British people who only catch-up on their favourite BBC shows through iPlayer will have to pay the £145.50 ($192) TV Licence Fee from September 1 after a change in the law.
The reform will close the so-called “iPlayer loophole,” which enables viewers to watch non-live programming on iPlayer without having to pay the licence fee. It will impact fewer than 5% of UK households.
The change applies to all devices, including smart TVs, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. It will also apply if you watch iPlayer through third-party providers, such as Sky and Virgin Media.
TV Licensing, the organisation responsible for collecting the BBC’s Licence Fee, will enforce the law change through the same monitoring techniques it currently uses for television, such as detector vans. With time, however, the BBC may introduce its own controls, such as requiring people to sign in to watch iPlayer programming.
The reform is also not universal. You will still be able to watch catch-up content on the following online video players without a TV Licence:
- Now TV
- ITV Hub
- All 4
TV Licensing believes that closure of the iPlayer loophole will primarily impact students. Its research found that two thirds of students watch catch-up TV, with only 22% taking a television to university.
The organisation said in a statement:
“As of 1 September 2016, a change in the law means you need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand – including catch up TV — on BBC iPlayer. This applies to all devices. The change will not affect the huge majority of households which are already licensed.
“Fewer than two per cent of households only watch catch up — and only those watching BBC iPlayer as part of their catch up and on demand viewing will need to buy a licence from September. You will not need a TV Licence to download or watch programmes on demand from other providers, such as YouTube, Netflix, ITV Hub, All 4 or Demand 5. All unlicensed households are being mailed and a publicity campaign will happen before 1 September.”
Here’s a brief history of why the law has changed:
- February 2014: BBC director general Tony Hall says there is room to “modernise” the Licence Fee to include people watching BBC content on iPlayer.
- July 2015: The BBC says it will need to cut 1,000 jobs to cover a £150 million ($198 million) funding shortfall opened up by the so-called iPlayer loophole.
- March 2016: Former culture secretary John Whittingdale announces that the Licence Fee will be extended to cover catch-up on iPlayer when the BBC’s operating agreement, known as its royal charter, is renewed.
- May 2016: A government white paper on the BBC’s future confirms that the law will be changed to close the iPlayer loophole as part of the broadcaster’s new royal charter.
- August 2016: TV Licensing, the organisation responsible for collecting the BBC Licence Fee, announces that people who watch catch-up content on iPlayer will need a licence from 1 September.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.