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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

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Friday, 2 September 2016

Closing the iPlayer Loophole: Implications for the BBC News Website

The BBC News website has the potential to criminalise thousands of people by luring them into viewing its video news features.

Legislation taking effect from 1st September 2016 makes it an offence to receive "all or any part of a programme included in an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC" without a valid TV licence.

Every video published on the BBC News website is an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC, so legally speaking a person can now only view those videos if they have a valid TV licence.

No warning message is displayed prior to viewing these videos, so a licence-free person could easily fall foul of the ridiculous new rules.

Of course criminalising licence-free users of the BBC News website was probably never the BBC's intention, but inadvertently doing so is a further demonstration of how ill-conceived, poorly formulated and unenforceable the new legislation really is.

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Pleepsit Pants said...

If someone links a BBC news video to Face Book, for example, does viewing the video on Face Book make you foul of the legislation?

Admin said...

Yes it would, as the website (Facebook) is still pulling streamed data across that is provided on-demand by the BBC.
I think you can see it's a potential nightmare.
I have emailed TV Licensing asking for their comments on this. We will see what they say - chances are they won't know!

Chris said...

Are you sure about this? The update to the legislation covers use of iplayer, not just any video on the bbc site. Are those bbc news sidebar vids delivered specifically using iplayer? I don't think so.

TheManAtNumber40 said...

Under the new legislation as far as I am aware you DON'T need a TV licence is to view video clips published on the BBC News website (or any other short video clips provided by the BBC). The principal purpose of the BBC News website is to provide news stories and as such does not fall into the category of an "on-demand programme service" as defined by the relevant legislation (section 368A of the 2003 Communications Act).

Similarly the BBC iPlayer Radio service is not an "on-demand programme service" (as defined by the legislation) because it provides access to radio programmes, not to TV programmes.

As far as I can tell, currently the only BBC service covered by the new legislation that is an "on-demand programme service provided by the BBC" (as defined by section 368A of the 2003 Communications Act) is the BBC iPlayer (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv) service, i.e. the BBC television catchup service. Of course potentially there might be other such BBC services created in the future, but in the meantime the new legislation appears to apply only to television catchup provided specifically by the BBC iPlayer.

Admin said...

Hello Chris,
Every piece of legislation I've read makes no mention of the "BBC iPlayer" at all - only "on-demand programme services which are provided by the BBC".
I have emailed TV Licensing to ask for their opinions on this, so we'll see if they have a different interpretation.

Andy said...

In my case, closing the loop hole make no difference to me whatsoever as I don't even watch BBC bovine crap on the iPlayer.

Fred Bear said...

An interesting point, Admin. As you say, the new legislation (actually a Statutory instrument or secondary legislation) with the catchy title: The Communications (Television Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 does not mention iPlayer. It redefines the term 'television receiver' for use in the Communications Act 2003 (ie the law that governs TV licensing). The new defintion is:

“television receiver” means any apparatus installed or used for the purpose of receiving (whether by means of wireless telegraphy or otherwise)—

(a)any television programme service, or

(b)an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC,

whether or not the apparatus is installed or used for any other purpose.

[It's really weird that they still use the term "wireless telegraphy" - I guess they want to keep the ghost of Guglielmo Marconi happy.]

It looks like the BBC itself is choosing to limit the changes to BBC services received on the iPlayer. According to the TVL site:

"You don’t need a licence if you only ever watch on demand or catch up programmes on services other than BBC iPlayer* (and you also never watch live TV programmes on any channel, including on iPlayer)."

Chris said...

Thanks Fred, Peter, I wasn't aware of that. Do let us know what TVL says in reply to your question and please don't let them off with anything other than a crystal clear explanation.


Shady Pete said...

Bear in mind that Radio iPlayer is a separate service and remains unaffected by this legislation. The radio licence was abolished in 1971 and no licence is required to listen to radio broadcasts of any kind - over the air or via the internet.

Admin said...

I have just learnt that TV Licensing has passed my query to the BBC, which has decided to interpret it as a Freedom of Information request. I am not happy about that and have told the BBC. If it gets handled as a Freedom of Information request then based on previous form the BBC will probably piss around for months failing to provide the information.