The BBC is set to close the iPlayer ‘loophole’ sooner rather than later after culture secretary John Whittingdale branded free viewing “wrong”.
As it stands, iPlayer users are not required to hold a TV licence, as long as they do not access live content.
The BBC, which agreed to cover the government’s cost of providing free TV licenses to the over-75s in July last year, is looking to cut £650 million from its budget, which has so far seen them give up multiple major sporting contracts, including the Six Nations and Formula One.
The licence will be extended to include online content, and will save the corporation an estimated £100 million per year.
Whittingdale said, “When the licence fee was invented, video on demand did not exist. The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it.
“Giving a free ride to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, a day or a week after they are broadcast was never intended and is wrong.
“Having discussed this with the BBC and the BBC Trust, I will be bringing forward, as soon as practicable, secondary legislation which will extend the current TV licensing regime, not only to cover those watching the BBC live but also those watching the BBC on catch-up through the iPlayer.”