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BBC to Begin Charging for its iPlayer Service Despite Users Already Paying License Fee

The changes are expected to be made around 2018.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro

The UK government has granted the BBC the right to begin charging users for its iPlayer service, which would presumably transform the free service into a monthly subscription service such as Netflix.

The change has been made due to many using iPlayer rather than paying for a BBC license, therefore overlooking the annual license fee that is mandatory for television owners in the UK. However, this change could also mean that those who already pay their license fee would be forced to pay for iPlayer, too, a move which will not go down well with those already forking out the cash necessary to legally watch TV in the region.

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The new paid model of the streaming service has been introduced in order to help the BBC overcome losses they will face when UK residents ages 75 and older no longer have to pay their license fee, a change that will begin in 2018 and will be fully implemented by 2021. It is expected that the BBC will lose $1 billion due to this alteration, though that certainly shouldn’t mean that TV license owners should be forced to pay out as a result of this.

Netflix

BBC iPlayer cannot compete with Netflix’s content. (Photo: Getty Images)

In all likelihood, if BBC introduces changes to iPlayer and forces current TV license owners to pay out, many will look to piracy as an alternate method of watching the broadcaster’s shows. Considering that more and more people are tuning out of terrestrial TV in favour of pirating shows and watching them on more robust streaming platforms such as Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Instant Video, introducing a paid subscription model for iPlayer would not be the way to go, and would come across as a slap in the face to current TV license holders.

Hopefully the BBC implements a system whereby iPlayer will be available for free to those who pay for their TV license, otherwise the broadcaster should anticipate an influx of complaints when these changes are made.