It was announced a little while back, but from the September 1st it became mandatory to have a TV licence if you want to access any content on the BBC iPlayer. Up until this month, a licence was only required if you wanted to watch live programmes via this medium as well as on your television, but with both government and the BBC wanting to close this loophole, this new measure has been on the cards for a while now. Even though this will only effect around 6% of households in the UK, a large proportion of those who only watch TV online are young people and students and it is within these groups that authorities are attempting to raise awareness about the new rulings. So what exactly does this mean for iPlayer users and what other options are available?
Up until the September 2016, it was legal to watch programmes on the BBC iPlayer after broadcast (on their catch-up service) without having to purchase a TV licence. From now on, viewers accessing the iPlayer service will be asked if they have a current TV licence before they can view any content, although TV Licensing authorities are yet to make it clear how they will enforce this new rule. A spokesperson has said, “We are not going to use mass surveillance techniques, we are not going to ask internet providers for IP addresses, and in fact, we will simply use existing enforcement processes and techniques which we believe to be adequate and appropriate.”
Buy a TV Licence
Obviously, if you’re planning on continuing to access to content available on the BBC iPlayer then you need to get a TV licence. The annual fee currently stands at £145.50, but you can spread the cost by paying in monthly instalments (see the TV Licence site for more details). In some cases, students might be covered by parents’ household TV licences so it’s well worth checking out their site for more details if you suspect this might affect you.
And buying a TV licence not only lets you continue viewing all your favourite shows in a legal capacity, but the money will also go towards making the shows you enjoy. So everyone wins!
Use Other Subscription Services
However, if you’re a student who isn’t covered by a home TV licence, or don’t have the extra money to pay, you might decide to sacrifice this form of BBC content and stick to other subscription services that you think represent better value for money. Using Amazon voucher codes can get you access to all the information you need about their Amazon Instant Video service that lets you view hundreds of movies and TV shows as well as original content, and signing up to their Amazon Prime service at the same time can get you an even better value package deal. Netflix is another option offering a similar level of content for a small monthly subscription fee, or you could choose to access pay as you view TV shows and films on your device with Google Play and iTunes and YouTube.
But you might not know that the BBC itself offers another option. The recently launched online BBC Store lets you buy and download BBC content to keep on your devices, and if you are only using the iPlayer service to watch your already-purchased BBC Store content then you do not require a TV licence
Other Catch-Up Services
There’s no reason to sign up to any more monthly subscription services if don’t want to, because even though you require a TV licence to watch programmes from all channels on your set, you don’t need one to watch content from other channel’s online services on your digital devices. So even if you choose to not buy a TV licence, you can still watch live and catch-up programmes on services such as ITV Hub and All4.
So if you are one of the small percentage who don’t currently have a TV licence, you’ll be pleased to hear there are still plenty of options available when short of funds or if you think the iPlayer service might not represent the best value for money. And if you fancy upgrading your tablet, phone, laptop, or even think it’s time to invest in a new TV set (with licence too of course), Argos can provide you with plenty of choice and value.
By Anna Scott, 3rd September 2016