Sunday, 18 March 2012

BBC to charge viewers to use On-Demand service

A major overhaul of the TV License fee would see viewers watching their favourite programmes online be charged by the government.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will consider plans for anyone using the BBC iplayer website, to watch or listen to recorded radio and TV content, to legally have to pay the current £145.50 TV License.

Currently, anyone watching TV or Radio programmes after they have been broadcast is exempt from paying the fee. However, with the increasing use of on-demand services available through new technology, and the arrival of the BBC-backed Youview next year – the new plug-in-and-watch service that will provide Freeview, news and video on-demand – the government is keen to get rid of the grey area which encompasses the current legislature.

Talking to the Guardian, a spokesperson for the department said: “Government is aware of developing technologies and the changing viewing habits of those who watch television programmes. How the BBC is funded as these issues evolve is a matter the department will need to address in the near future."

Earlier this month, the BBC issued iplayer viewing figures for September, which showed that the service had received 153 million requests for TV and radio programmes; with TV shows such as Outnumbered and Doctor Who, along with The Chris Moyles Breakfast Show and 5 Live Sport Premier League Football coverage on radio, being the top shows for the period.

But the public and users of on-demand services today expressed their anger at the plans. Students in particular have criticised the governments, after it was revealed through recent statistics by Sixthsense, Yougov’s market intelligence platform, that show 75% of students watch 2 to 3 hours of TV Online each day (

Lana Burgess, a History student at Royal Holloway, argued against the statistics, claiming that; “As a student I watch very little TV, so to have to pay [a TV License] to watch a few shows now and then is ridiculous.”

“Iplayer is there for us to watch after the live viewing if we want to watch it,” agreed Caroline Allen-Rogers, who studies Applied Psychology at Durham University. “We shouldn’t be charged.”

However the BBC, despite the current £200 Million loophole the current legislature entails, have insisted the current TV License is working. Talking to The Mirror, a spokesperson said: “We believe the current system works very efficiently and do not see a need to change its scope.”

The mounting pressure on the BBC comes under months of cost-cutting, and the announcement by the government that the TV License Fee will be frozen till 2017, resulting in impending redundancies and a reduction in department spending across all channels.
In further criticism for the BBC, it was recently revealed that former footballer and Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen is paid £40,000per programme for his pundit role with the BBC, one of nine BBC stars thought to be earning over £1 Million a year.