Government changes mean viewers of BBC iPlayer will have to pay full licence fee
A new Royal Charter for the Corporation has been unveiled in Parliament today with some major changes for catch up and online TV viewing.
According to the Charter no one will be able to legally watch the BBC on iPlayer without buying a television licence.
The change is designed to help the BBC recover the millions of pounds it has lost in revenue by viewers using a legal loophole to watch programmes for free on catch up and online.
However, the Culture Secretary said that in the long run the licence is “likely to become less sustainable” and would have to be overhauled entirely, leading some to predict that the BBC will eventually have to use advertising to fund itself, like commercial channels.
Other changes announced that will roll out on the BBC over the next eleven years announced today include the following:
A new obligation to provide “distinctive content” rather than just chase ratings. This could affect the Corporation’s ability to buy in hit shows from abroad.
A new obligation to promote diversity with 15 per cent of lead roles going to black and ethnic minority actors by 2020 and 50 per cent of lead roles going to women.
The salaries of all stars paid over £450,000 will have to be published.
The Corporation will now be regulated by Ofcom rather than the BBC Trust.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told MPs that “We want the BBC to thrive, to make fantastic programmes for audiences and to act as an engine for growth and creativity.”
“There has been a big debate about the future of the BBC. Searching questions have been asked about its role and its place in the UK.
“At the end, we have an 11-year Charter, a licence fee guaranteed for 11 years, and an endorsement of the scale and scope of what the BBC does today. The White Paper reaffirms our mission to inform, educate and entertain all audiences on television, on radio and online.”