The BBC iPlayer loophole is closing tomorrow: Here's what you need to know

William Turvill
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TV Licence Will Soon Be Required To Watch The BBC iPlayer Catch Up Service
The licence fee currently costs £145.50 per year (Source: Getty)

The law around the licence fee is changing tomorrow. It is now illegal to watch BBC programmes on demand, including on the iPlayer, without paying the £145.50 annual fee.

Here is what you need to know:

Do I need to do anything if I already have a licence?

No. If your household is already covered to watch live TV, you are also able to watch the iPlayer also.

Read more: BBC exec: It's not in licence fee payer interest to know what stars earn

What if I don’t currently pay the licence fee?

If you want to watch the iPlayer legally, you will need to pay £145.40 for the annual licence fee if your household currently does not do so.

What if I don't pay the licence fee but carry on watching the iPlayer?

You risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 plus legal costs and/or compensation.

Does the law change apply to all devices and providers?

Yes. The licence fee website lists as examples:

  • TV sets (including smart TVs)
  • Laptops and desktop computers

  • Tablets, mobile phones and other portable devices

  • Digital boxes or PVRs (such as Sky, Virgin Media or BT Vision)

  • Games consoles

  • Media streaming devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Now TV)

  • Freeview, Freesat or YouView

Read more: Mobile traffic made up half of the BBC's records online Olympics viewing

How will the BBC know if I’m watching the iPlayer illegally?

We don’t know exactly. The Daily Mail today raises fears that policing of the new system could breach people’s privacy.

Technology expert David McClelland told the paper that the system may require officials to monitor domestic internet use.

He said: “I’m stumped as to how else a van outside my house would be able to tell if I’m watching Strictly Come Dancing in bed on my iPhone if it wasn’t looking at my Wi-Fi usage patterns.”

City A.M. has asked the BBC for more information on detection.

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