Folks who opt out of paying for a TV licence may be denied access to iPlayer catch-up content, according to new plans.
While the BBC will have to shoulder a £650 million bill to pay for the TV licences of over 75s, it will be allowed to end the so-called iPlayer loophole.
Currently, you can opt out of paying for a TV licence while continuing to legally watch catch-up content on iPlayer. This means you’re able to watch BBC content without having to pay, but that could all change soon.
As plans emerge to make the BBC pay for the free TV licences enjoyed by over 75s in the UK, director general Tony Hall revealed details of a deal struck with the government.
Related: John Whittingdale’s plan to scrap the TV licenceHall said: “This agreement secures the long term funding for a strong BBC over the next charter period. It means a commitment to increase the licence fee in line with inflation, subject to charter review, the end of the iPlayer loophole and the end of the broadband ring-fence.”
One of the first policies enacted by the coalition government after 2010 saw the TV licence frozen for six years. Spun as a cost-saving measure, this has had the effect of sticking a real-time pay cut to the BBC, one side effect of which is the possible closure of BBC Three.
Subject to the charter renewal which will begin towards the end of this year, the licence fee will be allowed to go up.
As well as this, money which had been set aside for the digital switchover was funnelled into BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK), which has been used to upgrade the UK’s creaky old broadband connections – and BT has won every major contract so far.
BDUK aims to make sure 95 per cent of the country can order superfast broadband (24Mbps or more) by 2017. In their election manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to slice another £150 million from the licence fee pot to extend the reach of BDUK.
Now, the amount of money taken will be reduced to £80 million in 2017/18, then down to £20 million in 2018/19. It will be reduced by a further £10 million in 2019/20 and finally to nothing by 2021.
By 2021, the BBC will also be expected to have fully taken on the costs of licences for over 75s.