The BBC has finally managed to close the "loophole" that previously allowed people without a TV licence to watch BBC television programmes on-demand using the iPlayer.
As of today a TV licence is required by anyone watching the merest flicker of an on-demand television programme on the BBC iPlayer. Of course anyone without a TV licence can still legally use the BBC iPlayer to listen to BBC radio or watch S4C on-demand television programmes - not that the average Capita TV Licensing goon will understand the finer intricacies of the new legislation.
This particular piece of legislation is poorly drafted, unnecessary, unworkable and unenforceable - just as we've been saying all along. The number of people that were previously watching the BBC iPlayer without a valid TV licence was infinitesimally small. The former Secretary of State, John Whittingdale, has succumbed to the BBC's relentless lobbying and legislated to solve a problem that barely existed. In doing so he has probably created more problems for the BBC than he has solved.
Despite its pretence to the contrary, the BBC lacks the technology, resources and legal authority needed to enforce the new legislation. The BBC cannot snoop of people's private internet browsing habits and it is not legally entitled to that information from the internet service providers. Indeed the internet service providers have made it quite clear that they would protect their customers' online privacy. Even if TV Licensing had a warrant to search an unlicensed property (exceptionally rare as that is), they would not have the legal right to examine any password protected equipment for evidence of iPlayer use.
The law is the law and we'd encourage anyone wishing to receive BBC iPlayer on-demand television programmes to ensure they are correctly licensed to do so.
However, here are a few perfectly legal ways anyone without a TV licence can still watch their favourite BBC iPlayer on-demand programmes:
- Search for the content on video sharing sites like YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. The chances are someone has already uploaded a copy of last night's The Great British Bake Off, which you can enjoy without a TV licence.
- Get a licensed friend or colleague to download your favourite programmes from the BBC iPlayer and share them with you.
- Take your laptop or tablet to a licensed friend's property and download your favourite BBC iPlayer programmes. Take them home and enjoy them at your leisure.
- With your licensed neighbour's permission, sit outside in their garden and use their wi-fi to connect to web and use the BBC iPlayer. Better still sit outside in your licensed neighbour's garden and use your own wi-fi to connect to the web and use the BBC iPlayer.
- Take your laptop or tablet to a licensed place offering free wi-fi access - for example, the local pub or fast food restaurant.
If you can think of any others please add them in the comments below and we'll add the suggestions into the article.
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