BBC iPlayer users could be forced to pay fee

BBC director general said extending licence fee to online viewers “worth considering”

Updated: 
BBC

The growing number of viewers who avoid the BBC's licence fee by watching content online could soon be forced to pay a charge.

The BBC's iPlayer service currently allows users to watch catch-up shows on their computer without having to pay the £145.50 annual fee.

It's an increasingly popular choice for many – especially younger viewers, with the regulator estimating that 16- to 24-year-olds spend half their viewing time on a tablet, smart phone or laptop rather than a TV.

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With so many viewers essentially skirting the fee by not watching live TV, the BBC's director general Tony Hall warned yesterday that the licence fee "could be modernised again so it applies to watching BBC programmes both live and on iPlayer.

Writing a column for The Mirror, he added: "This is for the Government to decide, but worth considering."

He also rejected claims that the licence fee should be an optional subscription so only those who watch BBC channels pay for it.

"In the age of iPlayer, YouTube, Twitter and free services online, some people say the licence fee has had its day," he said. "I think they are wrong.

"What is important is that the BBC offers something for everyone. That's the strength of the Licence Fee. All pay for it and everyone gets something in return."

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