Feeds

BBC Trust moots new licence laws to cope with net

Telly ownership on the wane

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The government is likely to change TV licensing laws to address the increasing number of viewers who choose to watch only via the internet, according to the BBC Trust.

In its review of TV licence collection (pdf) this week, the Trust said it was watching closely whether the availability of iPlayer and live streams of BBC channels was prompting households to abandon TV sets in favour of computers.

"Legislative change is likely to be required in order to reflect technology changes in the licence fee regulations," it said.

At present, no licence is required to watch catch-up TV on iPlayer. Live streaming services are covered by the same legislation as broadcast TV, and requires a colour licence, which as of today costs £142.50 anually.

Figures from BARB, which monitors TV viewing for the industry, show only a very small decline in the proportion of households using television sets, from 97.61 per cent to 97.37 per cent in the last year. The Trust noted that the current licence fee collection regime is "heavily reliant" on continued TV use.

TV Licensing, the agency which enforces the law, is currently set up to deal with those avoiding paying to own a television. It works on the assumption that all households have a TV, and sends out officials to check up on those that do not have a licence. A spokesman said it had caught people watching TV online without a licence, but would not say how many.

"It is not yet clear whether households are likely to switch to internet streaming as the sole method of watching television, avoiding the use of a dedicated television set. It is clear, however, that this is happening in some segments," the Trust said.

Monitoring whether viewers were accessing streams without a licence would likely require changes to the regulations, cooperation from ISPs, and significant investment by the BBC.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said there were no specific plans to change TV licensing legislation to deal with the internet. She said the government was satisfied that the high current high level of TV ownership meant the licensing regime was effective.

The Trust recommended that BBC executives mount a campaign to raise awareness that watching live TV via the internet requires a licence. It noted research showing 40 per cent of students in halls of residence used a laptop as their main way to watch. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.