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TV License Loophole?


Demitri_C
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Just wondering if anyone else has done or heard about this as my TV license is up

The BBC must fix the on-demand loophole in the licence feeThe corporation doesn't seem concerned about on-demand users slipping through the net, but they are a valuable source of revenue

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If viewers only ever watch on-demand TV, they can avoid paying the licence fee. But this could affect future series of Strictly ... Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

A year has passed since Mark Thompson shook hands on the swiftest licence fee settlement in the BBC's 89-year history. The ramifications of the six-year freeze, hammered out over 48 hours with Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, became clear this month – the corporation will shed 2,000 jobs as it tries to save £700m.

The deal – which fixed the licence fee at £145.50 until 2017 – left the BBC with a 16% real-term cut to the £3.5bn it receives annually via the levy. At the time it was hailed by the corporation as providing a semblance of long-term certainty for its funding arrangements. Yet there is a growing school of thought that an issue that was barely considered in the breakneck negotiations could pose a serious threat – the impact of technology upon the licence fee.

For most people it is a fairly simple equation – I own a television, and therefore I pay the licence fee. But the legislation governing the charge is somewhat more specific. In the language of TV Licensing, the body that the BBC contracts to collect the £145.50 fee: "The law states that you need to be covered by a TV licence if you watch or record television programmes, on any device, as they're being shown on TV. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and DVD/VHS recorders."

However: "No TV licence is needed if you don't … watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV – for example, if you use your TV only to watch DVDs or play videogames, or you only watch programmes on your computer after they have been shown on TV."

Catchup programming on the BBC iPlayer – via which more than 150m radio and TV programmes are accessed each month – falls into that second category. And while the BBC estimates that every week just 0.2% of adults use only computer catchup services while watching no other television, the next 12 months will see the advent of a new generation of internet-enabled TV devices.

The launch of YouView – the BBC-backed set-top box that will deliver programmes to the TV via a broadband internet connection – as well as the availability of similar services from Apple and Google, will offer viewers the chance to piece together their own schedules by cherry-picking on-demand programming.

This raises the possibility of an increasing number of consumers claiming that they do not watch live TV, but instead use their set to watch a patchwork of catchup services, and so do not meet the criteria necessitating the purchase of a TV licence.

Greg Dyke, the former BBC director general who carried out a review of the creative industries for Hunt, says the issue is real. "In the report we did point out this coming technical change, which would inevitably make collection of the licence fee on the same scale very difficult. This isn't a 'this week' question, but it is certainly a 'this decade' issue."

The Dyke report, which was never published, considered the options of subsuming the licence fee into general taxation, or adding it to council tax – not least because of the costs associated with administrating the levy. TV Licensing's most recent annual review shows that £126m was spent on collecting the fee in 2010, with a further £196m lost to evasion – accounting for a total of nearly 9% of the BBC's income.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, backs Dyke's view. "The biggest problem we have is when we get to the position when there are a larger number of people saying 'I don't watch live television. Should I have to pay for a licence fee?' We aren't there yet, but it doesn't mean it won't happen."

The BBC, fearful of the inevitable attacks from commercial and political rivals that accompany any debate about the licence fee, insists that nothing needs to change. A spokesman for the corporation says: "Since there is almost no one who only watches 'catchup' but no live television, we believe the current system works very efficiently and do not see a need to change its scope at present."

The government, however, is not so dismissive. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport says it is actively considering whether a change in the law is needed. A spokesman says: "Government is aware of developing technologies and the changing viewing habits of those who watch television programmes. How the BBC is funded as these issues evolve is a matter the department will need to address in the near future."

The legislation governing the extent of the licence fee is the Communications Act, and Hunt's department is planning an update to the legislation, with a green paper due by Christmas. While the corporation may not wish to revisit the issue of how it derives its licence fee income, it may not have a choice.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/organgrinder/2011/oct/30/bbc-loophole-on-demand-licence-fee=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/organgrinder/2011/oct/30/bbc-loophole-on-demand-licence-fee

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Maybe its a test?

"Hello TV License people, I NEVER, EVER, EVER watch TV as it happens and will not be buying a license as a result"

=

99% you're trying to cheat the system and flagging yourself up as a con.

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Ireland is in the process of changing the 'TV' licence to be a more all-encompassing 'media' licence because they acknowledge that people are now watching series'/films on all manner of things within the household that aren't necessarily televisions. Meaning (horror of horrors) people can legitimately avoid the licence if they want. You won't beat us for screwing the people out of every possible cent and not allowing any loophole whatsoever. We're also in the process of introducing some other new taxes; one of which is the second to include the word 'universal' in its title that doesn't actually pay for anything in particular. Oh and we're all broke, so there's that too. #shithole

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This might come as a shock to you, but you have much MUCH better politicians. Spare a thought for us (and some spare change mister).

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read about this some time ago, the article gave pointers to help support your claim you don't receive tv broadcasts. so if you're checked on your ok, apparently they do checks, one was to remove your tv areal, or at least disconnect any areal cables, i have thought of doing it, i can't remember the last time i watched any broardcast tv, but it must have been a handful in the last 12 months, i often go months without putting the tv on to watch anything but dvd's. I really wouldn't miss the ability to watch tv as i so rarely do.

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Commercial television drives me nuts. I pay for SKY TV, broadband and telephone. I often wonder, why am I paying and being bombarded by adverts. 


I like the BBC, but to be honest I'm only really interested in their documentaries and news services. I still think a little under £12 a month is worth it. 

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A compliment from a foreigner if you will. The British give themselves and some of their institutions a hard time. Perhaps it's a national trait, I dunno. You have a wonderful thing in the BBC and also the NHS fwiw. Yet you give out constantly about them. Be careful what you wish for. You should be extremely proud of both.

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I never understand why people don't want to pay it, it is the best £3 a week I spend.<br /><br />My life would be half empty without the Beeb, TV, radio, news, web, downloading programmes. Even if I never actually watched live TV (which I rarely do these days) I'd still pay it. Compare it to SKY Subscription and the value for money is enormous

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You should be able to opt out of bbc viewing if you so wish. I would be happy just watching freeview and the net .

So you don't think the BBC is something worth supporting?
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You don't need to pay it anyway. There's no such thing as detection equipment that actually detects, and you are under no obligation to let them into your house, whatever the TV licence people think.

 

I am happy to pay it though. Well worth it for the likes of Africa this year.

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You should be able to opt out of bbc viewing if you so wish. I would be happy just watching freeview and the net .

So you don't think the BBC is something worth supporting?

Yes . Just not by the public. I have no qualms with advertising and it's not as if I have a say on how my money is spent either .The BBC is a bloated gravy train that is hardly head and shoulders above the free channels. When the bbc sells it's shows abroad and via dvds how come I am not getting any share dividends ? My funding made those shows yet I get nothing ? It's a big scam if you ask me .
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You should be able to opt out of bbc viewing if you so wish. I would be happy just watching freeview and the net .

So you don't think the BBC is something worth supporting?

Yes . Just not by the public. I have no qualms with advertising and it's not as if I have a say on how my money is spent either .The BBC is a bloated gravy train that is hardly head and shoulders above the free channels. When the bbc sells it's shows abroad and via dvds how come I am not getting any share dividends ? My funding made those shows yet I get nothing ? It's a big scam if you ask me .

If it were called a subscription not a license, that argument simply would not exist
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I never understand why people don't want to pay it, it is the best £3 a week I spend.<br /><br />My life would be half empty without the Beeb, TV, radio, news, web, downloading programmes. Even if I never actually watched live TV (which I rarely do these days) I'd still pay it. Compare it to SKY Subscription and the value for money is enormous

i agree about the point with sky they are a rip off. £81 for just BB and phone, tv package everything accept movies and entertainment extra. rip off have just cancelled

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