which will raise the question of net neutrality.

  57. captain veg

    Awkward facts

    > This leaves the BBC in quite an awkward position, for what was once a unique form of funding has become a unique handicap, an anachronism.

    Hardly unique, just un-American. Just about the entirety of Europe operates similar regimes. In fact, among economically developed countries, the USA is the odd one out here. But of course, they invented television. Or was that the licence-funded BBC?

    > Thanks to the internet, and the ever-increasing demand for English language products, shows like Sherlock are no longer a parochial English pleasure.

    Can you substantiate the assertion implied there, that people whose mother tongue is not English are increasingly seeking English-language television? I rather doubt that you can, given the endless quantity of dubbed material found across the non-Anglophone world's TV. The Beeb is able to widely and profitably sell its product abroad because of the quality -- which stems from its charter and licence fee model -- rather than the language.


  58. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Implementation details are key

    This is a very good idea... IF it is implemented properly.

    BBC Worldwide already sell DVDs of popular series, but it is not worthwhile them doing so if not many people will buy them. This changes with online distribution, so those series which would never have made it to DVD could be made available for download, a win for the consumer.

    Also, will the media be made available to "buy" (i.e. keep and own forever), "rent" (view once), or both at different price points? I hope the third option. There are many "old" BBC shows which never made it to DVD which I would be willing to pay a decent amount for to buy, but would not pay to rent, yet there are some I just want to catch up on, so view once, and wouldn't pay "buy" prices for them.

    I would also say they should restrict the "free" iPlayer to those with a TV license, but allow non-license-holders access to the content for a fee. It's not really fair to license holders that those who don't pay can use iPlayer top view the programmes a few hours later.

  59. Gizzit101

    Looking at...

    ...the source article, the proposal is "download to own", so as pointed out, it's just like buying DVDs without the physical media.

    I have no problems with this, provided I don't have to buy it again when I buy a new laptop. Either flag it as perpetually mine, or allow me to make a personal archive copy.

    If anything is for sale, and I cannot afford it, or do not think it is worth the price asked, then I do without it.

  60. Arrrggghh-otron


    £1.89 sounds a bit steep...

    If for some reason you wanted to watch a whole series of Top Gear again, 8 episodes at £1.89 is £15.12. For something you won't own, or be able to watch again (ok I think Top Gear was a bad example. I really can't imagine watching it more than once but you get the point).

    For something I won't ever own, that has already been broadcast the cost should be negligible.

    1. Citizen Kaned

      Re: iPlayer PITA

      or when your PVR doesnt record for some reason. or when you miss something and only find out the next day. or when you cant record that 4th program. or the fact we paid for the programmes in the first place

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jon Smit

      you sir are a Troll, and I claim my $5

  61. Timbo

    More income to help pay the celebs ?

    example #1: I "pay upfront" to buy a CD or a film on DVD. I have no choice in this, unless I illegally download from the 'net - and I can watch them at any time I like - I don't have to have been to see the band play or go to the cinema.

    example #2: I "pay upfront" to use my TV in the UK to receive broadcasts - whether they are from BBC, ITV or anyone else. I have no choice in this, if I want to watch ANY TV.

    The licence fee funds the BBC and the programs it makes or commissions. As licence fee payers have "paid" for these programs already, then they should be available for free, unless one chooses to buy them on a different form of media.

    If people outside UK want to use iPlayer then a charging model sounds reasonable. After all, overseas people didn't fund the creation of the programs. But charging UK residents for use of iPlayer is quite wrong and seems to be just another way for the BBC to earn extra revenue.

    The question then is: would this extra income be used to subsidise the TV Licence fee - perhaps, even reduce it at some point - or is it just a case of the BBC accountants looking for additional income streams at relatively low cost (apart from a server farm and lots of HDD space to put all these programs on - but then they already have that and we've already paid for that too....).

    And ultimately, do we get more quality programs (from this extra income) or just more dross - I'm so sick and tired of all these reality / talent programs featuring 3rd grade celebs....

  62. GettinSadda

    £1.89 each - really?

    That sounds a bit steep per episode!

    I went to Amazon and searched for BBC series box sets at random and the first I found was something called "Playing the Field" - not sure I have ever heard of it and not my sort of thing I'm sure! However, seasons 1 and 2 (13 episodes in total) for £4.99. That works out at £0.38 per episode. Watching this on the iPlayer would cost £24.57 - and then I dare say the same again if I want to watch them again.

    1. Euchrid

      Re: £1.89 each - really?

      My first thought but according to the article that Andrew linked to, the £1.89 figure was for download-to-own, rather than a one-watch deal.

      Although I suspect that in the vast majority of cases it would be cheaper to buy the boxset if you want the whole thing (and the examples you gave illustrate this well), if someone just wanted the odd episode then this could a convenient way. Alternatively, if you've heard something is good, but haven't seen and it's difficult to get a taste, it could be a good way to try before you buy.

      What I would be most interested in is stuff in the BBC archives that is unlikely to ever to be released on physical media. Play For Today is before my time but I'd love to be able to see it - only a fraction of it has been released on DVD, but if it was available in this way, I bet there would be more than a few that would be only too wiling to pay £1.89 per episode.

  63. Robert E A Harvey

    good idea, bad price

    I'd pay 25-30p for an hour's television, not a peculiar amount like that.

  64. anoniemouse1

    The BBC have to understand they can't have their cake & eat it, if they want to be funded by the tv license then they can't very well charge PAYG its a case of one or the other.

    The only way to change that is ditch the tv license & rely on advertising or subscription to survive.

  65. walatam

    The corporation's strongest argument is one it has some trepidation in using

    "The corporation's strongest argument is one it has some trepidation in using. The BBC can argue that revenue raised through on-demand iPlayer repeats is much, much fairer and more progressive than its primary (regressive) revenue stream today."

    I love the argument that you should only pay for what you watch - it completely glosses over the idea that we all contribute for the overall good of the many (this whole "community" thing, y'know. ).

    I'd like to only pay for what I watch on Sky but cannot, I have to buy the whole "bundle" - if I want to watch Rugby Union then I have to have the sports channels even though I do not watch football. I am, therefore, paying more for my product then the many that do watch football on Sky. I demand a refund and that those watching football be forced to pay 5 times as much as me.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't they already do this?

    Via iTunes?

    It would make sense for iPlayer to be linked to TV license.

    As long as there are workable apps for all the various platforms.

    The black and white license could be used to provide a "lite" service

    (e.g. a lite service might be limited to 2 programs being stored with a timeout of a week on one device, as opposed to a month timeout and unlimited programs and several devices for the full version.)

    I don't buy a license, and only use catch up.

    I used to buy a mono license (not that I legally needed it), but it became too difficult after they stopped using the post office, and the rude letters from the licensing authorities made me decide it wasn't worth the bother of even trying.

  67. dave 93

    €5 a month for the Gobal iPlayer is a bargain you can't get in the UK

    Plenty enough BBC for me, and the radio is still free.

    The idea of charging for repeats is stupid, and I suspect Mr Orlovski just made it up for dramatic effect. Charging for new stuff maybe. I expect the BBC will move toward a subscription model to replace the lost licence fee revenue, but just for non-UK customers - i.e. the other 99% of the world.

    1. Citizen Kaned

      Re: €5 a month for the Gobal iPlayer is a bargain you can't get in the UK

      but surely then all the UK people will refuse to pay 140/yr BBC tax. and radio isnt free. we pay for it from TV tax. which then gets delivered free to the rest of the world. somehow we are getting screwed

  68. Matthew 3

    Could be a good idea

    At the moment the iPlayer is limited to IP addresses that appear to originate in the UK (forcing people like me to use a VPN when travelling...)

    There are plenty of people out there who would like to watch iPlayer content and, because they don't pay the licence fee and aren't in the UK, can't watch it. Why not let the Beeb earn a few quid selling programmes abroad via the iPlayer?

    Also, since the iPlayer only offers content for a limited time, it's no bad thing to pay to see something you'd otherwise have to miss. After all you don't have to pay for it.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting pricing structure.

    Let's see, films currently on iplayer, I'll check three at random.

    First Knight: £1.45 DVD on Amazon including delivery

    Tormented: £1.32 DVD on Amazon including delivery

    In Search Of The Castaways: £3.25 DVD on Amazon including delivery

    £1.89 every time you watch something is looking like a bad deal.

    1. Ian Johnston
      Thumb Down

      Re: Could be a good idea

      In most cases the BBC does not own the overseas rights, so "earning a few quid by selling them on iPlayer" is simply not an option. The overseas broadcasters from whom the BBC has already earned many, many quid would be rightly pissed off if they tried.

  70. Dr_Barnowl

    I find the BBC totally worth it - just the fact that it's present forces all the commercial broadcasters in this country to raise their game. Without the BBC we would be facing the same miserable morass of commercial programming and an average of 18 minutes of advertisements per hour, as there is in the USA.

    Turn it on it's head ; what if the USA had something like the BBC? Content costs the same no matter how many people are watching it ; therefore the more people watch it, the better cost / benefit ratio it has. Imagine what the BBC could do with the license fees of a population of 300 million people, versus their current 60 million.

    That said, I think they should focus less on following the trends of the commercial broadcasters and get back to what they do best ; producing world class programming through experimentation.

    As for paying for iPlayer ; I would imagine that both the commercial broadcasters and the ISPs would be ecstatic - the commercial broadcasters will cease to have online competition, and the ISPs will see their networks much less utilised. I'd be happy enough to see them permitting paid iPlayer access abroad, but as a license payer, I paid for that content already. I guess I'll just keep using my excellent MythTV PVR (with three Freeview tuners, I only need online players when I miss the first few episodes of a promising series).

    1. King Jack


      Why then did the BBC shell out £20 million for 'The Voice'? (another singing contest, like the X Factor). It seems to me they are hell bent on copying ITV. I say let them copy ITV and that includes the way they get their money.

    2. Petrea Mitchell

      But we do!

      "Turn it on it's head ; what if the USA had something like the BBC?"

      It's called PBS. It gets about half its money from the US government, the other half from sponsors. Other than quick sponsor mentions before the start of a show, there are no commercials, and as for BBC-like programming-- it brought us a whole lot of *actual* BBC programming back in the day. Any BBC show which had a pre-mainstream-Internet fanbase in the US had it because of PBS.

      Even with the Internet and BBC America in existence, PBS is still showing some BBC material-- Downton Abbey being the big name of the moment.

  71. Jinxter

    Comparative costs

    Out of interest... how much does your standard freeview recorder cost?

    Given the choice of payPerView or a one off cost of a freeview recorder to capture those few episodes\series that I like to watch but I'm not around for I suspect I would make an investment in the freeview recorder.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ The Bigyin

    "I have absolutely no qualms about freeloading a previously aired tv program as there is no loss to the broadcaster in me doing so."

    And what about the original content creator?

    What about him? He's been paid for his creativity whether I watch the program as it's broadcast on a Monday or via a torrented download on the following Wednesday. Please explain how he's losing out.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not....

    If you have a TV license, you get access to the content, if you dont, you pay per episode. Then, people who dont watch much (and dont have a TV), pay for what they want, people who do, get everything.

  74. ForthIsNotDead

    What's the problem?

    You go to HMV or online to Amazon and you don't bat a *single eyelid* about buying a Dr. Who DVD for 12.99 or whatever.

    So, what is the big moral objection and indignation at paying to watch something online? It's the same thing! One comes in a nice shiny jewel case, the other comes down the wires.

    Why do people have no objection paying for one thing, but not the other? It's just irrational!

    1. Andy 115

      Re: What's the problem?

      Do you destroy the DVD from HMV or amazon after watching it once?

      Do you go out and buy it 2,3,4 more times for each subsequent time you want to view it?

      Thought not....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the problem?

      Personally I bat *both eyelids* and walk away without the DVD.

      It's either one or the other. I pay the TV license and am allowed to watch iPlayer, or I don't and I'm not. At the moment I'm paying my TV license for no (legal) reason as I never watch live. I only pay it because I feel morally obliged. And if times get harder I may have to balance my moral obligation and stop paying.

      Personally I don't think it's right that you don't need a license to watch iPlayer. But I'm buggered if I'm going to pay a potentially unlimited amount- easily reaching more than £12 per WEEK instead of £12 per month- just to watch the same content, slightly time-shifted. If it becomes my only option then I'll just start downloading it all illegally. I don't in any way suggest that'd be the "right" thing to do, but I'd be doing it anyway.

  75. Irongut

    The BBC can charge me for iPlayer the day they stop forcing me to pay a licence fee just to own a TV.

    I think the only thing I've ever watched on iPlayer is Irish Road Racing and I only watch that because it's only broadcasted on BBC Northern Ireland. The few programmes that I actually watch they repeat constantly anyway.

    1. Andy 115

      Another victim...

      You sound like you have fallen victim to the lies in the TVL snot-o-grams...

      you do not require a license to "own" a TV (or recording other receiving equipment), you only require it to watch or record live broadcasts as they are being transmitted.

      Technically, a (previously licensed) receiver can remain tuned in, so long as you are not using it to watch or record the aforementioned, a license is NOT required...

  76. Bryan Hall

    F1 and Top Gear on the BBC

    I'm all for it! Please do this.

    Being in the US, I would definitely be willing to pay-per-view (if you will) for both online F1 coverage and Top Gear UK, and occasionally news coverage. Maybe with this model change they could even carry the entire season, again, next year. I don't see Sky doing this - and I really dread having to watch racing interrupted by long commercial breaks (on a cable service you have to PAY for) - with commentators who generally have no clue about what is going on. More than likely I will just wait for a torrent instead of having to put myself through that pain.

    As it is now, although I would send something to the BBC so I can legally watch both of these live on the iPlayer - but there is no way to do so. Now when I pay for this, I will expect a good quality feed - as glitch free as possible.

    1. El Andy

      Re: F1 and Top Gear on the BBC

      That's exactly what Sky do offer. F1 racing without any adverts and with most of the team who've been on F1 for years (Brundle et al). And a whole bunch of online stuff too.

  77. The BigYin

    Thinking about this...

    ...I find myself in the depressing position of some agreement with Andrew. Two things worry me about the pay-as-you-go model, and they are strongly coupled:

    1) Pursuing popular (and thus revenue) replaces quality. Just because something is popular does not make it any good (for example, Budweiser is popular). This would be the end of various public service and minor language. broadcasts

    2) Continued dumbing-down. Horizon (which one other commentard mentions) is now so lacklustre is barely takes any effort to watch. Would pay-as-you-go lead to an improvement? Hardly. Just look at the likes of National Geographic, this once hard-hitting and thought provoking organisation is now reduced to showing clap-trap about ghosts and other fictions just to bring in the eyeballs.

    So how does one get a fair pay model and yet keep the public service requirement. Preferably without having to watch bloody adverts! Hmm...maybe that's the reason I appear to have around 300 DVDs....

    1. Jonathan Samuels

      Re: Thinking about this...

      The BBC is a subsidy by the stupid to the intelligent which as wealth distribution goes isnt so bad.

      What the BBC shouldnt be doing is getting into bidding wars for any sport F1, Tennis, Football anything

  78. ScottishYorkshireMan

    It seems that we weren't actually meant to use iPlayer

    Having read this post and also the one where the politician moots licencing PC's (that could only come from a politician) it actually sounds to me like iPlayer wasn't created to actually be used. Now that it is being used, and used to some length by the sound of it, it seems to have become a problem.

    Let's get a playing field level first of all, Virgin is a supplier of media services, it isn't a broadcaster in the sense that the BBC is, for that matter, neither is Sky, although Virgin once held a holding in a company called Crown Castle IIRC and they were responsible for the UK channels, (Gold, Living etc) Sky does have it's own channels and it finances some of its own material but essentially is a media provider. So, I think compairing the BBC, to Sky and VM is not really apples with apples.

    So, I have to ask the question, was iPlayer actually meant to be used?, as it seems to have become such a success it is now considered that it's worth monetizing something that has already been paid for by those who would be expected to monetize it again and again.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USA here

    I live in a small town, and our cable company doesn't get BBC America. I'd gladly pay for IPlayer access, instead of being a scurvy pirate like I am now. I quit pirating most stuff because I can get it streaming on Netflix now. Netflix has a pretty decent back catalog of BBC content, but nothing recent. If I want to get my Sherlock, Dr Who, Topgear, QI, I have to go extra legal. By the way, my mother in law gets BBC America, and they chop the shows to fit in ads.

  80. ACZ

    Absolute bullet in the foot if done via iPlayer

    I think that the comments about pay-per-view weakening the case for the license fee are extremely valid. I'm sympathetic to the BBC's desire to get an additional revenue stream from pay-per-view, but really do wonder how they can achieve that via iPlayer.

    What's the problem? Well, as I understand it (and I could be very wrong - this is just going from my recollections of previous media discussions about BBC commercial activities), the BBC is legally required to do all of its commercialisation via a separate commercial arm - BBC Worldwide Ltd. That ensures that the commercial marketplace for products is not skewed in the BBC's favour, and ensures that it does not use license fee money (which it presumably spends an awful lot of on iPlayer) to disadvantage competitors (e.g. subscription services). If the BBC starts charging for TV programs via iPlayer then you can guarantee that Sky, Virgin etc. will complain that license fee money (spent on the iPlayer platform) is being used to compete with them for online services such as viewing old shows etc.

    It might be that the forthcoming YouView platform will allow the BBC (or maybe BBC Worldwide) to provide pay-per-view as e.g. "BBC pay-per-view", *totally* separate from the main BBC iPlayer service and so not breach its legal obligations.

    However, the main thing seems to be that the BBC needs to be able to license content so that it can be distributed online very shortly after broadcast, instead of e.g. having to wait for DVD box sets to be released etc. That sounds like more of a commercial issue with rights holders than a fundamental issue with whether or not the BBC (in whatever guise) can offer pay-per-view.

    Have a look on LoveFilm and NetFlix - the TV show content is somewhat limited, and they would presumably love to get their hands on more recent shows, subject to the price being right.

    Simplest and safest thing for the BBC is to sort out licensing so that programs can be licensed at reasonable rates for online distribution very shortly after broadcast, and for the BBC *not* to offer those online commercial services themselves as doing so would just threaten the license fee.

    Last thing - who on earth is going to pay £1.89 for a show?! 10p maybe, but at that kind of price it's a total no-go. To work, it has to be commercially attractive to punters.

  81. Bristol Dave

    The net has exploded the myth that we'll pay for something even if we don't use it

    It's also exploded the myth that people would have paid for something if they couldn't get it for free (a myth that is still perpetuated by the ridiculous "Piracy costs the industry £x million a year" propaganda).

    I think people being asked to pay again to watch something they've already paid for will resort in a lot of people turning to torrents.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or just... the show from any one of lots of other places. For free.

    I do worry that they might go under if people do this - obviously the license fee only goes so far. Ahem.

    Or just don't watch it. Let's be honest, about the ONLY thing that's even vaguely decent on the BBC are the natural world docs. There are no proper investigative journo docs any more.

    Crap that I for one am not willing to pay any extra for. Not when I already pay a license fee. For God knows what reason.

  83. ph0b0s

    Doubly screwed

    If the BBC wanted to do this with a view of reducing the license tax with these extra proceeds, I would support it. My fear is that the license tax will remain and go up and while you have to pay to watch programs you already contributed to the making of through the tax.

    As someone who would not miss the loss of access to 'BBC' services I would be happy to pay for just the BBC services I wanted to watch / listen to. Not a fan of 'Sherlock', 'Dr Who' or any other of the amazing programs the BBC make. My problem is I do consume commercial services that are also mean having to pay the BBC tax.

    To me you either have one method of funding or the other (tax or pay as you or), not both. Both just means that they get to charge multiple times for the same thing and the first time you had not choice in the matter. You get doubly screwed....

  84. ph0b0s

    Does not make sense

    "For much of its history, the BBC attracted the best talent, groomed it, and focussed it. Sherlock is a rare example of the BBC making TV that's popular and stunning - it concentrates some CERN-like talent on a show. "

    If the BBC "attracted the best talent, groomed it, and focussed it.", then examples "of the BBC making TV that's popular and stunning" would not be "rare", but common surely?

    The point of one sentence gets contradicted by point of the following one.....

  85. Amonymous Ocward

    delivery charge

    Dont market it as paying for a program, market it as paying for content delivery, servers, archive upkeep, forward investment.

    Want to view it straight away (live)? Covered in license fee. Perhaps even make 'live' within 2 weeks of first showing.

    Want to view it a month later? 10p to have it accessible as much as you like. No license fee required.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazing ignorance

    The punditry from people who can't be bothered to look up facts on here is staggering.

    The BBC licence fee is the world's cheapest legal access to broadcast content.

    The BBC is the unchallenged doyen of public service broadcasters, despite having only political enemies (no allies), senior management with suicidal tendencies in negotiations and a workforce that is drastically underpaid. (Median pay has fallen 8% behind inflation in the last five years.) A combination of BBC management and political enemies ensures, for example, that broadcasting on non-BBC media is PAID FOR BY THE BBC (the exact opposite of any rational model of programme rights purchase), while being forced to purchase content from bloated production companies that have guaranteed access to BBC broadcast media.

    Anyone who proposes that we need some kind of US model of broadcasting is like, er, someone proposing that the way to cure unemployment and boost the balance of payments is to cut payments to people dependent on social security in the belief that it will encourage them to find work, while increasing tax breaks for those that stash their spare savings offshore. Oh, wait a moment,.....

  87. Aitor 1 Silver badge


    1,8*3*7*4=151. that is the amount they think woukd be "fair" for a normal user (not me) to pay for reruns.

    I guess their idea of "fair" is not so... fair?

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bugger it

    To be fair, im not paying for a license, I stopped it the day F1 stopped being on the Beeb, it was more or less the only thing I watched on it and as for anything else? well I can honestly say my life would not be worse off missing them

    So Bugger it, I couldn't care less what they do to the iplayer, and I have no right to use it or moan about it anyway (although I do believe that the license is for broadcasted media only, not recordings which technically means I can watch it if I so wish to do so, I think!)! but anyway.

    Yes, having a TV plugged in to a receiving service means I should have a license, and yes the Beeb does actually give some of the money to the other channels, so its kind of hard to say you only watch non beeb programs, which is exactly why my life doesn't revolve around TV and they are not going to get a single penny out of my pocket..... and yup, this is all down the F1 shafting, I know that's silly, I know its childish, but im standing up for my views and whilst doing so realized I couldn't give a Scooby about any of it :)

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The simple answer is... depends.

    This is a issue about rights, not some abstract debate of what's "free" and what's not.

    There are three types of rights. The question is about Distribution rights and who holds them for each programme. That will have to be known before any programme can be priced and sold for downloadable delivery.

    1. CONTRIBUTOR rights - these are the royalties to the performers, paid through the various rights agencies. They are a continuing cost to the DISTRIBUTOR (as opposed to other production costs,which tend to be one-off costs during production).

    2. DISTRIBUTION rights give the right to sell the finished programme across channels, territories etc, (according to what they agreed when they set the payment rate with their contributors - tricky part - for many older programmes, the idea of "online" or even "VHS video" wasn't foreseen at the time).

    3. BROADCAST rights are permissions purchased by broadcasters from the distributors to show that programme X number of times on their channels. Nowadays "broadcast" rights need to cover lots of alternatives, online downloads, DVDs, or whatever. These are revenue to the distributor and on a good day are more than the costs.

    Whoever wants to collect the £1.89s from the audience is acting like a broadcaster and will need to buy the online download rights off the distributor (who in turn, will need to shell out the contributors' cut).

    The BBC often acts as some or all of these three rights holders, which is where the fun and games begin and helps explain the unique way in which the BBC is organised and managed - let alone funded.

    What needs to happen is that ...

    ...for programmes where the BBC holds ALL the distribution rights (and we kind of guess they'd agree to sell broadcast rights to themselves, it would be perverse not to) then the programme is probably fully paid for and could be sold online, but with a 100% discount to those who show they've got a valid TV licence number.

    ... for programmes where the BBC doesn't hold and current broadcast rights, then it's up to the DISTRIBUTOR to licence the programmes for online download and the likelihood is the audience will have to pay the £1.89 because the BBC didn't buy all the broadcast rights in perpetuity that cover Online delivery.

    ... for programmes where BBC Worldwide has entered syndication agreements with others, then who knows??? All bets are off and many more lengthy meetings (with no biscuits) is the most probable outcome.

    There's one tiny snag here.

    It does rather depend upon being able to reach a definitive answer of who owns what across rights management in the BBC and that's not quite straightforward.

    So the very old stuff, like Spike Milligan's "Q" series, is going to be hard. New productions will already have thought about internet delivery, but then it's just about how much the distributor should expect to receive for allowing someone else the right to charge the end-user £1.89.

  90. sleepy

    If I were the government . . .

    I'd be saying "Splendid idea, BBC. I can see you're not happy with the licence revenue. Go ahead and charge for everything instead. Set your own prices. We'll split off and keep the taxpayer funded web site, and you can go your own way."

  91. Moyra J. Bligh

    It's the things in the BBC Archives that they've never released on CD or DVD that I'd be interested in paying for. I'm talking both TV and radio. Well, assuming they haven't wiped it, which they did with a lot of the radio prior to 1990. I'd happily pay them to download a better copy of "Telford's Change" than the one I have, or their radio version of "Merchant of Venice" with David Suchet & Hannah Gordon, as examples of programming on my long list of their shows I'd like to see or hear.

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