BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

Compulsory subscription for iPlayer will become law, vows Minister of Fun

The UK's Minister for Fun will rush through legislation to allow the BBC to impose a compulsory subscription on people using iPlayer to watch catchup TV.

The BBC wants to plug a “loophole” that allows households that do not watch live transmissions, and do not need a TV licence, to watch BBC content. The licence costs £145.50 ($206) a year per home for the vast majority of Brits.

“The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it. Giving a free ride to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, a day or a week after they are broadcast was never intended and is wrong,” said Blighty's Culture Secretary John Whittingdale in a speech this week. He continued:

What is even more remarkable is that for the consumer, services like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, and Candy Crush are all free. Music, video, and electronic games can all be enjoyed for nothing - with the result that a generation of consumers is growing up who do not expect to pay. Yet all of these products and services – and thousands more - are the result of the creativity, hard work and financial investment of vast numbers of people. They have a right – and a need – to be rewarded. Unless they are able to be paid or make a return, those industries may not survive.

Since the BBC was not permitted to advertise, Whittingdale explained, it was only fair to allow it to impose a fee.

However, the BBC admits it is not prepared to implement the change that it has lobbied for for years, telling The Times that “complex factors” were in play.

The claim has been met with some derision, given that the complexity of supplying a household with a code that unlocks iPlayer content should not be onerous for a corporation that helped invent FM radio, DAB, RDS and NICAM, and hundreds of other broadcast and media technologies.

It’s the first time in its history that the BBC has acknowledged a link between consumption and payment.

Whittingdale said the changes would be hurried through via secondary legislation, which means they will be upon us before next year’s Digital Bill.

Whittingdale also opened fire on ad blocking companies, comparing them to a “modern day protection racket”. Full story to follow. ®

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