Back in January 2008, Ashley Highfield claimed that:
…the number of homes that currently have no television licence, but that do have broadband subscription is currently estimated to be infinitesimally small.
It didn’t take a genius to recognize that this group would increase; in fact I said as much in December when I no longer needed a TV licence myself (although I still buy one). Unsurprisingly, as the ‘infinitesimally small’ group shows signs of increasing suggestions are being made about needing a licence for iPlayer content. According to the Daily Mail:
BBC technology chief Erik Huggers said: ‘My view is that if you are using the iPlayer you have to be a television licence fee payer.
‘I don’t believe in a free ride. If you are consuming BBC services then you have to be a licence holder.’
A fairly reasonable position in my view. In the changing world of television and news production and consumption we rely increasingly on services like the BBC to produce high-quality content; the commercial models are increasingly failing. In fact I would personally go further, arguing for an increase in the licence fee.
However, such a position puts me in opposition to the always-irrational Daily Mail. Until the BBC replace the ONE show with ‘Asylum Criminals: The truth about illegal immigrants’, the Daily Mail will always hate the Beeb. Huggers suggestion that iPlayer viewers pay a licence fee quickly gets expanded upon:
If he were to have his way, possible changes to the fee could include:
* Viewers having to buy an extra licence just for the iPlayer
* Increasing the cost of the current TV licence to include the iPlayer
* Forcing viewers to pay a subscription to use the iPlayer service
If Huggers was suggesting any of these changes the Daily Mail failed to include the appropriate quotes. It would be equally meaningful to say possible changes could include “Hanging for watching iPlayer without TV licence”; possible, but highly unlikely. The second suggestion “Increasing the cost of the current TV licence to include the iPlayer” is particularly stupid as the current TV licence already includes the cost of the iPlayer!
Obviously the Daily Mail readers read the article rationally and take the Daily Mail bias into consideration:
[Disclaimer: As a licence fee payer interested in quality TV and news I have a vested interested in the BBC. As a human being I have a vested interest in pointing out that the Daily Mail is a piece of crap written for idiots.]