BBC iPlayer to require TV License, for some reason

15 May 2009

Here at BW headquarters, erudite reporter Paul Smith told us last week, how the BBC’s so-far brilliant iPlayer can be used to watch telly without a TV License.

All good. But as the saying goes, all good things eventually crack you in the shins with rods made of sell-out. The Beeb's chief techno-illogicist Erik Huggers has called for a license requirement on all iPlayer usage, blathering: "My view is that if you are using the iPlayer you have to be a television licence fee payer. I don't believe in a free ride. If you are consuming BBC services then you have to be a licence holder…”

Of course, his plan on how to witch-hunt iPlayer users out of all internet-enabled households (and presumably offices?) in the UK remains in his little head of dreams. But in his money-grubbing kerfuffle to cock hop onto a free ride, by taxing people he thinks are getting a free ride, did he fail to notice March’s ‘Review of TV License Fee Collection’? Were his eyes too misted with outrage to read points 38 – 42, which state “98% of households still own television sets” and that it’s “not clear yet whether households are likely to switch to internet streaming”?

Maybe there’s been a new report since March, explaining how a sizeable chunk of the UK’s populous have smugly smashed in their TV sets in favour of iPlayer. Or maybe – just maybe – the BBC have spent our fees on commissioning reports along with special printers that launch all their output into a giant fucking incinerator.

[The Telegraph]


  • avi
    Excellent article Mr Wong. Of course the fact that our licence fee goes to lunatics like Mr Huggers is the most worrying aspect of the bbc.
  • Steve S.
    I really don't see why those who choose not to have a license should ponce off publicly funded PSB. Noel Edmonds, yourself(?) and other brave souls have a huge ocean of advertising-funded or subscription services you can enjoy. I suspect, though, that you rather like BBC services, but simply are too tight to pay for them. Nobody likes a fare dodger!
  • bcc s.
    "If you are consuming BBC services then you have to be a licence holder…” I may be wrong but I'm sure you don't need a licence fee to listen to bbc radio channels, will I be able to listen to the radio on I player without a licence fee? bbc = 2 many heads up each others arses.
  • Schexy S.
    This isn't new news. Even 5 years theere were talks of introducing a computer license because of the ability to watch TV over the net. At least this way you don't need to buy another license right? It's a sensible strategy that works for them. Introduce a new free product. Get millions of subscribers. Start charging.
  • zac
    the bbc is excellent value for money, unlike this blog which is always crap and wouldn't have any visitors at all if it wasn't linked from hotukdeals. give it up already
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    I wouldn't trust your judgement of value if your time is so cheap you can visit, read and comment on a site you hate.
  • Andy D.
    A site which incidentally is free, thereby taking your 'value for money' comparison and smashing its head repeatedly against a rock.
  • Robin
    I don't really understand what the big issue is for Huggers...? If 98% of households have a TV, then presumably 97%+ of households have a TV licence (if not then its the licence enforcement dept that needs a kick up the bum). The new rules for iPlayer is not going to bring in any further licences really is it?
  • si
    so, Andy, if I kick you in the nuts, for free mind you, that's good value for money? no? really? oh. so your argument is bollocks then? yeah. thought so.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    If Andy took the bus to the free nut kicking machine and then stood in front of the free nut kicking machine all day screaming and keeping notes in his journal and then we'd assume he liked getting his nuts kicked and yes it would be good value for money. If he came home and complained that someone kicked his nuts all day and he didn't pay anything for it then you'd question his sanity no?
  • Geoff
    Generally I find this site interesting, but occasionally you publish an article like this one, that is so contrived and narrow minded. The BBC is funded by the licence fee to keep it advertising free and ensure that it creates content that otherwise would not be created, e.g. childrens programming that is educational and not geared around selling toys. If you want to watch content on the BBC, you should pay a licence fee, otherwise feel free to watch any of the other crap on TV that is punctuated every ten minutes by advertising and don't complain. I eagerly anticipate the flurry off poorly constructed, swear word riddled responses, from people with 'amusing' names.
  • si
    The point is that as hinted at by the name, there are two sides to the "value for money" equation; that of "value" and then of "money". If something is free, but has no value to you, then surely it is poor "value for money". As Thomas Jefferson once said, "To only look at one side of the equation is foolhardy, to then forcefully back up your invalid argument with oddly violent metaphors makes Andy Dawson look like a tool". I think it was that. Either that, or some drivel about freedom.
  • Paul
    "It’s a sensible strategy that works for them. Introduce a new free product. Get millions of subscribers. Start charging." Facebook? Personally, I'd rather have adverts on BBC and not pay the licence fee! I'm sure I'm missing something though. Kinda like the 'we can't get rid of the Royal Family because they bring money into the country' argument. I can't see the point of them, either. They must 'cost' more than they 'earn'!
  • j
    It wouldn't be too hard to implement a user account where you have to link a tv licence number to your login to view anything. They could stop blocking it from the rest of the world then - may even bring in extra money if people outside the UK are willing to pay...
  • amusing-name
    Just to be clear - you need a license if you own a TV/VCR/Satellite Decoder regardless of which channels you watch. Even if you only ever watch Sky1 - you still need a license. In fact even if you never turn it on you still need a license. I think this is one of the things that p**ses people off about the BEEB. For example - I'm not interested in the grand-prix. I really don;t see why the BEB had to waste vast quantities of money to pay to get the GP when everyone could have watched it on ITV1 and the license fee payer could have been better used for something more educational. I really don't see why I have to pay for something I don't want. BBC shoud be pay-per-view and make it market driven If enough people want to watch it then it will continue. If - like me - people choose to use other services then the BBC will fail.
  • Andy D.
    Stop complaining about the licence fee. It's like motorists who complain about road tax, Get a grip. The BBC is magnificent. End of. It contributes to the national culture in a way that commercial broadcasters never could or would in a million years.
  • john
    Firstly i do not want adverts on the BBC as you may of noticed on the other channels ads are getting longer, anymore and there will be more ad than programme. Secondly, as usual somebody is looking for a way to make us pay, although most have got a licence so they will ask us for more. Lastly, how will they get people who watch iplayer from abroad to pay, they cant so will not bother. JUST US AS USUAL.
  • Gus
    Fuck the BBC Fuck the TV licence Fuck the people who agree to pay for tv licence Fuck everything else!
  • amusing-name
    If the BBC is that magnificent then make it pay-per-view. It will have no problem raising the revenue it requires if enough people actually want it - there should be no need for additional advertising revenue. Its about choice - that then gives me the choice about wether I want to pay for BBC channels or not. To go back to the roads analogy. Its a bit like asking me to pay for a road tax even though I only ever go in a bus.
  • Andy D.
    If you can't find anything for you in the BBC's output, you're either a stubborn refusenik or just a tit.
  • Vince W.
    LOL brilliant. This isn't about condemning the license fee. That was never the point. The BBC are wasting resources and energy on not only commissioning reports they don’t use, but also trying to instigate changes in legislature and protocol which will affect hundreds of thousands of people, when *it’s not actually necessary* according to said reports. Instead, they (well, some of them) are doing so purely for financial gain. I don’t doubt that as we move forward we’ll *require* a license on iPlayer. But that day isn’t really going to fall within the decade. Don't they have more pressing things to do? Like detonating the cast of Eastenders? :)
  • Steve
    Dear BBC, I already have a tv license. Ergo, you will get fuck all else out of me......I watch I-Player, I have a license, I will not pay any further charge.
  • amusing-name
    As it happens English is not my first language so I only watch foreign language satellite channels. And yet I still have to make an annual donation to the BBC to make programs for other people. If you cannot see that is unfair then you are either a narrow minded biggot - or a narrow minded biggot. To go back to the origional point. If you use you computer to watch 'live' TV, be it ITV, BBC or Sky - then you are required to have a license. Thats the law. Currently, if you use iPlayer - or indeed any other media player to view 'pre-recorded' (i.e. non-live) programming then you don;t currently require a license. I imagine this is the loophole Mr Huggers would like to close.
    Andy, or maybe they just don't like the absolute shite put out by the BBC (and the commercial channels - they are just as bad). Nice to know that you view people who think that the mind-numbing, lowest common denominator shit that is 98% of the bbcs output (the other 2% is shit that tries far too hard to be "highbrow", but clearly isn't.) are "tits".
    And I've got to agree with Vince - what has this actually got to do with the quality of the bbc? What has it to do with the license fee? The whole article was about what a farce the BBC are/can be - What is being called for is absolutely useless when 98% of all households still have a tv/license. Oh and adverts on the BBC can GTFO.
  • zeddy
    It's too easy to knock the BBC. Where else would left wing, tree-hugging, "bowls from the other end" people get jobs in the media?
  • TVLicenceInfo
    @amusing-name, "you need a license if you own a TV/VCR/Satellite Decoder...In fact even if you never turn it on you still need a license". This is incorrect. The UK television licence is a licence to watch, not to own - you can own as many television sets as you like, and keep them on all day, without requiring a licence. You need a licence if, and only if, you watch a live television programme. It does not matter where the programme comes from (foreign or domestic), how it is being transmitted (over the air, via the internet), or how it is being watched (on a TV, a computer, or a mobile phone). If the programme is being transmitted as you are watching it, a licence is required. Conversely, you do not need a licence to own a television or to watch non-live programmes (from the BBC or anyone else). You can own a TV and use it for DVDs and video games without requiring a licence, and you can (currently) watch non-live services such as iPlayer or 4oD without a licence. If the law is changed to require a licence for any BBC content (live or non-live), it will presumably have to be worded in such a way that it only applies to video (or a radio would require a licence) and in such a way that DVDs/etc are excluded (or watching a box set would require a licence).
  • andy
    the bbc is just looking for ways to squeeze money from people, they don't care if you watch their channels or not, their enforcement officers will pressure you again and again until you tell them to piss off!! if they really wanted to make sure people who watch the iplayer have a license they should ask for the license number before they can open it...simple website building! get a life BBC stop using corporate bullshit on us
  • andy
    don't forget tips to piss off the bbc
  • B L.
    I hate CRAPTIA aka tv licencing scum. I will never ever pay a penny for a licence as long as I live. Thankyou BBC for giving me Iplayer. I can now watch the content I want to watch when I want to watch it for free. I dont watch live content so Im not breaking any laws. I only watch a few progs from TV channels a few hrs a week - max - I have a life unlike some people who have too much time on hands to watch crap. And dont see why I should a pay for content I dont watch. Another reason I will never pay is there their enforcement officers and their pathetic little letters they send me in different colloured ink every few weeks. - Ohh Im soo scared! Anyone else getting them just put "return to sender on them"- unopened. If 100,000 people did this they would get the message! LOL
  • GD C.
    Due to the simplistic rubbish which passes for entertainment and news on TV I had not switched it on for four years. I took the 30 year old TV to the local dump a few months ago. When I informed the licensing authority they sent me a form which gave me a rebate of the licensee fee from the date on which I dumped the tv. The annual fee £142-50 hires a mountain of DVDs from the library. Access to intelligently written newspapers on the web beats BBC news anyday.
  • emma
    i have a tv license........ big majority of programmes are crappy.......takes the piss having to fork out the tv license plus extra if you want decent channels in regards to sky......then it takes the piss again to pay out for tv license...... your net bill plus the probability of a net license on top of that. Basically it takes the piss, im not complianing im just having a bitch about the fact that it generally does take thte piss.
  • helicopteraddict-10
    Who remembers playing the best flash game of all time? The legendary flash helicopter game at
  • stephen
    anyone that thinks the bbc transmits GOOD programs needs a brain scan! check out youtube using searches regarding tv licencing.. To the guy/girl that claims the bbc is magnificent! You are one weirdo if you really think paying £145 for such bad quality drival is good. It is aimed at the dumbest people on earth who never complain about a service that is payed for by YOU. They get away with dragging any crap/rerun and showing it every couple of days ,not to mention all these celeb reality crap shows which are only aimed at mindless mongs! id rather watch adverts than thier programs! I would not miss the crap channels! If would like to see them get balls and take a chance in the pay-per view arena, but they know they would loose millions of pounds due to people with BRAINS!! NOT paying to uncode the channels they offer and using skys other channels instead! The bbc pays CRAPTIA aka tv licencing £500m to take the contract to hunt no payers and sell licences on your door etc etc as the bbc dont want to be associated with the CRAPTIAs way of collecting and harrasing payers and non payers (CRAPTIA is basically a debt collector for the bbc so the bbc dont get their hands dirty) look up the law on statues and bylaws and you will find that the bbc isnt as cut and dry as it wants you to think it is! If an inspector comes to your door do not sign or answer anything as is your right! do not let them in what so ever! and be advised the collectors have been known to wear postmans outfits and gas meter reader outfits etc to gain entry by deception so do NOT allow entry at all (meter readings can be sent online)also survey people who are actually tvl agents trying to get information under the guise of collecting survey information about your habits! ask them to leave and any questions regarding your name you are not at liberty to answer or wether you have a tv. they use bullying tactics and scare tactics to get you to purchase a licence and they will use these tactics even if you have not got a tv as they will not believe you and ask for access to your house to check! wether you have a tv or not they will send threatening letters to you and this is no way to run a business and no way to treat potential customers. you wouldnt expect tesco to threaten you for not shopping there so i dont expect it from anyone else! watch youtube and see what your WELL invested money goes on! they are nothing but mobster and no better than dirty handed loan sharks with similar tactics of threats. innocent untill proven guilty but not in thier eyes! is that the way you want to be treated or are you happy to fill their baised greedy pockets! its an outdated service that if changed would nearly cripple them and they know it thus no pay-per view service for us to make a choice on how we spend our money! do you know any other contract that does not allow you have an option as to how your service is managed!or even how the contract works legally and which laws it intails(not just coms act shit) no you sign a contract and give them money to do as they please and you get what they say you get even if they decide to do reruns for the rest of the year! if you still think its ok then go about your business and be a sheep as your taste in programs must be very plain and you must be ok with being taken up the rear end by fatcats that are laughing at you while they transmit utter shit they wouldnt even watch! some people must hate money! if you want to throw good money away on shit then give it to a charity and do some good with it!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment