The Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale MP, has pledged to close the so-called 'iPlayer loophole', which currently allows TV viewers to enjoy on-demand content without a valid TV licence.
The BBC estimates that TV licence-free viewers of on-demand services will cost around £120m in lost revenue by 2020.
Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, Mr Whittingdale indicated that legislation to close the loophole could be in place by the summer Parliamentary recess.
Mr Whittingdale said: "When the licence fee was invented, video on demand did not exist.
"And while the definition of television in the legislation covers live streaming, it does not require viewers to have a licence if they watch BBC programmes through the iPlayer even if it is just a few minutes after transmission.
"The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it. Giving a free ride to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, a day or a week after they are broadcast was never intended and is wrong.
"Having discussed this with the BBC and the BBC Trust, I will be bringing forward, as soon as practicable, secondary legislation which will extend the current TV licensing regime not only to cover those watching the BBC live, but also those watching the BBC on catch-up through the iPlayer."
That last sentence perhaps leaves a glimmer of hope that the legislation may not extend to all broadcasters' online catch-up services.
Mr Whittingdale also discussed the threat posed to advertiser funded online news content by the rise in adblocking services.
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