Should BBC charge for iPlayer?

BBCDominic Lipinski/PA Wire

If you thought you already paid for the BBC through your licence fee, then think again, because there are proposals to make you pay even more - by charging for using the BBC iPlayer.

But is this fair?


The plan is to add more to the iPlayer, including more of the archive. The idea would be to charge people for viewing the archive on a pay-per-view basis. There are no details as yet on how this would work, or what we would be charged, but the broad aim would be to have it all in place by 2016.

The outcry

There has been something of an outcry. The argument is that the BBC is a public service that we have already funded, so it's utterly wrong to make us pay again for it.

Emma Boon, Campaign Director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, told the Daily Mail: "The idea of creating a paid for BBC archive is worrying as it could create a two-tier licence fee."

"TV and radio audiences already pay for BBC content through their TV licence and while it is unreasonable to expect the Beeb to make all programmes available forever on the iPlayer, it doesn't seem fair to charge for content twice."

She has a point. In principle her point is bang on. It's not strictly fair.

Hang on...

However, it's hard to be too upset by all of this. The iPlayer has genuinely changed the way many of us watch television. Without having to fork out a small fortune for more channels or for smart recording, we can watch any BBC programme whenever we want, as often as we want - assuming we want to watch it soon enough after its first airing.

Of course we pay for the licence, but it works out at about £12 a month. What else can you get for that small sum? You couldn't even get a couple of people into many cinemas nowadays. In return for our £12 we get a world-beating news service, multiple channels, radio stations and websites: it adds up to hours of entertainment every day.

The BBC isn't aiming to make any money from expanding the service, it only wants to charge enough to cover its costs.

And if we didn't want to pay any more we can just ignore the service. We can just carry on paying what we currently pay and getting exactly what we get at the moment.

When you look at it like that, its hard to get even lukewarm under the collar. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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