BBC iPlayer users to be charged licence fee, while TV licence is set to rise
Viewers of the BBC’s online catchup service, iPlayer, will have to pay to watch programmes from 2017.
The government has announced that online viewers, who currently use the iPlayer service for free to catch up on shows that have already been broadcast, will have to pay the same licence fee as TV users, which currently stands at £145.50/year.
You will only have to buy one licence fee regardless of whether you watch the BBC online and/or via a traditional TV set.
But it’s worth noting that if you watch other channels’ catchup services online, you won’t need to pay a licence fee - this is only payable if you watch live TV via a traditional TV set, if you watch live TV online, or if, from 2017, you watch iPlayer online.
Licence fee set to rise
The licence fee itself, which has been frozen since 2010, is also set to rise.
It’s estimated that this means prices will rise to £148 in 2017/18, £151.50 in 2018/19, £154.50 in 2019/20, £157.50 in 2020/21, and £160.50 in 2021/22 – in line with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) projections.
The Government says this increase is necessary so that the BBC can “continue to provide high quality, distinctive content for all audiences”.
Those aged 75 and over will continue to get the licence for free until the end of this parliament, although there’s no guarantee what will happen after this. Those aged 75 and over will also be able to make voluntary payments towards the licence if they wish.
The government is also going to investigate whether to introduce some form of verification process to use iPlayer. It says this will improve enforcement and allow BBC content to be ‘portable’ – meaning licence fee payers could watch programmes abroad, something that isn’t currently available.
Office for Budget Responsibility
Formed in May 2010, the OBR makes an independent assessment of the public finances and the economy, the public sector balance sheet and the long-term sustainability of the public finances. The OBR has four man priorities: to produce two forecasts a year for the economy and public finances, to judge the progress the government has made towards meetings its fiscal targets, to assess the long-term sustainability of the public finances and to scrutinise the Treasury’s costing of Budget measures.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).
The Consumer Price Index is the official measure of inflation adopted by the government to set its target. When commentators refer to changes in inflation, they’re actually referring to the CPI. In the June 2010 Budget, Chancellor announced the government’s intention to also use the CPI for the price indexation of benefits, tax credits and public sector pensions from April 2011. (See also Retail Prices Index).