back to article Give us a bloody PIN: MPs grill BBC bosses over subscriber access

With the TV landscape changing faster than some viewers change their socks, today's marathon grilling of BBC bosses at Westminster took on some urgency. Amazon and Netflix are already here in millions of UK households – and Apple is coming, reportedly making a multibillion-dollar investment in studios and material. So although …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the BBC took the subscription model it wouldn't last a year and they know it.

    As it stands nearly everyone pays it, if you change it to subscription you have to get people to opt in to pay for something which to be honest you could live without.

    1. A K Stiles

      PIN / subscription for broadcast?

      I'm slightly confused after the article as to how the MPs are proposing a subscription would work for the broadcast channels, or are they suggesting that it all becomes point to point IP based?

      How about all the other BBC services they (are obliged?) to provide - Local and National radio etc?

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: PIN / subscription for broadcast?

        Sky and many other companies manage broadcast subscription services. It may have been difficult to achieve when broadcast TV was analogue, but after the digital switch-over it would be trivial to encrypt BBC broadcast channels so that people need to subscribe to get a decryption card.

        The BBC could have mandated that all digital receivers include a card slot at the time of the change-over, but they deliberately did not do so to reduce the pressure of being told to go subscription service instead of TV licence. But is does not make it impossible - set-top boxes with provision for decryption cards could be mass-produced to sell for less than half the TV licence fee, and a date for encryption set for, say, 2 years' time.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      RE: AC

      I only watch it for Doctor Who, and i could just buy BluRays instead for ~£30 a year instead. That's much cheaper and i'll OWN the content after.

      Plus, with the recent SJW agenda shitstuffing i'll likely end up abandoning the show anyway if it continues.

      I'm gay and Jack Harkness was a great bisexual character. Bill was a terrible gay character. If your character has to remind everyone they're gay EVERY episode then something is seriously wrong.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: RE: AC

        > Bill was a terrible gay character. If your character has to remind everyone they're gay EVERY episode then something is seriously wrong.

        To be fair, I've known gay people who felt the need to re-assert their homosexuality at every possible opportunity. Conversely, I've also known people who you'd never have guessed were gay if they hadn't told you. Different people differ, so I don't think Bill's character was that unrealistic

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE: AC

          If you want to see how they get gay right and wrong then watch this weeks Walking Dead (right) and Supergirl (last 3 seasons, wrong), the reason is that Walking dead this week portrays a gay character and what happens in a way that is very touching and you genuinely feel for the situation (trying not to spoil it for those that haven't seen it) whereas Supergirl has hamfistedly pushed a gay character over 3 seasons that does nothing for the story and covers every gay cliche ever. If you are going to try and portray real life in a story then keep it real to the extent that the story will allow, characters should just be who they are regardless of their sexuality.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RE: AC

        If your character has to remind everyone they're gay EVERY episode then something is seriously wrong

        If you character ever has to remind anyone that they're gay (or straight) then something is seriously wrong. It's time-travel SF, not porn, sexual orientation is irrelevant.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      "If the BBC took the subscription model "

      Why does it have to be either/or? As pointed out towards the end of the article, the BBC has a huge and very valuable back catalogue, and the volume/size to have some clout with international distributers. So continue to charge a (possibly reduced) license fee for live and delayed (up to a number of days, maybe) TV viewing, and an additional subscription fee for access to a wealth of old BBC shows and new-ish content sourced from abroad.

      Subscribers of course will have to have a login and password to access the premium BBC content. More tricky to introduce a user/login for people who only take the basic service (ie just teh license fee), because that would imply a BBC logon even if they want to watch ITV etc, ie license fee payers would need to logon to a BBC platform verifying that they have paid their license before they can get connected to any live TV service, whether it's provided by BBC or a third party.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        I cant see the difficulty...

        Imagine that every user of the Iplayer or BBC Online Services gets a Login, and when they create the Login they give their address. When they pay their licence fee they provide their Login details. Boom straight up every user of Online Content is registered in the database and their payment status confirmed.

        If a user wants to access Premium Services (e.g. the back catalogue, etc) they pay a subscription and that gives them access to the Content they want.

        Everyone can still access regular TV and pay everything the old fashioned way, but it would give the BBC a much easier list to idenitfy households not paying the fee or not using the online contents.

        This is not a new system. It should not be difficult to implement. Tiered access to Services is used all over the shop, so I really dont get the BBC objections... Other than that their lazy c&nts, but we kinda already knew that...

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        "BBC logon even if they want to watch ITV"

        Indeed, at present, the addition of a PIN in iPlayer doesn't satisfy the goal of proving those watching live TV have a valid TV license. The law would need to be changed to allow the watching of live commercial telly without a license first,.. then as you say, the subscribers to the full BBC service could underwrite some free to air services, like news, PIN free. Or be draconian, and make every live TV provider authenticate to the BBC,... I can imagine that being resisted heavily, as it would be a SPOF and a DDOS target, and hand the BBC a big kill switch.

        And it isn't a simple task to enable a PIN, every single app on every smart telly would have to support it, at the risk of cutting off some people with older devices. total buggering nightmare if all apps have authenticate, ITV Player, 4OD, etc.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "the BBC has a huge and very valuable back catalogue"

        However with outsourcing of program making, the vast majority of RECENT programming isn't in that back catalogue.

  2. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Who would pay for BBC access?

    To watch TV you need a TV license and the money goes to the BBC. But I believe lots of people would say no if asked to pay directly to watch BBC. I for example wouldn't pay and would be fine with being denied access to Eastenders and Strictly Dancing and so on. Maybe they know that and would rather just harvest the easy money via the license fee.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

      To be fair to Auntie, there are a few things worth watching - for example the excellent work of the wildlife unit. I'm not sure this justifies the frankly steep license fee - the best part of £150 doesn't compare well with, for example Amazon Prime at around half the price, especially when you consider that Amazon give you several products for this price (such as free postage, Twitch prime, etc.) and a few programs you'd actually want to watch, even if their catalogue is sparse.

      It is a shame that so much of its other output is populist drivel, but then the commercial channels aren't exactly better in this regard, but Amazon do manage to give a few high quality offerings, such as American Gods, Mr Robot and Ash vs the Evil Dead. I can't remember the last time the beeb gave us any programming of that quality, although I'm holding out for Good Omens...

      The public service broadcasting, such as the news should arguably be paid for out of general taxation anyway - it's not like they're exactly independent of government.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

        "American Gods, Mr Robot and Ash vs the Evil Dead"

        Um non of those are produced my amazon. Mr robot is USA show which has commercials.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

          Um non of those are produced my amazon. Mr robot is USA show which has commercials.

          I never said they were. They are, however, available as part of the Amazon subscription.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

        "so much of its other output is populist drivel"

        And yet if you have a quick look at BBC4 there's stuff that would never be funded at a commercial station in a hundred years (eg).

        Sure, you might not like their more highbrow stuff either, but I can't think of any other broadcasters that make both "populist drivel" and what I'm going to guess you'll call "elitist drivel" at the same time.

      3. strum Silver badge

        Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

        > I can't remember the last time the beeb gave us any programming of that quality

        Wolf Hall, Happy Valley, Luther, Sherlock, Peaky Blinders, W1A... dozens more of them.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

      The annoying thing is you have to pay for a BBC license to watch ANY live tv at all. Including subscriptions like live sport on Sky.

      Here in Scotland because it is very much the BBC IN Scotland that BBC Scotland and game over all Britnat/Unionist propaganda mouthpiece in the latter stages of the referendum lots of folk have stopped paying the license fee. There are websites guiding you on how to do it. Under Scots law you do not have to let them in but if they can see or hear a live broadcast you are toast.

      I would cease to pay it but my wife won't let me.

      I NEVER watch any BBC news apart from egregious excerpts posted online. We now have STV2 which shows a half hour of Scottish News, that is news from a Scottish perspective, they have access to all the ITV correspondents too. All the stuff BBC Scotland said would be very difficult and why we can't have a Scottish Six.

      STV just went and did it. 7pm channel 159 on Virgin (in Scotland). Mind I had to bitch hard at Virgin to get that.

      1. rh587 Bronze badge

        Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

        There are websites guiding you on how to do it. Under Scots law you do not have to let them in but if they can see or hear a live broadcast you are toast.

        Under British law you do not have to let them in. "Scots Law" has feck all to do with it.

        TV "Inspectors" have fewer powers than council parking wardens. To be specific, they have no powers. They are literally members of the public with no special authority whatsoever. They can knock on your door, ask to be let in, and you can tell them no.

        If they can see a TV through the front windows then yes, they'll be able to gather enough evidence for a private prosecution, but they have no right of entry to your abode.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

      I'd pay for BBC access, if I was allowed as a left-pondian. Beats the f*ck out of any American TV and/or news. I'd actually watch real TV again.

      Edit: And no... BBC America can suck my eight-inch non-dairy creamer. I remember the day I found they were cutting LARGE chunks out to drop in commercials...

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Who would pay for BBC access?

        I'd likely pay as someone abroad, to stream r6, and have access to things like the Blue Planet 2 that's on now for example. I'd probably happily pick up the comedies like QI and Have I got news, and the odd bit like that as well.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "What Amazon has done is utterly brilliant and has transformed the way we do things," he said.

    What has Amazon transformed, a way to get more money for less? Prime is a wasteland and you have to pay for everything else which isn't much better.

    1. Augie

      Re: "What Amazon has done is utterly brilliant and has transformed the way we do things," he said.

      Wasteland? I find plenty to watch on there.. Far more than the BBC

      1. Richard Jones 1
        WTF?

        Re: "What Amazon has done is utterly brilliant and has transformed the way we do things," he said.

        While I have had an Amazon Prime sub for a while and in a burst of excitement bought a Firestick for one of the TVs that did not have easy access, I have yet to watch anything. I have simply not been able to find anything that appealed to me. There must be a trick to making their hard to access listings easier to understand.

        I rarely if ever use iplayer as I either PVR anything I can watch in real time or simply don't bother at all. Entering long arcane codes to get iPlayer would be an effort not worth making.

  4. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    News

    The only bit of the BeeB that i would pay for given the option is the news the rest of it i can do without.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: News

      You do realise it's heavily slanted biased propaganda? That's fine if it agrees with your own viewpoint but I prefer more balanced coverage myself not that you can get that.

      1. }{amis}{ Silver badge

        Re: News

        Is any national news network unbiased?? the beeb is on the whole better than most and its not hard to spot the deliberate bias.

        Also what else are you going to take RT, Fox, The Guardian

        All news is biased personally i like the Metro when i can get a copy.

        1. Da Weezil

          Re: News

          "All news is biased personally i like the Metro when i can get a copy."

          Get the app on smartphone - I'm out in the sticks and its the only way I can get their output

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: News

        Labour claim the BBC is biased towards the Conservatives.

        The Conservatives claim the BBC is biased towards Labour.

        If you're annoying both sides, it's a fair indicator you're playing it down the middle.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: News

          Labour claim the BBC is biased towards the Conservatives.

          The Conservatives claim the BBC is biased towards Labour.

          The problem is that, in trying to appear 'unbiased', the BBC tries to put forward every viewpoint, no matter how out-of-whack with reality, hence the promotion of idiocy on the same footing as rational thought. For instance, with climate science, where 99% of scientists in the field hold the same opinion, but they will always wheel out a 'contrary opinion' from a fossil-fuel lobbyist and treat them as if they each carry equal weight.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: News

            Yep. The problem is that those who shout about it tend to have views towards the extremes. They said something which I disagree with. BIAS! etc. etc.

            They do it all the time, but they do it in both directions. However, those who tend to claim bias think it's still OK to use insulting language against groups of people (although for some reason they think that someone shouting "fuck" is a disgrace). These people tend to veer to the right, but not always, hence the claims of political correctness gone mad etc.

            They do also tend to criticise those who are in power, which is what the press is for. The fact that we've had governments to the right of centre (although individuals to the left in the case of New Labour) since the 1970s it's plain that they will be held to account more.

            What we do not need is TV media which are a mouthpiece for their owner, as the majority of "newspapers" (using the term loosely) are.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: News

              Ah yes, the unbiased BBC.

              The ones, only last week, describing Jewish terrorists fighting for a Jewish state in 1948 as paramilitary groups.

              Or today, suggesting that some people (presumably back when it was written) thought George Orwell's 1984 was inspired by autocracy within the BBC, yet failing to mention that most people (today) thought it was being used as an instruction manual for recent British governments.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: News

                Over here on the left pond paramilitary describes any organisation with ranks and uniforms.

                We have a paramilitary division (*) that does a paramilitary version of one of our products - for sale to coast guard and marine rescue.

                * I always picture them as sitting around in cubicles in black balaclavas and combat jackets.

              2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: News

                describing Jewish terrorists fighting for a Jewish state in 1948 as paramilitary groups

                In much the same way as they used to describe the IRA you mean?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: News

                  @CrazyOldCatMan

                  Sorry, you're right - only radical Muslims are terrorists. The rest are just freedom fighters.

                  /Sarcasm off.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: News

        That's fine if it agrees with your own viewpoint but I prefer more balanced coverage myself not that you can get that.

        You do realise that you're asking for an oxymoron? If you think coverage is balanced then it's almost certainly biased towards your opinions.

        Some degree of bias is unavoidable but I can live with that as long as facts are checked and are, well, facts. The dumbing down of the news to little more than a series of quotes to try and show balance is what erodes news broadcasting.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: News

          @Charlie Clark

          I do, however that's why I said you can't get that.

          I see others have claimed to know me and that I disagree with the BBC because I'm far right or otherwise.

          Nothing could be further from the truth so what do I class as unbiased? I would class as unbiased a news organisation that reported facts and didn't use terminology as a way to push a point or viewpoint, an example of this would be incidents where there is loss of life. Depending on who did it or what happened the media loves to use different words to describe the numbers. Examples of this are a couple, a few, many, scores, dozens, multiple, hundreds. Can we not just keep it to the facts? That's just one example but there are many others.

          1. strum Silver badge

            Re: News

            >Can we not just keep it to the facts?

            No. because the selection of facts is one of the easiest ways to promote bias. And facts do need explanation - what do they mean? what reactions have they induced? what measures will be required?

            A fact-only news organisation is a chimera.

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: News

          The BBC has been found guilty several times of falsifying documentaries - IOW lying. I saw this for myself in an African country when money was thrown into some dustbins at the back of a shopping centre so the BBC could film children rummaging to get it, the resulting documentary reported that the poor black children were starving and getting food from the dustbins of the rich whites.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: News

            I thought that was Damien Day?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPlayer and the License

    Surely, it can't be that difficult to add a license number field to the iPlayer database? You could then encourage people to buy a license by only allowing access to the Parliament channel if the field is null.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: iPlayer and the License

      That's far too easy and far too cheap for the BBC to implement.

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: iPlayer and the License

      Easy to add, but:

      1. Radio doesn't require a license. But the BBC have seen fit to require an iplayer log in for it anyway.

      2. Licenses are currently per household, not per person, this is a difference if you are comparing directly to subscription models too.

      3. Presumably you want to actually track whether that license is valid and usable by the account holder (see 2).

      From the report it doesn't sound like the MPs have really considered the implications of requiring everyone in the UK to create what amount to social media accounts to access content from our state broadcaster.

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: iPlayer and the License

        I don't give a flung fig for TV (don't have one in the house and watch a program via the interwebs about once every 2 or 3 years if that) but do value BBC radio output.

        Consequently I'd be happy to have a radio-only subscription if that would guarantee support for:

        - continued access to radio content on FM channels

        - the now arbitrarily cancelled 7-day catch-up service that I used to be able to get via my Logitech Touch

        - on-demand access to archived programs: "Old Harry's Game" comes to mind.

        Since that would be at least as worthwhile as reading New Scientist (I have a subscription for that, provided on dead trees) I'd probably be willing to pay a similar subscription for the aforementioned BBC services, and certainly would be happy to cough up the equivalent of an online NS sub if there was one, i.e. the current NS sub less printing, packaging and postage costs

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: iPlayer and the License

          One advantage of a dead tree NS sub is it gets you full access to the website too. It's damn good value.

          I used to keep the copies, in file boxes with the index lists they issued at the end of the year. But I put them in the recycling when the website went up with a search function for old articles.

          I give my copies to a family friend in bundles, carefully ordered.

      2. Ian Mason

        Re: iPlayer and the License

        "From the report it doesn't sound like the MPs have really considered the implications of requiring everyone in the UK to create what amount to social media accounts to access content from our state broadcaster."

        Erm, hasn't that already happened with the BBC now requiring a login to iPlayer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: iPlayer and the License

          The login requirement for iPlayer is utter bullshit. Apparently, “This is so we can make the BBC more relevant and personal to you”. I used to listen to the occasional radio show on iPlayer, and don’t need other crap to be offered to me. Now I don’t bother. I’m getting close to sacking off my TV licence, I watch very little TV and for what I’m paying for a TV licence plus Sky I’d sooner go to the pub and watch the occasional footie game in there.

        2. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: iPlayer and the License

          Erm, hasn't that already happened with the BBC now requiring a login to iPlayer.

          Yes, and rather than saying, "Hang on a moment..." they seem to want to double down on it.

        3. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: iPlayer and the License

          "Erm, hasn't that already happened with the BBC now requiring a login to iPlayer."

          Only via the website. On the YouView box it asks for a login, but you can skip it. How long this carries on for I don't know.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: iPlayer and the License

        >1. Radio doesn't require a license. But the BBC have seen fit to require an iplayer log in for it anyway.

        Doesn't mean it doesn't need a subscription...

        I think part of the problem is "the license" itself. Originally it was quite clear, you needed a licence to receive radio and tv broadcasts, regardless of which station/channel you listened to or watched, and so you paid the GPO for the licence.

        Now whilst you still need a licence to watch ITV etc. the licence has been sort of morphed into a pseudo subscription to the BBC, which is probably the cause of much confusion.

        I think what people are trying to avoid doing is to change the BBC into a fully fledged subscription service, which makes some things easier whilst making others harder.

        From what I can see, the BBC should be rolling out licence holder account/subscription id's that are unique to a licence holder, but different to the licence number. This permitting new services and levels of service subscription to be built upon the subscriber and the licence only being used to cover those who only want live broadcast TV and no web access.

        1. zowber

          Re: iPlayer and the License

          > Doesn't mean it doesn't need a subscription...

          My understanding is that you could buy an FM radio receiver and listen to BBC Radio to your hearts content with no requirement to register for access. Why should this be any different when the broadcast platform is the internet?

          I discovered just yesterday that this actually is the case. While the BBC block non-authenticated access to their iPlayer user experiences (web, apps on android, etc.) you can still access the streams directly if you know how. get_iplayer, a handy perl script, facilitates this.

  6. Warm Braw Silver badge

    How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

    There are a number of problems with this.

    One is that increasingly the BBC "catalogue" doesn't actually belong to the BBC, because the BBC is obliged to buy a lot of programmes from third parties. Ostensibly this was to promote a diversity of home-grown media companies, but now seems to involve pouring licence-payer money into big international players like Fremantle Media and EndemolShine.

    Another is that the BBC is explicitly obliged to do a whole number of things that other media companies aren't required to do: produce news and current affairs, children's programming that is distinguishable from merchandising and stuff that's distinctly "British".

    A third is that the BBC doesn't have investors or unrelated business income to underwrite production costs and speculative commissioning. The BBC and least has a good idea what money it has at the start of the year and can cut its coat accordingly.

    The big decision to be made is whether we simply want UK broadcasting (or entertainment in general) to be supplied on a commercial basis by large international conglomerates or not. If we do, we don't need to bother about how the BBC is funded because there won't be one. If we don't, there's no point contemplating turning the BBC into a subscription service because a non-for-profit enterprise isn't going to be able to raise the capital to do business on that basis given the nature of the competition.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

      One is that increasingly the BBC "catalogue" doesn't actually belong to the BBC, because the BBC is obliged to buy a lot of programmes from third parties.

      That raises the question of why this should continue if it isn't helping the Beeb. I suspect the reason is that it's helping Beeb execs. If they don't want to sully their brains with actually making programmes they can go out to expensive lunches with companies who want to sell them programmes. And if they do want to they can take nice jobs with the 3rd parties and sell back to their erstwhile colleagues at the said lunches.

      They've already got out of running the actual transmitting network. Maybe they should be given the option of being freed of the 3rd party obligation and told to produce their own stuff or to get out of ... well, I suppose, employment altogether.

      1. jaywin

        Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

        They have to buy in programming from third parties because the Government says they have to.

        The fact that many in the Government over the years since this was brought in have been financially involved with the various production companies set to gain from a sharing out of the licence fee cash, is beside the point. It's the same thinking that's given us the god-awful "local" TV channels.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

          "They have to buy in programming from third parties because the Government says they have to"

          Yes. And this is a Select Committee MPs asking about it. So they can recommend that the Govt change it. It's the sort of thing Select Committees are supposed to do if they find something wrong.

          1. strum Silver badge

            Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

            >So they can recommend that the Govt change it.

            Way too late for that. The structures that once created programmes in-house are gone (along with national treasures like BBC Engineering). It would take billions to re-create them.

        2. Fred Dibnah

          Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

          It was during the Thatcher/Major years (when Checkland was DG I think) that the BBC was told to outsource programming. It was just another part of the ongoing ‘public bad, private’ good BS that the vested interests have been selling us ever since. For an example of how successful that has been, look at the railways with their enormous fares, Kafkaesque ticketing and layers of bureaucracy. The winners have of course been the bankers, revolving-door politicians, and corporations, as was always the intention.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much better value the BBC catalogue is...

      >children's programming that is distinguishable from merchandising and stuff that's distinctly "British".

      This if nothing else is a reason for the BBC. The only kids' TV allowed in my house is CBeebies. No 10-minute commercial breaks screaming "Buy this! You must have this!" (Kroon along with Krusty springs to mind) and no low-quality American crap.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't the simplest solution to use AI .... send the detector van people to a few thousand houses to find out if they watch iplayer with/without a licence and then use that to train an AI system that can simply send out the fines to all the people it can determine will be watching iplayer without a licence ... what could possiblty go wrong!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the past, I would have cared about the BBC

    but since the Brexit vote, they've taken on the mantle of "Brexit Broadcasting Corporation". Both by giving disproportionate airtime (the correct proportion being "zero") to Nigel Farage - a notably unelected person in the UK, and by an editorial stance which seems to be "if it's from a Brexiteer, it can't be challenged or held to scrutiny". Even Radio Four has suffered.

    Exhibit A is todays puff piece that we're all holding street parties, celebrating feeling so much better since the vote.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41893598

    Except it isn't if you read the story, rather than the headline.

    Some great documentaries (almost all I watch on the BBC these days) on BBC2/4, but then so have PBS, Amazon and a host of other services.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: In the past, I would have cared about the BBC

      > but since the Brexit vote, they've taken on the mantle of "Brexit Broadcasting Corporation".

      I dunno, Have I Got News For You (for example) is fairly anti-brexit when it comes up, as are other programmes. Coverage seems to flip between pro and against. I'd rather they just wrote the facts too but it's not unexpected for a journalist to interpret them to some extent.

      > Both by giving disproportionate airtime (the correct proportion being "zero") to Nigel Farage

      I think the idea, pre-brexit was probably to make sure he couldn't whinge that he was being oppressed and censored. Better to make a pillock of himself for all to see, as it were. What they seem not to have factored in is our seeming current fondness for twats (see BoJo).

      > by an editorial stance which seems to be "if it's from a Brexiteer, it can't be challenged or held to scrutiny". Even Radio Four has suffered.

      I've not really noticed that to any great extent, and I tend to hear a little bit of radio 4 in the mornings. Though it's more than possible - there seems to be this general idea that Brexit is set, final and cannot be argued with (or rolled back). We had one chance and fucked it, basically. Not sure I agree with that, it should be an ongoing debate, given that there are facts which were available to no-one at the time of the vote (and still some we don't have yet, as things haven't progressed all that much)

    2. jaywin

      Re: In the past, I would have cared about the BBC

      > they've taken on the mantle of "Brexit Broadcasting Corporation".

      Have a read of the "Have Your Say" comments to any Brexit article. The commentards there are constantly complaining about the pro-remain slant the Beeb put on Brexit. Most have a top rated comment along the lines of "And today the BBC's anti-British, anti-Brexit, pro-EU propaganda is...".

      On the other hand, most of the commentards on those articles are even less-rational than an Apple fan who's been waiting outside for six days to get a new phone, so may not be a very good barometer of the Beeb's bias.

  9. codejunky Silver badge

    Yey

    Applying a subscription model could force the BBC to produce better content. Or it could sink. I dont think anyone (even the BBC) believes the BBC would survive as it is if it relied on people paying for the content it provides.

  10. Gravis Ultrasound

    The emperor still hasn't any clothes on

    There we are, untruths is being dished out again by BBC.

    Even See-Hear-Say nothing politicians sense how trivial it would be to introduce a subscription model.

    BBC's current self-serving attempt to keep status quo is in line with how they blocked a subscription/digital card slot from the specs for the over-the-air digital set top boxes. Anything enabling adults choosing and paying for their own tv viewing is frowned upon by the cooperation.

    Establishments' racket of forced payments for top-down ordained media has always been a product of profound European disrespect of the 'lesser ones' freedom and choices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The emperor still hasn't any clothes on

      They have to block any way of viewing TV that could be used to show the viewer could not access BBC channels. TV licensing law would struggle to survive in it's current catch-all form if that was an easy case to make. BBC channels are unavoidable on UK broadcast platforms, the iPlayer serves the same function on computers and mobiles.

      The BBC regularly drops cases at the slightest hint of a 'no access' defence, they don't want it tested in court.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Future Content is AIKey Enabler

    If the BBC got back to basics with particular regard to presenting the future in a better beta light, with Advanced IntelAIgent Programming Programs on Missions and Virtualised Journeys that fundamentally enrich people's lives with novel programmes and radical services that inform, educate and entertain, would peoples from everywhere contribute/pay gladly for Prime Proprietary Product.

    To Capture the Imagination of the Masses, and Present a Virgin Future for their Colonisation/Inhabitation, is an Addictive Pleasure with Massive Reward, and only one AIMission made possible and currently available for SMARTR beta testing.

    Do they have such Advanced IntelAIgent Programming Programs on Missions and Virtualised Journeys for Presentation in Project Productions delivering Directions of Travel/Flight?

    What would they be worth on the open market when available for purchase?

    Now .... having said and asked all that, whenever the aforementioned Advanced IntelAIgent Programming Programs are readily available, one imagines governments will be only too pleased to bear the cost of BroadBandCasting in order to ensure and assure .... well, Prime Heavenly Programming of Earthed Assets is to be commended and wholeheartedly recommended.

    If the people want it, governments are duty bound to provide and/or find third parties already proactive in the field willing to supply that which is needed and desired.

  12. Alan Sharkey

    I'm not sure how you tie together a database based on house numbering (the license as it stands today) and onother with an email address and Pin number. So, yes, I can see why it could be hard to do.

    After all, if I had to provide an address to go with my email, I could always give next doors one if I didn't have a license myself (I do, as it happens).

    Alan

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Conditional access is also not really reconcilable with universal access which the BBC is required to provide.

      The comparisons with Netflix, HBO, et al. are completely erroneous. They are competing in different markets and often arbitraging back catalogues in order to conquer new markets. Yes, they produce some great stuff, and yes they're trailblazing new methods of distribution but in doing having to sign up for Netflix to be able to watch Dr Who in English in Germany is an example of market failure.

      Location dramas are hugely expensive but so is maintaining a series of local studios bringing the news (and other stuff) from across the country. 24 hours news cycles and international news channels are increasingly dominated by American stories. Whether it's the whether or some more of the morons shooting each other.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Conditional access is also not really reconcilable with universal access which the BBC is required to provide.

        It is if you are prepared to go back to basics, namely universal access (UA) was only for same-time access to real-time broadcasts. Thus the question becomes does maintaining the existing terrestrial/cable/satellite transmission channels satisfy the UA provision. Obviously, it must do as that is what we had before the Internet, thus access via the Internet can be construed to fall outside of the UA provision. Also it can be argued that access to previously broadcast material also falls outside of the UA.

        Also given you make a subscription available in the same way as you currently obtain a licence then there can be no complaints.

        However, the only issue is the fundamental aspect of the UA, payment. The legal status of the licence nicely dodges the issue, even though it is very close to being a subscription.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      how you tie together a database based on house numbering ... and onother with an email address and Pin

      You could post the pin to the house number - banks seem to manage it.

      Or you could just enter your license number to login to iPlayer. Duplicate "leaked" license get blocked.

      Must be half a dozen lines of SQL - so only £200M at typical government IT contract rates

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Duplicates,....

        "Or you could just enter your license number to login to iPlayer. Duplicate "leaked" license get blocked."

        Currently the license covers a household AND their mobile devices.

        Do people have to register their devices under your scheme? How else do you manage devices on the move, attaching to other Wireless networks at other addresses, etc? How many devices do you allow to connect under one license before you start blocking stuff,... you might annoy large families.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Duplicates,....

          Currently the license covers a household AND their mobile devices.

          All of which goes to prove that the Real Worldtm is a tad more complex than the simplistic models might suppose..

      2. strum Silver badge

        >Duplicate "leaked" license get blocked.

        I have iPlayer on my Kodi box, on two tablets, a mobile phone and a desktop. Which 'duplicate' are you going to kill?

    3. zowber

      When you create a BBC Account you are required to provide a postcode. This could be used to join the BBC Account database to the TV Licensing Database.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Also we shouldn't forget data protection requirements - the banks in linking their various systems together (mortgages, insurance, bank accounts etc.), likewise the utilities (gas linked to electric accounts etc.) had to get customers to positively consent to the linkage. Not an insurmountable problem but does involve a little more thought and effort than simply throwing two databases together and making assumptions about linkages.

  13. ServerMonkey

    Stop heavy handed enforcement?

    Never! That would mean that the lucrative Capita contract wouldn't be renewed in a few years time.

    It's also probably that bunch of chancers who are saying that the integration between the two databases is terribly difficult....

  14. unwarranted triumphalism

    Sick and tired of the freeloaders

    Why can't you just pay the TV licence like everyone else?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sick and tired of the freeloaders

      I’m happy with Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and commercial radio. Why should I pay to fund a TV and radio service I don’t use?

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: Sick and tired of the freeloaders

        I don't drive. Why should I pay for roads that I never use?

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Sick and tired of the freeloaders

          "

          I don't drive. Why should I pay for roads that I never use?

          "

          Because you undoubtedly DO use the roads, indirectly. The goods you buy in shops got there via the roads. The bricks and mortar that make up your home got delivered by road.

          You also similarly get indirect benefit from schools and NHS regardless of whether you personally use those things.

          But if I do not watch BBC TV, then it does not benefit me in any way either directly or indirectly.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Sick and tired of the freeloaders

            >But if I do not watch BBC TV, then it does not benefit me in any way either directly or indirectly.

            You under-estimate the power of social networks: Just because you don't watch BBC, doesn't mean that you haven't been indirectly influenced by it through your social network.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Sick and tired of the freeloaders

        Channel 4 is part funded by the licence fee.

        ITV and commercial radio are only commercially viable because the BBC pay a large proportion of the transmitter infrastructure costs. They couldn't exist if it didn't.

        But you know, never let reality get in the way of a good rant.

        1. Jess

          Re: the BBC pay a large proportion of the transmitter infrastructure costs.

          Fair enough for over the air broadcast, but why is a TV licence still required for live online streaming?

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Sick and tired of the freeloaders

        >I’m happy with Sky, ITV, Channel 4

        But legally you still need a tv licence to receive these services. The fact the licence monies go to the BBC is irrelevant.

  15. ashdav

    Radio without iPlayer

    Live streams are available http://www.radiofeeds.co.uk/indiv.asp

    You just copy the link and open them in your media player of choice.

    Works abroad (outside UK) too if you select the right feeds.

    Saves having your browser open all the time.

    ALL tv shows are available to watch afterwards if you know where to look (no links sorry).

  16. Lomax

    "Download to own" - that's my preferred model, provided the downloads aren't imprisoned by DRM. Shame I never heard of "BBC Store"; I would have been a customer!

  17. s. pam
    Facepalm

    Total ineptitude at all levels...

    It’s the fucking 90’s and merging my address/name + my TV License number and email address that iPrayer needs must be a Herculean task.

    The Brussels Biased Creeps are more incompetent than my local county council who fill the wrong potholes regularly.

    The best part is the BBC will have to chair a pubic consultation, waste £500M in 3yrs then circle back to the same starting point. Rinse & repeat until another parliamentary cavity search happens to get something so inherently simple done.

    Fucktards.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Total ineptitude at all levels...

      Addresses are licenced, not people.

      How many people live at your address?

      How many people work at your office?

      What about when people visit?

      They'd all need to link into that single licence somehow, and next door should not unless they come around to visit in which case they should...

  18. LochNessMonster

    My licence fee for 2017 has already been justified by (a) The Vietnam War (BBC 4) and Blue Planet 2 (BBC1). Oh yeah, and access to the BBC archives e.g. "Cold War, Hot Jets" and numerous other documentaries e.g the Timescape series. "Strictly...."? Mere fluff!

    I value quality over quantity. I also have Netflix and Amazon Prime subs but the sheer variety of quality content available via the BBC trumps both.YMMV, but I definitely don't feel short-changed.

    p.s. @Muscleguy

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Nationalist I found NOTHING biased to complain about in BBC Scotland's coverage of the IndyRef. In fact I found it amusing that BOTH sides accused the BBC of "bias" in turn,,,, that tells me that they were reflecting accurate views. Remind me again, how tight was the margin?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      In fact I found it amusing that BOTH sides accused the BBC of "bias" in turn

      It's usually the case. It's trendy left-wing elite biased but pro-Brexit and supports the Establishment. Go figure.

  19. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Problerms with subscription models

    * Novelty and experiment - this needs either a guaranteed revenue stream or a lot of courage and no interference from bean counters

    * Minority programming - ditto

    *Controversial programming - you literally can't afford to piss off viewers by making statements they don't like

    *Planning - you can't afford to commit money until you know how many viewers you'll have

    *Competition (1)- ( controversial this, maybe) needing to compete with the lowest common denominator, and hence racing to the bottom to get viewers.

    *Competition (2) - There are bigger organisations with massive budgets and economies of scale who can invest in attention getting programming (not the same as better).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a database of licence fee payers and a database of iPlayer users

    but no database of torrent users?! I feel like soooo left out!

  21. cdrcat

    Beeb wouldn’t accept fee from my friend

    Discrimination: just because he doesn’t live in the UK.

    He wanted to pay fee so he could access BBC content legally.

    He eventually had to borrow a login from an uncle... Go figure...

  22. Oldfogey
    Holmes

    Reconciling databases

    In order to tie together 2 databases, there has to be at least one item of data, unique to each entry, and common to both datasets.

    This is not the case for TV Licence and iPlayer.

    TV Licence is basically Name and address, iPlayer is an email login id, and a password; ip address is not relevant, as for most users it changes every time the router is re-booted. The email address I use is purely a figment of my imagination.

    How on earth can they tie these datasets together?

    1. zowber

      Re: Reconciling databases

      As I mentioned above just now, your BBC Account requires that you provide a postcode. There is your join with the TV Licensing database.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Reconciling databases

        As I mentioned above just now, your BBC Account requires that you provide a postcode. There is your join with the TV Licensing database.

        Not good enough! it doesn't uniquely resolve to a specific property, which is a real issue where the Smiths household live next to the unrelated Smiths household.

        Also as your BBC account does not verify identity of the individual behind the entered email address you can not prove that the BBC Account was set up by the licence holder your process deems it belongs to.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Reconciling databases

        BBC Account requires that you provide a postcode

        And that covers how many houses? In my area (not heavily built up) it covers 10 houses. In dense urban housing, it can cover 30-40 houses, some of which are subdivided into flats or bedsits. Each of which would be a separate license fee..

  23. Arachnoid
    FAIL

    "I don't drive. Why should I pay for roads that I never use?"

    You don't happen to ride a freetard push [or even electric] bike do you?

    Parties claiming bias is a way of getting even more air time allotted to your members to waffle on about your erroneous theories.

    As for the BBC its a Dinosaur with a complete lack of any modern management skills in regard to providing on demand technology. They need to take a hard look at their competitors raking in money hand over fist [OOH look sky monthly subs plan far exceed BBCs yearly income per subscribed household].

    Then work out how to bring the Ostrich like head in Sand BBC subscriptions and programming from the 18th century into the 21st.

    Viewers have a wide variety of choice these days and its time the BBC actually competed with the market for its income not drinking Ambrosia wine all the time.

    1. strum Silver badge

      >They need to take a hard look at their competitors raking in money hand over fist

      Like OnDigital, you mean?

      The Beeb have been way ahead of the pack in 'demand technology'. If anything, they're suffering from being too far in front.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >You don't happen to ride a freetard push [or even electric] bike do you?

      If he does, he probably rides on the pavement like the majority of people round here.

  24. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If they do change the BBC to a subscription model I would want the Android iPlayer app recoded to actually work when connected to a large screen. It insists on rotating between portrait and landscape mode when you want to view a series rather than an individual episode which is obvious very annoying when surely a simple setting in preferences to only run in landscape could be implemented for those who aren't using it on a fondle slab.

    It also is often very pixelated because of its adaptive streaming when it starts off with what it thinks is the best quality stream for you connection. Yet watching other video streaming services on the same device I can easily stream 720HD without buffering or pixelation.

    There are some shows that are made by the BBC that would never get made by other broadcasters Shows such as Spring/Autumn/Winter Watch would probably not exist because of the low viewing number to cost ratio if it were for the license fee.

  25. tiggity Silver badge

    Loked at another way

    Twaddle about hassles linking up licences to iplayer subscription users as they only recently started forcing iPlayer users to have username / password (or not at all if you use the correct tricks to access iPlayer in "old mode")

    They could easily have made iPlayer logon based on your actual licence (though there are some issues there, e.g. some residential ("old folks") homes covered with a communal licence so not a licence per accommodation unit, and in these cases one licence covers many, many people so some licences would be special in needing to allow masses of concurrent users.

    They dont want this as it would reduce licence revenue e.g. student watching iplayer in student digs needing a TV licence (if device plugged in), even though they spend half the year at home & (if they have parents), parents typically paying a licence already so BBC get an extra licence purchase (huge push at start of academic year to "force" students to buy TV licences where they do not mention teh device plugged in caveat).. or ideally students watch without a licence, using home licence, and just unplug device from mains if TV licensing folk visit

    Why not just keep the licence and have a licence based online access to old TV archives, job done, no extra costs, need to allow > 1 concurrent user per licence as assume > 1 person per licence & viewing tastes differ (e.g. 4, covering an "archetypal" (but outdated these days) 2 parents, 2 kids scenario

    .. although the simplest solution is to fund BBC from general tax anyway, as it's a government mouthpiece anyway so its news coverage has a distinct pro government bias - it does not act with true editorial independence (lots of subtle pressures in the remit of govt, e.g. making BBC pay for "free" licences of over 75s, lots of ways govt can pressurize BBC to say the "right" thing, otherwise more financial damage will ensue..)

  26. roblightbody

    No Brainer

    I love the BBC.

    Surely you could just get your iPlayer "Access Code" on your license fee paperwork, its a 1-time use, and you use it once to connect to your iPlayer account. No access code, no iPlayer.

    And then yes, a subscription service for the massive and unique and very important BBC back catalogue - I'd pay quite a lot for their music back catalog alone.

    - Rob

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: No Brainer

      Surely you could just get your iPlayer "Access Code" on your license fee paperwork, its a 1-time use, and you use it once to connect to your iPlayer account.

      But shouldn't the access code apply to the household?

      Thus I can use it to run iPlayer (as I do today) on:

      Xbox - multiple user accounts each requiring a login

      4x PCs (combination of laptops and desktops), one or more having multiple user accounts requiring separate logins.

      3x iPads

      4x phones

      So I suggest, based on a typical household of 2 adults and 2 children, the access code needs to be usable for at least 16 different accounts/devices, plus have the facility to deactive/reactive so that devices can be ugraded or replaced if lost/broken etc..

      Obviously, I want a single access code as having to administer 16 different codes and remember which code was used on which device/account...

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