back to article Main BBC channels to be broadcast live via web

Viewers in the UK will be offered broadcasts of BBC One and Two live online from 27 November, the BBC said today. The long-trailed move will see Auntie's top-rated channels join its yoof channel BBC Three, highbrow channel BBC Four, the BBC News channel and children's channels live online. As with iPlayer, video will be …


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  1. Simon Buttress

    Travelling abroad?

    Any idea if there's plans afoot to allow those of us that work overseas for some periods, yet still pay our licence fee, to access the channels we have paid for?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "While catching up with shows on iPlayer does not require a TV licence"

    WTF? So, for the privilege of having a TV, I have to pay a TV license so "quality" shows I don't watch can be produced, only for people who don't pay a tv license to be able to watch the majority of them free anyway? Fucking BBC/government

  3. jon
    Thumb Up

    live TV streams...

    ...about friggin' time! :) Even the lowest of low processors can encode in realtime these days, strap that to some real multicast equipment and you're sorted!

  4. Andy

    Sodding Flash.

    That is all.

  5. Jess Baughan

    Cafe WiFi needing license?

    I would think that cafes offering wifi will not need licenses as there is already an exclusion on the tv license for battery powered portable sets (which I am sure would include laptops and phones)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cue Huge Numbers Of Fines For Illegal Viewing

    The ease with which the BBC will now be able to identify those illegally using their services should enable them to recoup their development costs for the service.

    So can't see why license fee payers like anon above should worry.

  7. Matthew Coulson
    Thumb Down


    It's taken four years for them to stop sending me letters because I choose not to own a TV.

    How do they plan on monitoring my non-viewing of this?

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Headaches for law enforcement? Ever hear of logs and IP addresses? This is going to make enforcement very very easy compared to the current system of 'if you don't have a license then you are a liar because we simply do not believe you don't watch TV'.

    Imagine it - the Beeb will have a list of IP addresses used to access the service. A script could scan the IPs, (perhaps in real time but where is the £1000 fine potential in that), cross reference it with names and addresses (which it could be argued can be obtained under RIPA as there is a potential 'crime' being committed) which is checked against the TV License database. No license, instant fine. No fake detector vans necessary.

    The people going to be hit hard by this if the Beeb does it's usual trick of not attempting in the slightest to restrict this to license payers will be small and medium business premises without TV licenses (why would you need a TV license in your office where you expect your workers to work?) - often such premises have IP ranges that are tied to domain names and so registered to the business owner and therefore trivial to cross reference with the license database.

    But what if they did lock it down to license payers only, and license payers received a yearly username and password for the service? Bizarrely a company without a TV license would still be prosecuted if the computers are connected to the mains supply. A laptop powered by it's own battery would be covered under the viewer's home TV license. I am unsure about the legality of a system connected to a UPS as it's technically running on a battery. One for the courts.

    I predict that the TV License database schema will be updated to include known IP and email addresses shortly after this goes live, along with billions of spam emails sent out to all UK email addresses not on the license holder list on a daily basis reminding them that they need a TV license. Add to this a requirement to log your name, address, ISP and email when buying a computer from now on. (I'm only half kidding about that last one - TVL tried to obtain the name and address of anyone buying a 'Broadband Capable' PC - I'm unsure if that was successful).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    I hope that...

    this is provably opt-in rather than something you're assumed to be using just because you have a broadband connection.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    At least it's not Silverlight, so us Mac and Linux types can partake without having to complain like buggery to the BBC Trust again.

  11. Ray Yee

    This stinks!

    Right now, you only have to pay a TV licence if you have a TV or means of receiving a TV signal. What this now means is that if you have an internet connection you will have to pay a 'TV' licence even if you don't have a TV. It's a very underhanded way of sustaining a licence to tax the British public in an age where more and more entertainment content is being accessed via the internet and people are not relying on scheduled broadcasting for their entertainment.

    The BBC tried to do this by levying a 'Digital'tax back in 2004/5 was rejected, let's hope common sense prevails

  12. Simon B


    I should not be FORCED to pay a premium (tv licence) to watch none premium tv. I HATE the tv licence, I've with Branson!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ jon

    Sadly the UK's ADSL system (the BT part of it anyway) doesn't support multicast to the end-user. No I'm not kidding.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    BBC & the Worldwide TV Licence

    A Worldwide licence fee for people outside the uk is all but in the bag, along with the ability to buy a complete series of existing shows, the latter maybe available as a licence fee top-up, to give you access outside the broadcast range i.e a form of ongoing subscription.

    Broadband should be the main form of transmission to the home, in the future being able to lock out non licence fee payers via the ISP. The 'freebies' non licence fee holders being able to watch a non-live subset of clips/full programmes with educational rather than entertainment value.

    Fibre upgrades to homes could be partly funded through the licence fee - a guaranteed bandwidth, having the ability to receive two live channels to each household. Under ultilized bandwidth could be sold back to ISP's for additional capacity. The existing TV/Digital broadcasting spectrum could also be sold to help fund the move to fibre.

    The additional viewing figure feedback information would be very useful in setting Jonathan Ross's Salary.

  15. Chronos


    This was where they've been heading for a long time. They have been trying to justify sticking the TV tax on computers since Tessa Jowell brought the issue up in parliament. El Reg even reported it to us, so why is anyone surprised?

    One step closer.

  16. Ninja

    What happens when......

    ....the man from the ministry comes calling because I've let my TV licence lapse. Do I let him in and say "yes my plasma screen is on the wall in the living room but I don't watch live TV on it, it's hooked up to my PC and I just use it to watch Iplayer/4onDemand etc etc"

    Would he believe me? could I prove it?.....I think not

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Licence Fee?

    I thought the TV licence rules were being changed so that any property with broadband access had to pay the licence fee. Or was that just a nasty rumour?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    international access.

    "Any idea if there's plans afoot to allow those of us that work overseas for some periods, yet still pay our licence fee, to access the channels we have paid for?"

    Nope. Because you haven't paid to access them overseas, and if you want the BBC to buy the rights to do so off third parties be prepared to see you licence fee quadrouple. Good luck letting that proposal past parliament.

  19. John Imrie

    From the TV licencing web page

    What is a TV Licence needed for?

    To use any TV equipment such as a TV set, digital box, video or DVD recorder, computer or mobile phone to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on television.

    But a computer with out a TV card does not need a licence so why do I need a licence to get a video feed from the Net. I have a feeling that the Law may need changing for this.

  20. Ash
    Thumb Up

    @Jess Baughan

    You're offering facts to support an arguement. You must not have debated a point with the Government before.

    You win the debate by showing them how to make the most money.

  21. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Could be worse

    You might need a license to connect to the internet.

  22. James

    TV Licence

    The exclusion is only if you have a 'main' tv licence eg if you have a set at home, then you can also have a battery powered set in say your caravan without needing a separate licence.

    maybe cafes will block that particular web site so they won't need to buy a licence

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    You pay, I'll leech - sorted!

    Please keep paying the license fee, suckers - so I don't have to.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    what, really?

    People who don't own a TV and don't have a licence are presumed guilty of illegal TV-watching if even one of their computers just happens to have a tuner on the graphics card - we really have to be careful what we own. So what now - will installing Flash be grounds for persecution?!

  25. Xander

    The backdoor is found!

    This is how they'll get every student who is using their PC to watch telly (either downloaded or streamed) to finally pay their TV licence. Well done, that BBC. I was wondering how long it would last :(

  26. Steven Jones


    Does anybody know if there is legislation in place which allows the BBC, or their nominated enforcement company, to check perform large scale checks address checks with ISPs?

    Of course it is currently possible for a copyright holder to force disclosure of the name and address of an ISP customer for a given IP address at a point in time provided that there is reasonable evidence of copyright violation.

    This is wholly different - there will be millions of IP addresses which access this, and the great majority (it is to be assumed) will be license payers. Just because you are watching TV online is no evidence that you are doing so without a license. Performing large scale checks against TV license records would require massive processing and, unless allowed for in legislation, would no doubt break the Data Protection Act.

    I suspect a rather more likely option is that viewers will be required to enter some unique details about their TV license or themselves (possibly via a logon of some sort). If excessive numbers of sessions are detected with a given identifier then that could provide sufficient evidence of wrong-doing for investigations to get going.

    Personally I can't imagine that there will not be some system like this - I'm sure it won't be like iPlayer with open replay allowed to any UK IP address without any credentials being provided.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    The sooner that this shit-hauling, monopolising, paranoid organisation is assigned to rubbish dump the better.

  28. Simon

    Good idea?

    I thought to myself "Great I will be able to watch stuff on the computer while my wife watches her dreary soaps", then remembered that TV has become rather dumbed down and boring these days, last time I looked it was celebs doing something "Exciting" like dancing and DIY shows. Oh dear, I sound like I could be commenting on the BBC "Have your say" right now, sorry.

    This live TV is a kind of duplication of the iPlayer catch-up-thingy, apart from the fact you can watch the live TV earlier than the current iPlayer stuff, umm. Dont use iPlayer much either.

    Dunno, bring it on, maybe I wont use it much apart from to watch the Tellitubbies at work (Do they still show that during the day?)

  29. Anonymous Coward

    TV License

    I recall readind that license is required for any equipment capable of recieving live broadcasts. so does a PC now need a TV licence?? whether you choose to watch live or not.

    This is going to be a headache...

    not least for businessess with computers....

  30. adam

    the BBC are doing what?

    Bloody hell. I have enough problems with the arseholes at TV licensing whinging about me not having a license to have a TV, I dont need these bitches whinging that I now need a license to use the internet.

    I DONT OWN A STINKING TV. I DONT WATCH THE BBC, and still these arses send me threatening letters at least once a month. Now they can send me letters saying we know you have an internet connection. Give us money or else we'll take you to court.


    executives at the bbc should burn for this.

  31. Gavin McMenemy

    They are already brodcast over the web.

    Just use Zattoo.

  32. Andrew Cooper

    Exemption for battery-operated TVs...

    Isn't there an exemption to the TV license for battery operated TV's?

    Laptop / UPS anyone? :-)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Definition of....

    "Live" ??. Maybe somehow could send transmission via something that makes it NOT live then ?.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Just making sure..

    ..that your paying your licence fee, and that there is no legal loop hole for you keeping your money in your own pocket.

    "What you have no tv? no radio either! .. ah you have a laptop connected to the internet, please bend over and drop your pants your not going to like this one bit."

    *\. Grabbing my coat as I'm still wondering why we are still paying this tax, TV companies seem to be able to take care of themselfs everywhere else on the planet.

  35. Tim Cook

    "Business TV License"?

    What's a business TV license? You make it sound like some super-expensive subscription, like Sky's Pub package. There is no special business license, just the plain old TV license to cover one premises, be it a bedsit or a bed factory. Is the average internet cafe going to be bankrupted by an extra annual bill for £139.50 (assuming they had no telly on the premises already)?

  36. Norfolk Enchants Paris


    I agree - I am likely to be overseas for a while soon, but I will still be paying my exhorbitant license fee. I should be able to access this from anywhere - it's the *world wide* web isn't it?

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @ Jess Baughan

    This hasn’t been the case for years now! (not needing a license on a battery operated device)

    Taken from the licensing website

    You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV.

    this is purely another way for people who dont have a tv to buy a liscense, not sure how they are able to prove you have watched a live stream on your computer mind!

  38. Nik

    Licence = Login?

    It doesn't seem to me that it would be too difficult for the TV licence to include some form of verifiable login details. As the internet removes the physical location of a viewer as a serious constraint, the BBC could sell licences to anyone, regardless of which country they happen to be in at the time.

    Bring it on.

    [Aliens, because they'd need TV licences too]

  39. bill

    Oh Boy....

    ...I can see where this is heading....

    Every owner of a PC in the UK will be required to buy a TV licence, regardless of whether you intend to use it to watch BBC TV live or not. You think that sounds silly? Well I once tried explaining to an American that every household and business that owns a TV set in this country is compelled to buy a licence for it, or risk possible jail time, whether you actually watch any BBC channels or not. She thought I was winding her up....

    Yes officer, my TV licence is in my coat pocket....

  40. Dave


    The TV license is a stupid anachronism that costs a ridiculous amount of money to administer. The BBC is a public service, and therefore should be paid for out of the public purse. Directly, through a lump sum from our taxes, not through the current ridiculous scheme.

    Same could be said for many other things too, mainly involving our transport infrastructure, or lack of it.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Cafe WiFi needing license?

    "as there is already an exclusion on the tv license for battery powered portable sets" unless you plug the power adaptor in to recharge it. Then it's counted as being portable.


  42. William Wallace

    Re: Travelling abroad?

    I have a 3 Mobile broadband dongle that was purchased in Ireland. Even though I am now in the UK and have a UK TV licence, the BBC still thinks I am in Ireland and won't let me view most of its stuff.

    It would seem logical, therefore, if you had mobile broadband purchased in the UK you should be able to view their content anywhere in the world, as the BBC will think you are in the UK regardless.

    They seem a little behind the technology if you ask me.

  43. Jon Kale

    Flash isn't a video format

    FLV is just a container for audio and video streams. What we the viewing public (or at least the video-encoding nerds, anyway) want to know is whether the content inside be encoded using VP6 or H.264; the former has the unique feature of offering shocking quality at any bitrate but the latter is only supported in recent versions of Flash (v9.something)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    Require TV Licence details to access the stream.

  45. Anonymous Coward


    Bloody hell. I have enough problems with the arseholes at TV licensing whinging about me not having a license to have a TV, I dont need these bitches whinging that I now need a license to use the internet.

    I DONT OWN A STINKING TV. I DONT WATCH THE BBC, and still these arses send me threatening letters at least once a month. Now they can send me letters saying we know you have an internet connection. Give us money or else we'll take you to court.


    executives at the bbc should burn for this.

  46. Andy ORourke

    @John Imrie

    You answered your own question, read the information again

    What is a TV Licence needed for?

    To use any TV equipment such as a TV set, digital box, video or DVD recorder, COMPUTER or mobile phone to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on television.

    From that quote it would appear that a computer with or without a TV card DOES need a licence. So it would appear that if you use ANY computer (laptop / desktop / PDA) to watch a live broadcast on the web from the BBC that you DO need a licence

  47. N1AK


    That's pretty much what I did, we have a TV but it is only used for Games Consoles and DVDs. We have a computer but don't use it to stream TV. We even use iPlayer but that does not require a TV license.

    After around 2 years of telling the Licensing company that we don't need a license someone came round to our house, I was expecting him to ask to come in (which I would of refused to as even though we have nothing to hide it doesn't give them a right to enter) but he simply asked us a few reasonable questions including whether we needed a license.

    After this we have heard nothing from Licensing and have happily gone on not watching live TV.

    Obviously it might be that the person who visited us was less forceful in nature than normal, but you've got absolutely nothing to fear if you aren't breaking the law, even if you refuse them entry.

  48. Jon


    > A laptop powered by it's own battery would be covered under the viewer's home TV license.

    Yes. The TV license actually says "powered by internal batteries", so this:

    > I am unsure about the legality of a system connected to a UPS as it's technically running on a battery.

    using an external UPS is not going to be allowed.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You can already watch various channels online using the "we're not illegal, honest guv" tvcatchup site.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC1 & BBC2 online from 27.11.08 (Lancashire Day)

    I presume it will be only network BBC1 and BBC2 but that will be useful at times when BBC Scotland is putting some of their own stuff.

  51. Colin

    Already done

    Eh hasn't this already been done (all be it under some law loophole)?

    *cough* tvcatchup *cough*

  52. John Widger

    TV licence for a pc wtf

    Unless the law has just changed, you need a tv licence only for equipment capable of receiving television signals. I don't have a tv because I don't want one. Yet I have been hounded by the licencing authorities for years. Received several threats of legal action and so on. I think this is a blatant con to extort money under false pretences.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Re: This stinks!

    "Right now, you only have to pay a TV licence if you have a TV or means of receiving a TV signal."

    Wrong on both counts. You only need a TV license if you *use television receiving equipment to receive or record television broadcast services*. Operative words are 'use' and 'equipment'.

    It is NOT illegal to simply own a TV set. It is NOT illegal to have the means to receive a TV signal. it IS illegal to USE any 'receiving equipment' to receive live TV signals without a valid TV License. Simply owning equipment is not illegal - it's the act of using it to receive live signals without a license that is illegal.

    You would be amazed at how many people INSIST you need a TV license to simply own a TV - this is simply untrue. If you don't believe me call TV Licensing and ask before disagreeing. They will confirm everything I just wrote.

  54. Benny
    Thumb Down

    Have this title

    I refuse to pay to watch the channels that are supported by adverts.

    I only watch channel 4/5 very occasionally, and the Top Gear on iPlayer.

    SO Im not paying that much money for 1, just 1 program that I think is worth watching on the BBC.

  55. Stephen Tordoff
    Thumb Up

    Already happened

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably not that bad technically, or that expensive

    Though I wish I could get a license here in the US, tv here is mostly crap. I feel it's going to be mainly used in this nature, like an AOL login: if your abroad and you login, you better not be logged in at home too, because the IP address is a dead giveaway you're not in the UK and more than likely aren't the owner of the license, but a quick call by the real owner to unlock the account so you can log in from abroad will be the only inconvenience, because now the other that was logged in before is now booted and flagged, problem solved. AOL has been doing this for years.

    The main reason for this is to make sure only those who have a license get to watch as much as possible, but they will take travel into account somehow. Probably by just ignoring it as long as you never log in at home and abroad at the same time, but even after that if it's legitimate they'll stick you in a new list of people to ignore multiple logins unless it's over a certain number.

    Other than the people needed to handle the rare lockout calls (as long as they don't use active directory server), it is not that expensive to maintain such a system since that is mostly what corporate helpdesk does most of the time. If the system is simple enough you could man the whole thing with automated updates for system wide issues, and a few people manning phones for people who cannot login.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The unique way the BBC is funded.......


  58. Dick Emery

    F*ck em

    Resist at every turn. I will NEVER pay for their crap! In this day and age why are people FORCED to prop up an 'entertainment' medium? WTF happened to freedom of choice?

    When you get the letters either ignore them or send them back return to sender marked 'spam' or 'no longer occupied' signed 'Landlord'. Or if you are a shitty scared child buy a black and white licence. They can't prove you have colour! :P

  59. b166er


    who watches anything live anymore anyway? too many ads for even attempting that

  60. Nicolas Charbonnier

    BBC licence username/password

    Quite simply, people who pay a licence should get a username and password which gives them full access.

    The frigging BBC should sell on-demand access passes for people worldwide as well, not only limit it to full licence payers. For example if I want to unlock 1 hour of live BBC streaming or on-demand streaming or downloading of BBC content, as a Dane, then let me frigging pay the frigging BBC for that access.

  61. SynicNZ

    wot a todger

    I have BT at "7'MB" though iPlayer in the evening is like a politician justifying his girlfriend's maid's visa renewal. Lots of stutter but no action. Rubbish that statement. BT sucks. Live? Next week maybe.

    Remember the shareholders^h^h^^h^h^h....what ever

  62. Anonymous Coward

    I had a TV licence once.... I don't bother.

    They have no idea who's got what.

    It's just an urban myth.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Best effort TV delivery!

    Broadband access charges include the 'best effort' transmission or delivery costs of the channel. Best effort streaming (currently in our download allowance) means buffering and interupted viewing - not something you should charge for!

    Who should pay for assuring the data flow? User needs to opt in as they are prioritising this flow over others? Some businesses will seek to impair these streams, to stop employees wasting time, other subscribers may wish a better service.

    Pushing on the licence fee at all demands the Beeb does better than best effort streaming!

  64. Ross Fleming

    Stephen Fry - the ultimate debate

    Before waxing lyrical on all the debates on funding for the BBC, Stephen Fry summed up most of the points in a speech to the Beeb's honchos.

    Transcript here:

    Or subscribe to the Stephen Fry "Podgrams" to listen to him reading it verbatim. Brilliantly sums it up, and answers a fair amount of the comments above.

  65. Brian Clarke
    Black Helicopters

    License fee?

    I sincerely hope there will NOT be a license fee for 'owning a PC capable of streaming live BBC TV' as the current TV license is enforced for 'equipment capable of receiving live TV'. That would be like asking every motorist to pay the M6 toll because he owns a car 'capable of being driven on the M6 toll road'. Surely the BBC can see that not everyone that owns an internet capable PC is out to avoid paying a license fee (can't they?).

    On the other hand if BT could get my internet speed high enough to actually stream live video I might consider the fine a worthwhile investment!!!

  66. James Prior

    @ Dick Emery

    They could easily prove you have a colour set if you push them hard enough - so try not to be to mean.

    With a simple application to a court they could request access to your property. And lets be honest, the BBC wouldn't be refused that by the government.

    The best way, certainly if you genuinely don't have a set, is let them come to your house. You may complain about your liberties etc. etc. but once they've been they stop bothering you. My partner just had to do a doorstep interview two years ago and they've not been bothered since.

  67. paul

    Love the beeb

    Flash isn't great , but at least its not a M$ windows vista only format. I bet someone in there was pushing for that type of thing , as we all know the bbc will do anything for microsoft.

    How many reg readers dont pay the TV licence? I dont know anyone who hasn't got a tv licence. El reg readers are not the majority of the population. BTW if they do scrap it, you can bet it will be replaced with a computer / internet licence with all the cash going to Sky / BT and MS.

  68. OFI
    Thumb Up


    Good idea, TV Catchup has been doing this for a while with several more channels, quite handy sometimes. To be honest though it's easier to have all of the channels on one page though so i'll probably stick to TVCatchup rather than use BBCs site :-D

  69. Rob Aley

    @ James Prior

    You have a couple of points wrong :

    - To get a warrant from a court they need to show a probably cause, which the courts have held is more than just the fact that you don't have a license, you have a TV, or you just won't let them in. They need to give the courts evidence to show why they believe you are USING the TV or PC to receive or record live TV. This is usually in the form of detector van evidence, or a statement to the effect "As their curtains weren't shut we could see from the street they were watching what appeared to be a live showing of Eastenders" or "We could hear through the letter box what sounded like a live showing of Corrie".

    - "My partner just had to do a doorstep interview two years ago " - no, they didn't "have to". You do not have to open the door to them or talk to them in any way shape and form unless they have a court order.

    - "You may complain about your liberties". Damn right. It really is a slippery slope. I have a license as I watch live TV, but if I didn't I would put up with them keep bothering me rather than let them into my house when they don't need to be. Our system of law and freedoms works (or rather did work) on the basis of "Innocent until proven guilty", rather than "Your guilty until you can prove yourself innocent". The way the law is changing around to this way of thinking, and how people like you are letting it, is one of the reasons I left the police force.

    Several other people seem confused by who needs a TV license and who doesn't, mainly because the law changed relatively recently and the licesing authories don't shout about it. The ONLY people that need a TV license are those who RECEIVE, VIEW OR RECORD live TV programs at the time they are broadcast live on air using ANY kind of equipment through any kind of transmission (over the air, from satellite, over the internet, mobile phone etc.). Simply Owning a TV or PC or otherwise having the potential to view TV doesn't require a license. You only need it if you watch it.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Two things.

    1. Gosh, you people do love your knee jerk reactions, don't you? You have extrapolated a whole debate from the inclusion of 3 words "License fee payers" in the quote. Other than that, there has been not a single official mention of collecting license fees, but el Reg readers have aready cranked up the paranoia machine. Playing along, it should be pointed out - the rules haven't changed. If you watch live UK terrestrial TV, you are required to pay for it, regardless of how you watch it. If you are a freetard, then the ONLY penalty is you have to watch it a bit later on iPlayer instead of live. Much better for the freetards than almost any other entertainment, where you face prosecution. Just. Watch. It. The. Next. Day.

    2. To those of you saying things along the line of "other TV networks manage to support themselves, why should I pay?": Have you actually WATCHED any of them? I would rather pay for the 5 channels I get in the UK than watch the 100s of chanels available free elsewhere. But that is my choice. As it is yours if you choose not to watch them. Why would you waste your time and that of other people by pointing out how bad it is (in your opinion) and then moaning about having to pay for it? Don't watch it, don't pay for it. Was that too difficult for you?


  71. Nathan
    Thumb Up

    Remember when?

    You used to have to pay TV license for having a radio set? They abolished it when TV was making enough money and becoming the main financial source for the beeb. Doesn't it stand to reason that the same will happen with TVs and the Internet?

    As the internet increases in popularity, the TV set will decrease, meaning that the BBC have less money, and therefore need a new income. I don't have a problem with giving some money to the BBC, it's not like they're using the money to shoot puppies or something.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC Licensing By the Back Door

    Perhaps I'm being cynical & a bit paranoid, but could this be a government ploy to introduce a computer registry (much like the vaunted mobile phone registry)? Once BBC1 & BBC2 are being streamed live it is likely there will be a lot of people watching them online without a license (thousands, not millions). Because of massive license fee evasion the government will then require anyone buying a computer to register it or give their name & address. Another nail in the civil liberties coffin?

  73. Gareth Jones Silver badge


    There are a number of misconceptions about the licence fee, many of the are being bandied about as facts here.

    1. The licence only covers TV sets.

    Shite. The licence already covers computers and laptops. From the TV Licensing website: "You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. " That's it. If it can show live TV then you need a licence. No mention of BBC channels or how the signal is transmitted. Note the mention of DVD and video recorders. There was a myth many years ago that you could use a video recorder as a tuner to feed a monitor and you would be exempt from the licence fee. I knew a student who was fined for doing that very thing.

    2. The TV Licensing people can't enter your home.

    Crap. They can with a court order. However they seldom need to. The most common way they catch people by simply looking in through their front window.

    "Knock, knock."

    "Who's there?"

    "TV detector man. You don't have a licence do you?"

    "No, but we don't need one."

    "But you've got a TV."

    "We only use it for watching DVDs."

    "Funny that we've just spent the last ten minutes watching you watch Jeremy Kyle from our van."

    There used to be a story that you were safe from the TV detector van if you lived in a block of flats because the detector vans couldn't distinguish between a TV in one flat and the next. In reality you were safer because the detector boys would need a very long ladder to see you watching TV on the 13th floor.

    3. Squillions of people don't pay the TV licence.

    Cock. The TV licence is like the poll tax. It's unpopular and lot's of people claim they don't pay it, but figures show that the vast majority of people do actually pay up. I remember an anti poll tax demo where a council officer came out of the town hall and told the crowd that their main speaker was actually up to date with his poll tax payments. What a laugh that was. Although it was of course a clear breach of the DPA.

    4. Only the BBC receive the money.

    This is not strictly true. Although the fee does all go to the BBC (except for the money paid by the BBC to the collection and enforcement agencies) the BBC must use some of the fee to make programmes for S4C, S4C do not pay for these programmes so in effect some of the fee goes to S4C.

    5. The detector vans don't do anything.

    Sorry, but they do. They don't have to disclose how their detectors work, but this doesn't mean they don't work. In the old days it was pretty easy to pick up the presence of a CRT, but in these days of LCD TVs and the like things are harder. One thing I am pretty sure of is that they actually use sensitve directional listening devices to pick up the audio signal and compare it with currently transmitted channels. Not actually that high tech, but it's enough in most cases.

    The MO of the detectors is usually simply to take a look through your windows for a TV during the working day. If they see one they will come along later usually at peak time and take another look to see if you are watching TV. If you are they've got you. However if they know you don't have a licence they will try other methods both technical and incredibly basic. One is to watch for people getting up and leaving the room, perhaps making a cuppa when popular programmes finish.

    So how do you avoid detection? Keep your curtains closed at all times. Only listen to TV though headphones. Don't watch popular shows. Oh and live in rural and preferably affluent area. For maximum cost effectiveness they concentrate on areas with high concentrations of unlicensed premises. They are unlikey to spend time and money going after one unlicensed home miles from the nearest cluster when they can probably get several offenders in a day at £1000 quid a throw in a densely populated area.

    It's likely that less affluent areas have higher concentrations of licence avoidance, and it does seem somewhat mean and nasty hitting these areas for a higher return.

    I haven't got a problem with the BBC being publicly funded however the £3.2bn that licensing raises annually (something like 23 million licences) could be better raised. My socialist heart is offended by the flat licensing rate. OK so students and those over 74 get a concession. But why should you need to be 75 or over to get a concession, when other OAP concessions kick in at 65 or even 60? Surely it would be fairer to base the license fee on household income? "From each according to his means...."

  74. Apocalypse Later

    Can of worms

    I get a threatening letter from the BBC licence nazis every time I buy a new television or set top box, despite the fact that we have had a free licence every year for the last seven years (tip, get your mother to move in with you when she turns 75).

    Now we may all expect that sellers of any computer equipment related to internet access will have to report buyers to the licensing authority, as they do now with TVs, set-top boxes, VHS and DVD recorders and so on. So that's most mobile phones, bluetooth and wireless dongles, routers, switches, those plugs that provide home networking over the mains wiring, as well as any computer with as much as a USB port on it.

    This move is nothing about serving the viewer and all about extending the reach of the collectors of this iniquitous tax. Poll tax anyone?

    I write threatening letters back to these people. They are demanding money with menaces, a serious crime, also known as "blackmail". If their demands were legal, which is to say if they were warning that they would pursue legal remedies against my illegal action, then they would not be committing a crime, but I am not in breach of the law, and they know this from their own records (they make public claims to know whether every address in the UK has a licence or not). They are therefore knowingly threatening me with spurious legal action as a form of harassment. If you are plagued by such letters, write back threatening to report them to the police. If the letters continue, ACTUALLY report them to the police.

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