back to article BBC Trust moots new licence laws to cope with net

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 …


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  1. Mark

    To confuse things even further.

    If I use my PS3 and the webbrowser to view iPlayer services on my plasma, via it's RGB connection, or even muddier, boot PS3 Linux, and use Firefox to view iPlayer catchup, do I need a TV licence???

    The PS3 is a console AND a computer, my TV is a TV and a computer monitor....

  2. Kevin Gurney
    Thumb Down


    So will the BBC apply the same ruling to the internet as they do to TV ?

    If you have an internet connection you HAVE to buy a license as you have the ability to watch BBC programmes even if you choose not to ?

    Thats pretty much the TV situation in that if you have a dish or an aerial, you HAVE to have a BBC license because you have the capability to watch BBC regardless of whether you choose to or not.

    Am I right in thinking that the BBC are the only private company in the UK which has a law to say that you have to buy from them even if you don't use their product ?

  3. g e

    Internet tax for UK folk

    That'll be it... the BBC will refuse to stand on its own two feet and ask to levy an internet tax to pay for its continued existence.

  4. Steven


    Sounds like more money grabbing to me. Our business (which has no tellys) has to pay for 3 colour TV licenses; one per office (nearly £400 a year), just incase any staff watch a live stream on a laptop (not that anyone ever does). Frankly it's ridiculas. The beeb shouldn't get any kind of fee and should just have adverts like everyone else (i fast forward them on my sky+ anyway).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I might actually buy a licence...

    I might actually buy a licence and watch TV if it were actually worth watching. The highlight in the listings these days appears to be imported American stuff repeated ad nauseum.

  6. Lee Sexton
    Thumb Down

    roll on the day

    when the bbc put their money where thier mouths are and encrypt the bbc and make it a subscription based service, they claim nobody minds paying for it, so prove it. When the digital switchover takes place they have no excuses, encrypt the bbc and stop this absolutely philestine tax (window tax anyone).......

  7. Waggers


    The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee while he was working at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). On April 30, 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone, with no fees due. Neither the government nor the BBC Trust have the authority to change that decision. If the BBC choose to post their programmes on the web, that's their decision. I didn't ask them to do that, and I shouldn't have to pay for it.

  8. David Pollard

    Telly ownership on the wane

    And TV Turnoff Week is coming up soon, 20-26 April.


  9. Bassey

    Re: Mark

    Your TV is capable of receiving a TV signal (i.e. it has a tuner built-in) so you need a license, no matter how you feed it a signal. Not having an aerial plugged in is no defence. This is the BBC remember. You are guilty until proven innocent and then, tomorrow, you will be presumed guilty all over again!

  10. Ed


    It's certainly happening for students, but I think general households are safe for a while yet... Give it 5-10 years maybe... The BBC's Canvas project appears to be aimed at providing on demand TV, once that's available I think we may see a big increase in the number of households that don't recieve traditionally broadcast TV, assuming Canvas is supported by a wide range of broadcasters.

  11. Man Outraged

    What The BBC Bullies Don't Tell You

    BBC Licence Bullies don't tell you is that you can watch the BBC live streaming service so long as you use a laptop with a self-contained and removable battery and a WfiFi link (with built-in antenna). Check out the conditions.

    The idiots at the BBC Trust refuse to acknowledge this fact and tone down their dire warnings on their website.


  12. Terry Pears

    More powers for the License Gestapo

    Oh great. On my uni placement year I didn't have a TV (let alone aerial socket) and can attest to the sheer amount of badgering and "we're going to get you" love from the TV Licensing "people". All I had was my computer and an internet connection (the break away from TV was bliss), and this was before broadband (so no streaming, etc).

    I can almost imagine they've been gunning for people with big TV's running media centres/computers, now if this goes through then anyone with a net connection is a viable target. They won't bother with the "well I can't get iPlayer" excuse or anything else. My only thought is instead of continually penalising people who validly don't have licenses, is to have people who do use their license code tied to a username/email so they can access the iPlayer (would help to be able to watch abroad too), but somehow I don't see that happening.

    I tell you what though, after my placement I have a much bigger dislike for the TV License in general, this really does take the biscuit.

  13. James Pickett

    Grey areas

    "watching live TV via the internet requires a licence"

    What about watching recorded TV via an aerial? I don't mind running my PVR in 'catch-up' mode if necessary...

  14. Simon

    Re: Bassey

    You don't get around it by removing the aerial, you remove the plug when they come knocking. Without a plug it's incapable of recieving a broadcast signal.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @Kevin Gurney

    "Thats pretty much the TV situation in that if you have a dish or an aerial, you HAVE to have a BBC license because you have the capability to watch BBC regardless of whether you choose to or not."

    Not true - you only need a license if you *use* 'TV Receiving Equipment' to 'receive or record television broadcast services'.

    i.e. it's perfectly legal to have a TV aerial, as many TV sets and VCR's, computer TV Cards as you like, so long as they are not used to receive live TV.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    From the TVLA...

    "You must be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. It makes no difference what equipment you use - whether it’s a laptop, PC, mobile phone, digital box, DVD recorder or a TV set - you still need a licence. "

    However, the attitude that is taken is "if you do NOT watch or record tv programmes, but have something that could receive them, we're gonna tell everyone you're breaking the law and watch as you try and prove you're not whilst we obfuscate the fact that the burden of proof is supposed to be on us to prove you're guilty".

    Having been on the receiving end of the TVLA and this nonsense bloody tax (apparently because the previous owners of my house had a Sat dish, this meant I was lying when I said I had no TV), I have nothing but contempt for the BBC's stance and those tossers at Capita!!

  17. Steve Potter


    So watching live streamed content requires a licence, is it really LIVE? media caches must add a certain amount of latency to the stream... I wonder what the official determination of LIVE content is.

    So, easy option, as you select a LIVE stream, press pause, wait a few moments, then press play... and watch in time shift, not live and licence free....

    we would never be allowed to get away with that though...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Kevin Gurney

    A common misconception but you are incorrect.

    You are allowed to by a 32" tv to use with your ps3 dvd player or whatever, and you do not have to have a tv license for it, but you have to be able to prove you are not using it to recieve live tv i.e don't have it plugged into an aerial, or put a blanking plate over where the aerial comes into your house.

    @ Mark as long as it is not live tv , you are fine with that method (as long as you obey what I said above)

    either way they will always hound you for it.

  19. Charles

    Re: I might actually buy a licence...

    Speaking as an American, it might interest you to know that it goes both ways. Some of your shows are recycled from us. And some of ours are recycled from you. Personally, though, I don't watch that much TV anyway, sticking to specialty cable networks and avoiding the big networks during prime time.

  20. Charles

    Re: Freedom

    The Web itself is free and open, but that says nothing about the content that is transmitted upon it. It's like roads. Public roads are free to use, but you still have to pay for some form of conveyance to employ it.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Not rocket science

    So you enter your tv license number as a userid when watching BBC streaming services, easy. No license, no BBC service.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    The Beeb needs to accept the age of the licence fee is coming to an end. Whether they like it or not, they are going to have to find another way to fund themselves.

  23. Charles

    Re: Grey areas

    Seems your PVR would count, especially since it's designed to be attached to the TV. Thus it becomes an indirect means to watch over the air--probably enough to satisfy the conditions. Similarly for non-aerial-capable monitors that happen to have tuner boxes attached.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    throw it all in the land-fill

    @ steven,,,

    If your office does not have a television set, or any equiptment to recivetelevision signals,,, tell them to fuck off.... why the hell would you pay for stuff you do not need !! I have never heard anything so rediculous in my life....

    The thing that pisses me off big time....Me and my partner run a guest house... we have televisions in all the rooms... we have to pay on a sliding scale depending on how many units we have capable of reciving television transmissions... with the up and coming switch over to digital.. each room now has two units... the digital reciver and the television set... that doubled the amount we have had to pay for our licence fee..

    What i cant get a straght answer for is when the switch over takes place. the television will no longer be able to recive the signals, so will the fee go back down....

    Its not fair we get a penalty for just getting a set top box, instead of replacing the tv, which over the next few years will work out cheaper if we had of replaced the TV... so much for thinking of the enviroment !!!

    domestic users need to watch out too.... I belive a current licence covers you for 4 units... so add it up... main tv,,, & digital set top box, tv and set top box in the bedroom, thats your lot.... how many kids do you have with a tv in the bedrooms.... oops... your over the allowance....

    and to watch what.... nothing.... the bbc has lost all its credibility over its unbiasd reporting... and the kids watch eastenders.... pfft.... they wanna get sponsorship for it.... prozac will be up for it !!!

    mines the one with the netbook, with iplayer as my default page, in the pocket

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Some comments...

    I think the watch later on the VCR/PVR scenario has been challenged in the courts, and the viewer lost.

    The EU directive requires I believe, that internet and broadcast of AVM be treated the same, from the end of 2009, so presumably the iPlayer (and others) will have to be made available for all systems/versions (within the limits of the operating system)

    Re licensing, the French model of putting the TV on the same bill as the equivalent of the council tax , and you opt out if you wish, (which will probably result in a swift visit), would probably remove the need for a vast TVLA, just a load of heavies to check you dont have a tv.

    Finally, last time this was discussed on El Reg, a number of people winged about johny foreigner watching UK telly, well you can watch theirs, so embrace the other EU cultures!!!

  26. Kerberos

    Re: Re: Freedom (@ Charles)

    I think you missed the point. I myself do not have a TV, have no TV recieving equipment and do not watch TV, yet if the TV licensing people had their way I would still have to pay £140+ a year for having broadband. I would have *no choice* in the matter at all.

    Being forced to pay something irrespective of if you want it, need it or use it with no control over how the money is spent is a tax.

    So far I have had 3 people come round in the last year and a bit to harass me, countless letters, threats (it's possibly borderline illegal) simply because they cannot believe someone would have no TV.

  27. DR

    live recording or not the answer was actually above

    You need a TV Licence to use any television-receiving equipment to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV. These include programmes on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, cable and satellite television. Television-receiving equipment includes:

    * TV sets

    * set-top boxes

    * DVD recorders

    * video recorders.

    You don't need a television licence if a TV set cannot receive TV programmes and is used only:

    * for close circuit monitoring

    * for watching pre-recorded videos or DVDs

    * as a computer monitor – see under heading You don't use your television set or other device to watch or record broadcast programmes.

    You do need a licence to watch TV on a mobile phone or other battery-operated device.

    so if you use a desktop computer that plugs into the mains then have a tuner card you'll need a license,

    if you have a laptop and either watch online or have a USB tuner card then you don't because it's a portable battery operated device.

  28. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down


    > Public roads are free to use, but you still have to pay for some form of conveyance to employ it.

    Yes, but I don't have to pay the Government for permission to ride a bicycle (or a horse) on the highway.

    Nor should I be obliged to pay them for permission to download content which is provided for free.

    As for those who trot out the tired old "the BBC should take advertising", try doing some research and look at the state of the advertising market at the moment. There is simply *not* enough advertising money around and I have little doubt that more than a few of the smaller "commercial" channels will go to the wall over the next year or so as their major source of revenue dries up. Now imagine that the advertisers took most/ all of their money and put it into the BBC instead because that's where the bigger audiences are...

  29. Someone
    Thumb Down

    No, no, no, scrap the licence fee!

    The licence fee will become untenable. There are two criteria that currently determine whether you need a TV licence. You need a licence if the programming is broadcast. This means broadcast into the UK. It used to be that broadcast meant broadcast from the UK, but lots of people turned up from around the world and started watching their own local TV via satellite. You also need a licence for programming that is narrowcast when it is narrowcast simultaneously or near simultaneously to a broadcast.

    It is impossible for a person to know whether they need a TV licence to visit any particular foreign web page, when that page includes streaming content that could possibly be being broadcast. Enforcement would also be impractical. Requiring ISPs to monitor what their customers are watching and report any transgressions to TV Licensing is a non-starter.

    This leaves the options of turning the TV licence into an Internet one or scrapping it entirely. I’m a big supporter of the BBC and highly value its content. However, when I consider all the options in a world with increasing media convergence, the least worst is scrapping the TV licence.

  30. Jacqui

    400UKP per year for laptops


    If the device is portable (battery operated) and self contained (laptops with built in PVR have batteries and can operate stanalone then they do not require a TV licence.

    Cannot find the relevant section of the rules but TVL will insist laptops DO need a licence until

    you quote the relevant section then they go away for three years.

    I recommend you speak to someone in the legal profession and claim the past few years

    400UKP back....


  31. Adam Foxton

    Isn't this really REALLY easy to solve?

    Just login to the iPlayer site using your unique TV License ID number. Up to 4 simultaneous connections per IP (99% of the time there's only the one internet connection for a house). Dynamic IPs and / or a policy against logging details for longer than the user's logged on would allow the problem to be solved without impacting on privacy any more than could reasonably be expected.

    Et voila, no requirement for an Internet Tax and no loss of revenue- in fact a small increase in it- for the BBC. Plus it's more effective than the GeoIP service as even assuming someone sets up a proxy from home they can only allow up to 4 people to watch TV over their connection.

    For people who want to watch more channels, there could be some sort of extra levvy imposed. This is justified as, unlike Broadcast TV, there's an increase in costs for the BBC if you watch more video.

    Wouldn't cost the Earth to implement, either.

  32. The Mighty Spang
    Thumb Down

    me too

    dont have a telly, moved into a place last year. after 11 months of no correspondance from license fee people (as I don't watch the thing i don't own), got standard threatening letter about a visit. like to see them try. nobody randomly knocks on my (flat) door, they always call before heading in (gotta pay to park), so I'm not going to be answering to anybody... let them waste their money.

    mind you if you needed a license to listen to radio 4 all day i'd be bang to rights...

  33. Anonymous Coward

    The solution is staring them in the face!

    The BBC is a subscription service - just like Sky / Virgin etc.These companies have managed to come up with a solution to get everyone to pay for the services they require, out of all the people who choose to subscribe. Why is it so difficult for the BBC?

    The BBC need to replace the 20th Century paper licence with a 21st Century smartcard solution, linked to secure login details for Internet / Mobile use - oh, just like Sky already has!

    It's a shame that when Freeview came along that they didn't mandate that the set-top boxes should still have CAMs built in like ITV Digital STBs did before them. As a result, it will now take a lot more effort and money to go down this route. How very short-sighted of them...

  34. Anonymous Coward

    I did consider buying a digital STB for my parents at Christmas...

    ...but considering that I have neither TV nor license at my own address and you're required to give your address when buying TV equipment, I considered the wheels that would be set in motion if I made the purchase, and thought better of it.

    If 704x576 isn't the legal 720x576 for CCTV according to a story earlier in the week, then I'm sure by the same logic a three second delay on a stream wouldn't be "live" either.

  35. Chris
    Thumb Down

    TV License isn't the problem

    Tbh I dont have too many issues with paying for a national TV service, what I do have an issue with is how they collect the money. After graduating uni I was staying in a shared house where the landlord had claimed he was paying the TV license (he wasn't). Anyway late one night a TV licensing man turns up demanding that we pay the TV license now or risk court action and a fine. He also explained that many collectors (not him) are legally allowed to enter your house and confiscate any TV or Computer equipment that could be used to recieve TV. We explained the situation and he said thats not a defence its the responsilbity of the people living in the house and we had to sign a direct debit there and then.

    Seriously what idiot signs a direct debit on the doorstep might as well post your bank account details, password, mothers maiden name and general life history on facebook. After 2 hours of him insisting we had to pay he realised he wasn't going to get anything out of us and agreed to speak to the landlord. I thought the whole thing had been a scam and forgot about it, until the TV license came in the post 2 weeks later.

    The BBC's behaviour in collecting the TV license is pretty much equivliant to a bunch of thuggs and scammers out for a quick buck.

  36. Anonymous Coward


    Without a plug it's incapable of recieving a broadcast signal

    Without getting in the door they can't check anything, plug or otherwise.

    @Someone - Requiring ISPs to monitor what their customers are watching and report any transgressions to TV Licensing is a non-starter.

    And who said Phorm is dead?

  37. John Savard

    Why hasn't this been rendered moot?

    Surely if the British electorate made it clear to both the Conservatives and the Labor party that no party that did not include in its electoral platform a promise to abolish television license fees (and thus require the BBC to support itself largely through television commercials, just like private TV broadcasters, but perhaps with some small additional measure of government funding derived from general revenues reflecting the additional services the BBC provides) would stand a chance of being elected... that would solve the problem.

    Of course, there are other pressing political issues of the day which, in a two-party system (as opposed to one where the electorate could choose from nearly any combination of policies) make it difficult for the electorate to address forcefully things viewed merely as petty annoyances.

  38. Nev
    Thumb Up

    Sales Tax on Displays

    Anything bigger than 17" Add a BBC levy. Sorted.

    Here in France it's automatically added to your council tax.

    And the TV & Radio programmes SUCK.

  39. John Bayly
    Thumb Up

    @Adam Foxton

    Obvious isn't it. I had the exact same thought (think I chose an arbitrary 3 users though), but it'll never happen. It would also mean that people who pay for a TV license could use iPlayer abroad.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    I think that should be annually

    Anonymous Pedant

  41. Stewart Haywood

    Let's be sensible.

    The age of blasting MegaWatts of RF in all directions from multiple sites should have passed.

    It must cost a fortune in electricity bills alone, never mind maintaining the blooming great masts and towers.

    What is wrong with the TV broadcasters renting space on satellites? They can collect their fees just the same as everyone else with channels on the satellite.

    If the government needs a public service channel to feed the view screens in every home, then let them negotiate a rate with the satellite companies and put up a free channel.

    The same goes for domestic radio channels.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    (the old chestnut)

    (the old chestnut)


    Do I need a TV Licence?

    You must be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. It makes no difference what equipment you use - whether it’s a laptop, PC, mobile phone, digital box, DVD recorder or a TV set - you still need a licence.

    You do not need a TV Licence to view video clips on the internet, as long as what you are viewing is not being shown on TV at the same time as you are viewing it.

    If you use a digital box with a hi-fi system, or another device that can only be used to produce sounds and can't display TV programmes, and you don't install or use any other TV receiving equipment, you don't need a TV Licence.

    Therefore, *theoretically* you could buy the Tv Times , wait till the programme is no longer available to receive *at time of broadcast* and you'd be fine on IPlayer etc.. TVL Bloke turned up at my door a while back and cocky S.O.B that he was, thought he'd try it on :) now I dont have a TV at all and people never can get their heads round the fact I dont want to watch the majority of the shite thats on ,nothing to hide - nothing to fear is my 'maxim' invited him in , and offered him a cup of tea (at which point he knew he was on a loser.... :) ) showed him around and he was ticking his sheet off quicker than a blue rinsed granny at Gala Bingo - at which point I had to ask him what his uptake of my situation was - and quoted the above - he concurred - I stated then that if that was the case then I'd not be hearing from them again then - or that would be sort of ... 'tantamount' to 'harassment' - he sloped off..and a couple of days later I received a quite NICE letter confirming this and that they would again call in three years time 'just to see if i'd changed my mind'

    happy days :)

  43. Dennis

    Re: Not rocket science

    "So you enter your tv license number as a userid when watching BBC streaming services"

    Er ... what TV License number?

    When I pay my TV License all I get is a receipt from PayPoint saying that I've paid the bill. If you pay online you don't even get a printed receipt. A real license with a serial number disappeared several years ago.

    Anyway, it's not just BBC streaming services. It will need to be the streaming services from all TV channels. But perhaps only UK channels.

  44. Rob Strzelecki
    Thumb Down


    'You do need a licence to watch TV on a mobile phone or other battery-operated device.'

    'if you have a laptop and either watch online or have a USB tuner card then you don't because it's a portable battery operated device.'

    That make no sense at all!

  45. Anonymous Coward

    BBC stuffed with ads

    BBC schedules are stuffed with advertising. The only thing that makes it different from commercial channels is that all the advertising is for itself. The BBC now appears to be a self-promotion outfit with a programme-making department attached as an afterthought. Relentless trailers, promos, TV License bullying announcements, lengthy puffs for this series or that, endless aren't-we-wonderful ads for BBC news/natural history/comedy/whatever, the same trailer you saw 25 minutes ago at the beginning of the programme back again at the end, ads for BBC telly on the radio and for BBC radio on the telly and for BBC News 24 everywhere.

    And all on my wallet. And if I chose to watch none of it, I still have to pay for it.

  46. Poopie McStinklestein

    @ Steven.

    "The beeb shouldn't get any kind of fee and should just have adverts like everyone else (i fast forward them on my sky+ anyway)."

    No. No, no, no. The moment a company starts chasing ratings/sales, they start dumbing down, and appealing to the masses. Just look at the dross that's on ITV or 5.

    Let the BBC stay independently funded. That way, they can strive to educate, and stretch our artistic/creative limits.

    I wish they'd stop all the Dancing/Ice skating shit they show. But fair's fair. I get stuff I like, and I have to put up with stuff I don't like. I don't moan that I pay taxes for the fire brigade, and have never had to call them, after all.

    Oh, and not all of us have Sky+.

  47. Miami Mike

    You guys PAY to watch TV??????

    Considering the "quality" of 99.99995% of what's on TV both in the UK and the US, I'd be willing to pay NOT to have to watch the crap!

    But I understand the BBC's license model - if you have eyes you MIGHT see/read our content, so you must pay for it unless you can prove yourself legally blind, and expect to re-prove this every few years, whether you read/see our stuff or not, because if you have eyes you MIGHT so send us money!!!!

    That's what you get for being SUBJECTS - darn few rights and no constitution.

    Tea party time - I just happen to have a book "How to stage your very own tea party" which I will sell you for just $29.95 + P&H - but then, if you BORROW a copy and possibly see/read MY content, you'll owe me the $29.95 in any event, so expect a bill and follow-up visits from Vinnie and Bruno, my collection agency! In fact, if you are even ABLE to borrow a copy, or MIGHT borrow a copy, or had someone GIVE you a copy, you owe me the $30. Pay up or die, deadbeats!

  48. David Shaw

    Don't mention the Germans

    if I recall correctly , Germany was about to slap a TV license style tax on Smart Mobile Phones, partly on the basis that they could theoretically watch some form of streamed ARD or ZDF and partly on the basis that nearly everyone has a mobile phone. Don't mention this to.. oops

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC with a guest house

    Simply unsolder the RF De-Modulator from your existing TV sets and use your STB into the scart socket.

    Only one fee is then payable.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like BBC

    I'd rather pay £142-50 for the BBC channels than substantially more for the dirge that's on Sky.

    Actually I'd pay that just for 'Dave' !!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the students thing is a non-issue.

    i don't think i knew a single student who bothered to buy a tv licence in halls, i certainly didn't.

  52. Kenny Swan

    Glad to be away from Britain...

    When are they going to get rid of this antiquated and ridiculous 'TV Tax'? I don't understand how they can force you to pay for something you don't use. If you have Sky, surely the channels could be removed if you don't want to pay for them? They'll remove movies and sports access quick enough if you don't pay, why not reach an agreement with Sky and encode over Freeview and problem solved? Also, what about BBC America? Why do they get all the shows our license money funded and not have to chip in to the coffers?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Potter

    Your device would be recording the live stream. It would be "seeing" the data live. So you could watch it 6 months later, but you'd still be viewing a recording of a live stream.

    So no, they wouldn't allow that because you'd be breaking the law.

    Tv license isn't THAT big a burden; it means there's a few channels on the TV and radio that don't get to an interesting bit then start with the commercials. I mean watching, say, Top Gear on Dave is utterly intolerable. They get to the end of the sentence, and before you know it you're eyes-deep in a tampon commercial.

    Ever tried watching a show you enjoy on DVD (e.g. Family Guy) then going back and watching it on ad-supported TV? It's bloody awful.

    I'm happy to pay under £12 a month to be able to watch quality TV shows without adverts. I'd rather some of that £12 wasn't spent on crap like Eastenders, but hey- you take the good with the freaking awful.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Hells yes!

    Because the BBC hasn't made enough enemies with the ISPs, lets give the BBC £10 a month for everyone who is connected to the internet (just in case they are using the iPlayer, naturally). Oh, and lets make the payment legally enforceable. Oh, but of course, the ISPs can still pick up the bandwidth bills. Trebles all round, another couple of lines of coke if you need them...

    Basically lets all have one big fucking high five at what we've achieved!

  55. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    big brother angle

    I'm surprised that no-one has commented on this potential situation:

    "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."

    So, potentially more cost, and more snooping.

  56. delboy

    Who cares about the licence

    I've never bought one in my life and I never intend to.

  57. Martin Silver badge

    @Isn't this really REALLY easy to solve?

    Then ex-pats could also watch iPlayer.

    I would happily pay the licence fee (or some percentage) to stream the BBC output - rather than paying $70/month for cable to watch Fox.

  58. Alan Lewis


    Seems to be some confusion

    Its pretty simple. You do NOT need a TV licence if you own a TV, VCR, PVR, set-top box, mobile phone (that can receive TV), computer with TV card/device (computer includes desktop, laptop, notebook, media centre, etc), and/or have an ariel on your house.

    You ONLY need a licence if you watch broadcast TV, and/or watch a TV program on the internet *as it is being broadcast on TV*.

    Thats it. In a nutshell, if you dont watch TV you dont need a licence. Only watch DVD, VHS, and/or play on a games console? Dont need a licence. Plugged in the aerial and watched TV - need a licence.

    The TVLA letters are phrased right up to the letter of the law, and deliberately so, to frighten and intimidate people into buying. Funny how we never see TVLA appear on Watchdog, isn't it, despite documented cases of little old ladies who dont even *own* a TV buying a licence because their address was unlicenced...

  59. Mark

    License feetards

    You really are a load of uncomprimising pillocks.

    First of all, if you don't have a telly, you have nothing to fear. If you watch online only, as the BBC themselves tell you, you have nothing to fear.

    Secondly, I imagine most of you had an education supplemented to some large degree by BBC output - either directly or indirectly.

    Thirdly, if you're paying license fees despite having no tellies at work yet three laptops, then frankly, your business is probably not going to outsee the G20 conference, because you're a pillock. In fact, you're either King Pillock or King Troll. No License Required.

    The age of blasting RF energy into the atmosphere is passed? Nice one, unicast boy. *You* make it work. Nobody else has. It's called broadcasting for a reason, and it still works. And even if you turn all the 50KW transmitters off, what then? Disable aviation radar, NDBs, VORs? Turn off all microwave ovens?

    And surprise surprise, some of you expect something, once again, for free. Freetards. Maybe we should invent a term? License-feetards perhaps? The argument that you ultimately pay for ITV is a stretched one, admittedly - even if ultimately true - but someone has to pay for the BBC, and pay upfront. It's the deal, and it's written in black and white (and since 1969, in colour too..) Don't give me this crap you don't use it. Or that it just puts out American shows. (And anyway there are, actually, some good American shows.)

    The BBC has a 90% weekly reach in radio and probably similar in telly. And weekly reaches, as the Reg readership stats presumably bear out, are always lower than monthly ones. That means, in any month, virtually all of the population consume the BBC's output to some degree. It's ad-free. It's reasonably unbiased. And it has to be paid for.

    (Reach, in case you don't understand, is the percentage of the population who consume a product in a given period. 90% a week. Not bad for all the fuss people make, is it? Maybe that's the problem - 90% is too good. Success - and we know *how* we hate that don't we?)

    If someone made an analysis of the ratio of quality to crap, or of homegrown to foreign talent, or risk-taking to risk-aversion, or any similar assessment, the BBC would be in the right.

    Equally, you might argue the relationship of BBC-talent cost to ITV-talent cost is a skewed one, one where the BBC pays too much (and too much of our money); and I'd agree, and hopefully that will prove to be an short-lived aberrition. But that's a side issue.

    I really wish we'd rebrand "TV licence" as "UK Culture Licence" - because that's what in effect it is. If that means having to dole some out to Channel 4, or to lesbian painters, then so be it.

    As much as the Reg is - to its core audience (ie, presumably you) a British institution, standing for British values, culture and humour - so is the BBC, but on a scale that attempts to reach the *whole* population, rather than a purely IT-literate subset.

    If you try to be all things to all men, then I suspect all men will have all things to say about you.

    And it's not easy addressing the British population when 1 in 7 of the British population wasn't born here.

    For Christ's sake, accept the BBC as about the only social glue we have left - assuming you're British, of course - and happily pay the fee.

    And if you're still not convinced, ask yourself this: what would ITV or - heaven forfend, Heart FM - be like without the measure of BBC competition? And if you can't bring yourself to comtemplate that, imagine what the world would be like if the only IT website in the world were this one. I suspect even Jon Lettice would baulk at that.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Paying for state TV?

    Ahhh, I see it's April Fools !!!

    You almost had me there!

  61. Defiant

    Internet Licence

    Come on only an idiot couldn't see the BBC was setting up an Internet Licence to replace the BBC TV Licence. Viewing figures are going down so they're clinging to survive and will make up every excuse in the book to do it.

    Scrap the ruddy thing

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think

    I don't really see how watching iPlayer without having a TV licence is any different to having a digibox with a fake decoder card stuck in it. It's probably worse, since you aren't actually using a resouce to decrypt a broadcast that'd be flowing through your home anyway, whereas you are using the BBC's network bandwidth to view their content.

    However, the BBC and the government will no doubt take the opposite tack to the logical "Make iPlayer users pay" route and go for the "Make everyone with an internet connection pay regardless of what they actually consume"

  63. Brezin Bardout

    @ License feetards

    Hmm, either a frustrated 'enforcement officer' or just a very poor attempt at trolling? My money's on the latter

    Actually, I stopped reading after the 'First of all, if you don't have a telly, you have nothing to fear.' on the second line, but I think that was enough to get the idea.

  64. Steen
    Black Helicopters

    License for my computer?

    ........ Never saw that coming.

  65. tim


    The BBC should be stopped by offcom .

    They have a policy of putting their putrid programming anywhere they can , on satelite and dvb , now on the internet . Then enforcing their outdated and all encompasing charges on the pretext that the whole country is now watching their rubbish ethnic propaganda .

    The Internet was just fine without the bbc , WE can do without their scummy propaganda and rubbish programs and least of all charging because a computer might be able to recieve their TOXIC data streams.


  66. Thomas Bottrill


    "BBC Licence Bullies don't tell you is that you can watch the BBC live streaming service so long as you use a laptop with a self-contained and removable battery and a WfiFi link (with built-in antenna). Check out the conditions."

    Not entirely true - battery-powered TVs are covered by your household TV licence, so you still need a licence to cover it. This exemption is only really useful if you're a student, as you can watch TV in your halls on a laptop without having it plugged in.

    "Your TV is capable of receiving a TV signal (i.e. it has a tuner built-in) so you need a license, no matter how you feed it a signal. Not having an aerial plugged in is no defence. This is the BBC remember. You are guilty until proven innocent and then, tomorrow, you will be presumed guilty all over again!!"

    No, you can own a TV without a TV licence so long as you don't watch live TV with it. You're still able to use it for consoles or for watching catch-up programmes online. The best way to prove that you don't use it for watching TV is to leave it detuned.

    "License feetards"

    Completely agree. It's worth pointing out that the licence fee also covers the BBC's radio and online activities, so it's likely that pretty much everyone uses some BBC service. Even if you don't watch BBC channels on TV, if you're using iPlayer or the BBC News website, or even listening to Radio 4, you can't really complain about paying the licence fee, as you are still deriving some benefit from it.

  67. Anonymous Coward

    Abolish it...

    How about they do the right thing and abolish the TV Tax.

    I have a TV which gets used only for gaming and DVD's. Yet I am forced by law spend £140 a year on TV Tax when I don't watch television, or listen to the radio, or use their online services. I don't even have an aerial on the wall FFS!

    How is it legal to make people pay for something they "could" receive but do not want? Imagine going in to a restaurant for a coffee and being charged for a 3 course meal because you "could" have had it while you were there.

  68. fergal


    Come to Southern Ireland. We don't pay no UK license fee, and we can get BBC over the air. (in most parts of country)(though most of us get it Via NTL or Sky which we pay for. )

    Though you will have to pay for the absolute bol-OX that our beloved national broadcaster decides to put on air.(they only have a small population to pay their license god bless!) Oh and theres no access to i-player either.

  69. Dave Cheetham

    Well said Mark

    Its the same principle of Freeturds who won't pay for music thinking it is their right to download it free. Most of them argue that they want to listen to the music first before buying. Fine, well now you have Spotify where you can listen to free music all day long, whatever song you want, on demand, so Pirate Bay is no longer be needed to provide the "ILLEGAL" copies. No more excuses.

    The Licence fee is for using the equipment and the airways, same as the car tax is required for using a car. It is NOT just to be allowed to watch the BBC. The fee pays for regulation of the braodcast industry and maintaining standards, allocating broadcast frequencies, monitoring and policing abuse of the airways to ensure correct seperation of channels, emergency frequencies etc etc etc. And most importantly, providing a high standard of programme making as a benchmark.

  70. TimNevins


    "The solution is staring them in the face...How very short-sighted of them..."

    Actually quite the opposite. Plausable deniability.

    If someone tried to force the BBC to implement subscription using smartcards they would say all the set-top boxes out there do not support it.

    How very clever of them.

  71. Chewy

    Commercial stations

    Surely the point should be why should you have to watch adverts on Sky's own channels when you have already paid the subscription?

    As for scrapping the license fee - no thanks. I'd just rather they didn't show all those crappy dancing programmes and have more of Planet Earth. And do people seriously think that the commercial stations don't bow down to pressures from the companies who pay for services. Can you imagine Panorama being influenced by the sponsors?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I keep thinking about getting a tv

    Then I keep remembering how british broadcasters cut the biggest adranalein rush from Predator 2 late at night because the predator swore. Then I decide to put my £150-ish toward some dvds.

  73. fluffels

    @horness and other eejits.

    You don't know the law properly.


    I'm not even going to apologise for the shouting above. Get a fecking clue people, read the fecking laws before you go off on one

    I previously worked in a solicitors, and they had TVs everywhere, hooked up to DVD players. They didn't have any licenses in their branches, however, because they *didn't watch them for the broadcasts*, they watched them for training DVDs.

    It's perfectly acceptable. You write to the licensing people and say "i have a telly. i don't have it hooked up to the arial and use it only for xbox/whatever. deal with it."

    ..I've done this. I don't watch telly so I wouldn't pay the license.....

    ....but I use the BBC News site, listen to Radio 2 and 4, etc. So I pay the license, because they're covered by it.

    It's also worth pointing out that the license fee doesn't only go to the BBC. Yeah they get the majority, but they're not the only people in on it.

  74. Tim Williams

    Foreign Sales

    If they required you to login to iPlayer with a unique code on the TV licence (as already suggested above), this would also open up the possibility of selling TV licences to non-UK residents. As I understand it iPlayer is currently limited to UK only IP addresses

    There are a lot of expats (and people from other english speaking countries) out there who would probably (and happily) pay the full licence fee just to get at the iPlayer.

  75. michael


    wail I agree with a lot of what has been said I thought I would just chip in in a bit of defence of the bbc

    I quite like the idar of a tv channel that is not funded by ads for at least 2 reasons

    1. I detest ads I really hate them and I hate how on sky and other tv stations 1/4 of the time is taken up with adverts this is espicley bad on sky where you are paying a subscription anyway

    2. I like the idar that a non ad supported channel can aford to do more things witch would not find sponsors ad company's like known successful things so to get some more experimental things you need pepol with no ties to these pepol

    3. with the licence fee comes the demand to be at least be responsibly independent

  76. Ponmyword
    Thumb Down

    bbc and gov conspiracy

    We need to keep an eye on this.

    Wacky Jacui Smith (the second-Home Secretary) would love to control our net access and the bbc could give her the excuse.

    Of course the best thing would be to scrap the licence fee altogether and for the bbc to try to scrape a living by subscription.

    I wonder how popular eastenders will be when people have to choose to pay for it.

  77. This post has been deleted by its author

  78. Gareth Gouldstone
    Thumb Up

    There would be no decent TV ...

    ... if the BBC ceased to exist. They set a standard for the commercial broadcasters with their Public Service remit. Without the BBC there would be no high quality factual programming, and all channels would have commercial breaks every 3 minutes, as is increasingly the case on satellite and cable. The BBC sets a gold standard for quality television across the globe, and we have to fund it in a non-commercial way to allow it to continue to exist. I don't necessarily agree with the WAY the licence fee works, but i do believe it has to exist in SOME form. A subscription-based platform may well have to be considered for the majority of BBC channels. This would be more democratic and allow overseas viewers to contribute toward the upkeep of our elderly Auntie!

  79. Simon B

    fk the bbc

    How about fk off. Why do the BBC get to charge me for their channels, when everyone else gives me the option; pay and watch or don't pay and don't watch. They should be made to have adverts the same as every other channel in the fking world.

  80. Trygve

    The BBC costs £11.88 a month and 90% of it is tripe

    Eastenders? Celebrity Xfactor on Ice? Alan's Apprentice Arselicker? All shite. Don't want.

    BBC News - a few talking heads regurgitating 24/7 what comes in on the Reuters/AP/Bloomberg newsfeeds and any press releases they've received. CNN/Sky News copied by civil servants. Don't want.

    Only things they broadcast worth watching are a few nature docs and a bit of comedy. All the real gold from the archives like Yes Minister, Reggie Perrin etc. you have to pay for on DVD - despite having funded its making in the first place. Thiving gits.

    As for the notion that they're ad-free - only if you don't count the endless BBC 'idents' and trailers. Anyone who seriously wants ad-free TV can buy a PVR for less than the cost of 1 years licence fee.

    Unbiased? A laughable assertion.

    Bollocks to the lot of them. Make it all subscription-only and see how they get on, if they are so bloody marvellous. They can join all the other turds jostling for position in the Freeview/FreeSat/Sky shit-torrent pouring into the nations living rooms.

  81. Anonymous Coward

    Porcess of a Tv license officer visit:

    I personally am covered by a license, but if you're THAT desperate to get it free:

    "Hello. We think you're watching TV without a license."

    "No I'm not!"

    "Can we come in and check?"

    "Got a warrant?"



    (Note, you should probably censor that last line ;))

    Send your TV to your mate's house for a week, wait for 'em to come back with a warrant, then get the TV back after they're gone. el problemo is solved.

    Or just, y'know, pay the license fee.

  82. It wasnt me

    @Mark -00:06, long rant

    Well said sir. Couldn't agree more. And I couldn't have worded it better.

    If the BBC doubled the license fee it would still be far better value than any of the other options.

    I thought that there might be a more blaanced discussion on this site, but theres obiously more freetards than I bargained for

  83. Chippy-Minton

    Battery operated.

    Great, I can drag my inverter pack from my camper van and it'll happily run a 24" monitor all evening and charge up during the day...

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC are worse than Scientology

    Think about it, everyone has to pay, they pump out mind numbing drivel, and if you try and leave they send round the enforcers to get you to come back to the fold :)

    Yes, the BBC is a cult. The Bollocks Broadcasting Cult.

  85. ElFatbob

    what concerns me is...

    how this tax might be implemented.

    The problem for me is if they blanket charge anyone who has broadband on the basis that they 'can' watch the p(i)shPlayer.

  86. greg
    Thumb Down

    you think thats bad?

    I paid 25 quid to watch the Amir Khan boxing match - you'd expect it to have NO adverts... no, they crammed adverts in at every opportunity! Cheeky wankers!

    I would rather pay £140p/a then have to sit through 15 minutes of adverts in a 45 minute show. I fucking hate adverts that much.

  87. Tim Mackenzie

    IPlayer: TV Licence holders or paying customers only

    It can't be beyond the wit and wisdom of the BBC to apply some kind of access restriction to their IPlayer service. Either a registered and valid UK TV licence number or payment details for extracting a nominal fee per item watched.

    Appropriate negotiation of royalties contracts would probably be necessary to avoid mardy performing types going out on strike (a-la Hollywood recently), but I see no reason why such a system can't be implemented.

  88. A J Stiles

    Should have scrambled the programmes

    I understand the importance of the TV licence, and I don't begrudge paying it for a minute.

    As far as most broadcasters are concerned, we aren't the customers -- advertisers are the real customers, and viewers are just the scraps of meat they are fighting over. The advertisers are taking a gamble that somebody will see their advert and then go on to buy their product; the broadcasters take the advertisers' stake money, and use it to make programmes as bait to draw in an audience for the adverts.

    However, as far as the BBC are concerned, viewers are the customers: we pay the BBC to make programmes. There's a world of difference between watching BBC programmes without paying the licence fee (which is a form of low-level fraud) and watching ITV / Ch4 / Ch5 without buying the products advertised (which is just the advertisers betting on the wrong horse).

    What I really can't understand is, why didn't they mandate Conditional Access Modules on all digital receiving equipment from day one? BBC content could then be broadcast scrambled, and if you didn't buy a viewing card then you wouldn't get a picture. Audio could be transmitted "in the clear" for the benefit of blind people, without fear that their sighted carers might be watching programmes they had not paid for.

    It's true that there would be a shift from pay-per-address to pay-per-set, which would create winners and losers; but that's the nature of things. A person living alone with a set in the living room and another one in the bedroom could always swap one viewing card between sets as they moved around. There could even be limited-hours viewing cards for people who don't watch much TV.

    (Oh and please, no dodgy software-driven CAMs for PCs either -- proper hardware devices, please, where you bung out an encrypted stream and a decrypted stream comes back. Works with any OS, on any hardware, and the whole thing isn't rendered useless the minute someone disassembles the closed binary blob.)

  89. Anonymous Coward


    Whats with some of the freetards comments, this isn't about getting shit for free its about having a choice to not get reamed for £140 squid a year.

    The right to choose whether I want to watch BBC or not - thats what the Brits are denied, its fucking mind boggling, we must seriously be the biggest fucking laughing stocks on this fair planet, and we deserve it because we've been sucking aunties dick for close to a century.

    If I dont drive a car - I dont pay to drive a car

    If I dont use the web - I dont pay to use the web

    If I dont want to eat MacDonalds - I don't pay to eat MacDonalds

    See where this is going. Go on I'll finish it off, just can't help myself;

    If I don't watch the BBC - I STILL pay to watch the BBC.

    Abso - fucking - lutely marvellous!

  90. Steve Liddle

    tempted to dump the tv

    Got a tv off, tempted to give it away, it works ok, but terrestrial channels are losing signal most of the time, the freeview seems ok and apart from the odd movie, road wars seems to have the best signal, not that find it much fun.

    Iplayer is installed, but not used it this year either

    Computer tax is non workable, what happens if you buy the components off the net, are the vendors supposed to tell the BBC that you bought stuff to make one ?

  91. Kate


    I'm an Aussie, so I don't have to pay for a licence for my tellies. But I am also a Radio Amateur, and the thought occurred to me 'what about tellies modified to only receive ham band TV?' I pay a AU$62.00 a year fee for my ham licence which covers all my transceivers, including any TV transmitter/receiver systems I build or modify. If I was in the UK, would I need a seperate TV licence for a TV I had retuned to ham bands only? That being the only telly in the house.

    (Smug bitch icon needed)

  92. Anonymous Coward

    Broadband BBC OnDemand

    First Method

    There should be a Worldwide licence fee/subscription to view the iplayer/BBC streams. Each licence would allow 1 HD Stream at any one time. The cost would be lower as it was per allow 1stream rather than per TV - More in line with Spotify.

    All licences are then pooled. Any licence that is currently not in use - can be accessed for free, but with the prospect of being booted off the service if all free pooled licences are suddenly in use. A daily limit of 1 hour continuous streaming would be available, after which point your disconnected. You can reconnect for free if there are available licences in the pool.

    This would be give the maximum coverage to the population but being fair regarding usage/generated fees. It would illiminate the need for TV licence checking in the long run.

    Second method

    Work with the ISPs / Government to improve Broadband infrastructure at the expense of investing in more TV transmitters. A basic broadband package would be the same cost as the basic licence fee. This would allow streaming of 2 HD Programmes 24-7, or 4 lower resolution programmes. The excess bandwidth (when not watching TV) could be used for internet access. Internet access while streaming 2 HD would be charged at a premium / taken from existing allowance - then charged fees on top. The government /BBC would fund this as a minimum broadband package. Unused bandwidith could be sold by the ISP to improve the overall package for Heavy Users.

    As Radio Transmitters become due for replacement they are superceeded by Broadband.

    Certain areas are then switched off - Cities - and transmitters are used to repair more rural areas, until full Broadband TV is achieved.

    Any refinements / comments on this welcome (or even errors in my implementation)

    Note I currently only have Broadband - don't have a TV. (Built in tuner etc) I have physically removed the aerial wire from my house (because of all the hassle from tv licencing) I live in a valley. I do occasionally watch iplayer - (last-yellowstone series) /channel4 (grand designs) catch up. ITV catchup (Moving wallpaper). I avoid any live streams- ie. News 24/channels etc (to comply). I regularly buy DVD's instead. Any good BBC Series I just get on DVD. I also rent latest Movies (Postal rental) & a regular cinema goer. I read / head for long walks/chats(I'm near the coast) after work. I love cooking so spend more time on this instead of watch TV. I

    really haven't time to watch TV as well, but understand why others might think I should pay to watch iplayer.

    Personally I recommend it - get of of the bloody box (life is so much better)

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe it's...

    content related rather than hardware related?

    Were the content right then the hardware would be more attractive even if transparently so.

    But at the moment after all these years of HD tv hardware where is the content at meaningful price and availability.

    I feel sorry for those who may have purchased an HD ready tv years ago at over 1000 GBP only to find a revised 1020 standard and superior performance from sub 200 GBP tv.

    And, of course, such early adopters have been inundated with quality materials to watch (NOT!) [as Borat might put it]

    Add a dash of doubt that standard def has been crapped up to make HD a bit better looking and, well, who would like to make a commitment?

  94. Mark

    FFS, I'm back...

    ...but can't be arsed to write as much this time.

    Anyway: re comments like:

    "Whats with some of the freetards comments, this isn't about getting shit for free its about having a choice to not get reamed for £140 squid a year.

    If I don't watch the BBC - I STILL pay to watch the BBC."

    Right. As I said, reach of BBC services tends towards 95% per month. I can't therefore claim you're lying, because you could be one of the 5% which research suggests doesn't directly consume BBC output.

    But there's no way everyone who claims that doesn't consume something from the BBC. I for instance, have never downloaded music illegally. To do so would be most outrageous...

    And quite why we think we're the only country to have a licence fee is beyond me. We're not. It's not perfect - I never said that - but it's pretty good for raising funds to pay for a British-based broadcasting system that's more independent than most.

    (Is there some kind of alert system that tells all licence-feetards - sorry, provocateurs - that there's a discussion going on that they should crash? I don't believe the ratio of comments here. I don't care. Make all the heat and noise you want - you're just wasting energy.)

    Put it to a vote - and I'd happily see this - and I bet most people in Britain would vote FOR it compared to other options. It's not a perfect slogan, I admit - "The BBC - it's better than the alternatives" but at least it's honest and accurate.

    A dirverse broadcasting landscape naturally produces a more diverse set of allegiances. But for the reasons I made this time yesterday, the BBC should really hold a special place in our hearts. (Here's a clue again: it's in the first B. And for unicast-tard, here's another: it's in the second B too.)

    Could the BBC be smaller? Undoubtedly. Would it therefore cost less? Probably. Would it be as good? Possibly. I'm not saying it's flawless. I'm saying it's better than the rest, that most readers of this owe it a bigger debt of gratitude than they are aware, and that, like Opal Fruits, you'd miss it when it's gone. We certainly wouldn't invent this model today - but maybe that should be part of the attraction?

    [And unlike most other comments here I've tried to avoid the negative stereotype (but now of course can't) - eg Murdoch/unpaid taxes; ITV/commercial pressures; ILR/coma-inducing output; etc, etc.]

  95. Mithvetr
    Thumb Down

    MORE advertising? No thanks...

    I don't like having to pay the licence fee, I freely admit - but I promise, the day the BBC goes self-funding and starts carrying ads is the day I give up on TV altogether. I don't watch much as it is, since there's relatively little on worth paying attention to, and when a series I like shows up I tend to wait until it's out on DVD and then buy it. Sure, I still have to pay the licence fee, and yes, that's annoying. But it's still better than having to sit through five minutes of brain-dead adverts WITH THE VOLUME SET TOO HIGH for every two minutes of the programme. And all those who preen themselves on having Sky+, well bully for you: I'll be interested when it automatically cuts out ads. Yeah, right - like the marketing execs would ever allow such a machine to be sold...

    The usual follow-up is, well, adverts are great, because they mean we can watch for free! Sure. Great, like you say. Which is why you're paying *how much* for your satellite subscription - and STILL having to sit or spin through incessant advertising?

    Don't like adverts. Don't want adverts. If I want a product I'll go looking for it, and at THAT point I'm interested in companies' flannel about why their version is better than anyone else's. Until then, take your ads and shove them. Most advertising only serves to remind me who never ever to buy from (I'm looking at you, Safestyle UK). Internet ads I block with Firefox. I don't know why everyone doesn't do it. And then, when the free-access Internet model collapses because no-one's getting any ad revenue... well, boo hoo: I'm sure we'll all find something else to do with our time.

  96. Anonymous Coward

    @FFS, I'm back...

    But you wrote a piece anyway :)


    And quite why we think we're the only country to have a licence fee is beyond me. We're not. It's not perfect - I never said that - but it's pretty good for raising funds to pay for a British-based broadcasting system that's more independent than most.


    I sure don't remember paying a TV licence where I live, and we certainly don't have any Stasi razzias being held round houses to check if we have a bloody license for anything either.

    What we used to have was called "Kijk en Luistergeld", or "Watch and Listen money" if you fancy direct translations. The description was later changed to "Omroepbijdrage", or "Broadcast levy" if you will.

    The whole thing was abolished on January 1st, 2000 in favour of a 1.1% point increase on income tax instead, which was going to happen anyway as it does every other year or so.

    What you DO pay for, if you choose to get a 'live' TV signal that is, is the subscription fee of your chosen TV provider's offerings you pick. Listening to Radio is free, by the way.

  97. Cortland Richmond

    Eschew Content!

    Or watch overseas streams, eh?

  98. Trygve


    "Right. As I said, reach of BBC services tends towards 95% per month. I can't therefore claim you're lying, because you could be one of the 5% which research suggests doesn't directly consume BBC output."

    Are you a BBC shill or are you just a moron?

    We're all PAYING 140 quid a year to fund a tidal wave of content which the BBC pumps out via dozens of TV channels, radio stations, magazines, books and whatnot in an effort to justify it's existence. The whole country is wall-to-wall with BBC material WE'VE PAID FOR, of course 95% of us encounter 5 mins of BBC radio/TV or a paragraph of web content in a month. Do you expect us to walk around with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears in order to make some obscure point?

    I listen to half an hour of Radio 2 every morning and average maybe 1 hour of BBC TV a week. Why not? I'm being billed £12/month for it anyway.

    To me, the BBC is worth maybe £3.50/mo and if I had a choice I'd rather give up the BBC completely than pay more than that. But I don't get a choice because the BBC knows most people think its poor value for money and therefore won't let us choose.

  99. Anonymous Coward


    As someone who regularly watches TV on the internet, having no actual TV myself as I can't afford to pay the license fee, I can't wait to see this fail spectacularly.

    If the BBC want money they should just run ads like everyone else.

  100. Jeremy Wickins

    For me the killer argument is ...

    ... coverage of Formula 1 without adverts! Utter bliss, and worth the £12 per month to me.

  101. Mark

    Ok, well, I tried not to.

    "We're all PAYING 140 quid a year to fund a tidal wave of content which the BBC pumps out via dozens of TV channels, radio stations, magazines, books and whatnot in an effort to justify it's existence. The whole country is wall-to-wall with BBC material WE'VE PAID FOR, of course 95% of us encounter 5 mins of BBC radio/TV or a paragraph of web content in a month. Do you expect us to walk around with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears in order to make some obscure point?"

    Yes, well done, you can't escape it can you? Not surprising considering it's so well-funded. And why's it so well-funded? Because of a compulsory tax. Hence it's everywhere.

    Ah. The argument is circular. In fact - and to make Reg readers succumb to their very early memories of computer science - it's almost tautological.

    (Have you all just succumbed in your pants?)

    Anyway, you don't generally measure reach at random. For instance, radio requires you to fill in a tedious diary of 15-minute listening. TV is measured by a box in your living room. And web sites are measured by some mystical, ooh-it's-all-made-up mechanism, aren't they?

    My point is: the BBC's reach is established not by those who glance upon its content, or who acknowledge it exists, but generally by those who admit to consuming it.

    I could go on but the way the Reg's articles work, most of you by now aren't reading, so WTF.

    If you are, please reply. I'm just bored at work. And trying to defend something British.

  102. Paul

    Money laundering

    The licence fee is a pile of nads. They give a big bit of the fee back to the government, then they pay for infrastructure which is sub-let to other companies anyway.

    They then make TV programmes which get given gratis by the non-profit Beeb to BBC Worldwide who can then make a profit on DVD sales...

    That was my understanding of it a few years back, anyway.

    ...I doubt they're really missing out on iPlayer money - maybe the government is whining that their cut is lower? :)

  103. Rich

    It's a subscription model each way

    If they have ISPs monitor whether people watch the BBC content and demand payment, then only those who watch the content will pay.

    That's the same model as encoding the feeds and giving subscription keys to anyone buying a license, or in the traditional world, making it an paid option on Sky, etc.

    Either way, they only get pounds from those who actively want the service.

    Or, they just get the government to pay them out of general taxation, like the (Australian) ABC.

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