The closure of the so-called iPlayer loophole is an unenforceable PR stunt destined for failure, according to an influential television executive.
David Elstein, a former boss at ITV, Sky and Channel 5, has echoed the opinion of the TV Licensing Blog that the new system - whereby viewers will require a TV licence to watch or download on-demand BBC iPlayer programmes - will depend entirely on people's honesty, as the BBC does not possess the technology or legal authority needed to verify the TV licence status of iPlayer users.
Speaking to The Sunday Times (subscription), Mr Elstein said: "With iPlayer there is no means of detection and no means of enforcement so this [new law] is all a PR stunt designed to play on people’s sense of honesty and fair play."
Under current legislation a TV licence is only required for those properties where equipment is installed or used to receive TV programmes at the same time as they are broadcast to other members of the public.
This means that anyone only receiving on-demand programmes - which the viewer can watch or download at a time of their choosing - is currently exempt from needing a TV licence.
However, from 1st September 2016 a TV licence will be required to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer. As is currently the case, a TV licence will (still) not be required to watch or download on-demand programmes from other platforms, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV, ITV Hub, All 4 or My5.
We have previously discussed the impossible task the BBC faces in trying to enforce the new system, when it cannot legally access the internet records needed to verify the TV licence status of BBC iPlayer users.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed: "Enforcement of the licence fee is a matter for the BBC and TV Licensing.
"They do not have the power to acquire internet connection records. The government and the BBC are not seeking to change this."
The internet service providers have stated that they would not provide the BBC and TV Licensing with customer data unless required to by law.
Vodafone said: "Respecting our customers’ right to privacy is one of our highest priorities."
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