Sunday, July 31, 2016


The closing of the so-called iPlayer loophole was done without fanfare. It was laid before Parliament on 7th July, in the form of a Statutory Instrument which modifies the 2003 Communications Act. It doesn't require further approval, and will come into force on September 1st.

It widens the meaning of  'television receiver' to any apparatus installed or used for the purpose of receiving tv, whether by 'wireless telegraphy or otherwise', whether or not the apparatus is installed or used for any other purpose.

And, from September 1st you'll need a licence to watch (a) any television programme service, or (b) an on-demand programme service which is provided by the BBC.

So you will need a licence to watch or record any programmes being shown live on TV, or live via an online channel. This presumably includes live streams from non-UK operations; we could do with some clarity. And you'll need a licence if you access the BBC iPlayer through Freeview, Freesat, YouView, Sky, Virgin, BT or the boxes like Apple, Roku and Amazon.

If you're a student contemplating your options from next term, you won't need a licence if you only intend to download or watch S4C TV on demand on BBC iPlayer or listen to radio on BBC iPlayer. Downloading or watching programmes on demand from other providers is also ok - so you're safe with ITV Hub, All 4 or Demand 5, BT Vision, Virgin Media, Sky Go, Netflix, Now TV, Apple, Roku or Amazon as long as you don't go near the live streams or iPlayer.

I see an opportunity for someone to design a "Safe TV" Portal for students, with a one-minute delay built in for 'live streams'.  

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