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BBC Trust consultation finds strong public support for iPlayer loophole closure

Respondents to a recent public consultation about the BBC's future were "strongly in favour" of closing the so-called iPlayer loophole, which allows viewers to watch BBC content without paying for it, according to the BBC Trust, which has released its findings today.

A total of 11,583 people responded to the Tomorrow's BBC consultation from the BBC Trust. Responses came via Twitter, the official online form, by telephone and 'snail mail'.

Closing the iPlayer loophole will be worth an estimated £100 million a year by 2021/2022, helping reduce the amount of cuts that the BBC will announce this spring. Already sporting coverage including F1 have fallen victim to the first round of cuts, caused by the BBC receiving less income than originally expected thanks to the loophole.

“If you are going down the mobile route (i.e. away from TV sets) then you need to charge people for internet delivery (at least as part of the licence fee) rather than allowing people who don't access your content through a TV set to get it for free.” - One response received by the BBC Trust on the iPlayer loophole

According to the BBC Trust, respondents to the consultation wanted the BBC to remain a 'something for everyone' broadcaster and continue to appeal to the entire UK population with services and content that are accessible, interesting and relevant to all people regardless of age, location or internet access. But respondents were concerned that the creation of new dedicated services for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would come at the expense of existing UK-wide services.

Overall, the majority of respondents said they were supportive of the BBC’s future plans with strong support for the curated digital educational platform, the Ideas Service, and for the dedicated online children’s platform iPlay, all announced last year by BBC Director General Lord Hall. However, in line with the BBC Trust's previous consultation, respondents said they "greatly valued" existing BBC services and they" expressed concern that the financial impact of introducing new initiatives might mean losing BBC services and programming they love," according to the Trust.

This was the second and final phase of the Charter Review consultation conducted by the Trust as part of its commitment to ensure licence fee payer’s views are at the forefront of the Government’s mind when it comes to determine the BBC’s future later this year. The BBC Trust says it has  shared the consultation outcome with the BBC Executive and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which was running a separate consultation on the BBC's future last year.

Rona Fairhead BBC Trust Chairman said:
"Over 50,000 people have responded to our two consultations and they have been clear that their future BBC must deliver the services and programmes they value, while continuing to innovate and do more to reflect the whole UK population. These findings will inform our discussions with Government and ensure the views of Licence Fee payers are heard in the Charter debate."

Read the full report here... 
(External website)


  1. I guess you will end up having to give your isp your tv licence number so they know that they can unblock iplayer at your address or the like? And any other Internet devices regestered at your address no matter what name they are actually in.
    People could find that public wifi may no longer include access to iplayer via this method!

    1. Or it could work like Now TV or Sky Go where your TV licence entitles you to access the service on a restricted number of devices...

    2. It needs to work for an entire household though so that's why I'm thinking on the Internet connection rather than on devices! You pay the licence for your premises to licencedo not for so many devices!

    3. Perhaps they will change the conditions of the Licence to reflect the modern circumstances. When the TV Licence was established the social/cultural/technological situation was considerably different to what the reality is today. Change the TV Licence to reflect that, so it allows you to receive TV broadcasts in your property, iPlayer on your devices (perhaps have a simple login linked to your licence / account), and other BBC products as necessary.

  2. Incidentally, how does BBC radio work with regard to licencing? Is it true you need a licence to receive any BBC station live? If that is the case, as the licence covers your property, what about receiving radio in a car, or out for a run, or at work?

    1. BBC Radio does not fall under the TV Licence. It's another reason why a household-based charge was suggested, to cover TV, Radio and Online methods of viewing/listening.

    2. You don't need a licence to recieve BBC radio, you haven't needed one fo many years.


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