iPlayer: What you need to know about new TV licence rule

BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer

New legislation came into place on Thursday meaning viewers need a TV licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand through iPlayer.

Rule changes came into force ending a loophole which previously allowed watching programmes for free after they had been broadcast without the viewer having a licence.

Here are the key things you need to know about the new legislation.

• What are the new restrictions on watching TV programmes on iPlayer?

As of September 1, those wishing to watch on-demand shows - including catch-up - will need to have a valid TV licence. :: How is this different from before? There was a loophole which allowed people to view previously broadcast shows on catch-up without having a licence.

• Why do people need a TV licence?

In the UK, it is a legal requirement to have a licence to watch or record live TV programmes on the BBC and all other channels.

• How much is a TV licence?

The fee is £145.50 for 12 months for a standard colour licence and £49 for a black and white licence. This can be paid weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly.

• Can BBC shows be watched on other services?

Netflix - which has a monthly subscription fee - broadcasts several BBC series, including Happy Valley, Luther and Sherlock.

• What is the cost of Netflix compared with a TV licence?

After a free monthly trial, a Netflix Premium account costs £8.99 per month. A TV licence costs £12.13 monthly if paid in instalments. :: What if you watch iPlayer on devices other than a TV? The new legislation applies to all viewers wishing to use the service, whether that's on a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorder.

• Will students be affected?

Students are likely to be the most affected by the changes, as they are believed to mainly watch TV shows by catch-up on a variety of devices instead of TVs. No longer will they be able to watch programmes for free on catch-up using iPlayer. Students living in halls of residence or in shared accommodation are required to pay for a TV licence if they have a single tenancy agreement, but if a shared house has a joint tenancy agreement, just one licence will be needed between all occupants.

• What is the punishment for watching iPlayer without a TV licence?

Someone using the service without a licence faces prosecution, a fine of up to £1,000 and additional legal fees.

• What about other TV-on-demand services?

Britons will still be able to watch programmes on All 4, the ITV hub, Demand 5 and Netflix, among others, without a TV licence. They will still have to pay subscription fees applicable to some of these services.