IPLAYER users could soon watch their favourite TV shows for a whole year as telecoms regulator Ofcom has provisionally backed the BBC’s plans to up the time limit.
The changes, first proposed in January, aim to improve the value of the TV license fee for Brits, which currently costs £154.50 per year.
1 Ofcom has backed the BBC’s plans which mean you’ll soon be able to watch your favourite TV shows for a whole yearCredit: PA:Press Association
The BBC wants to change iPlayer from a 30-day catch-up service, to one where shows are available for 12 months as standard, and some even longer.
It won’t start charging extra for the service, as it’ll still be covered by the license fee.
The news comes as the BBC has been hit with competition from US streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, alongside UK services such as ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play and Now TV.
Over the last four years, the combined market share of Netflix and Amazon has grown from 36 per cent to 54 per cent, while BBC iPlayer’s share has more than halved.
Ofcom said it recognised that the broadcasting sector is evolving and audiences’ expectations changing, meaning the BBC “needs to keep change”.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licenceIN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.
In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
It said that the changes would create challenges for other public service broadcasters’ video-on-demand services, as viewers may switch to the BBC as their preferred platform.
But Ofcom added that they could also deliver “significant public value” over time.
Broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 usually allow viewers to watch their shows online for a maximum of 30 days after they aired, while Now TV customers can watch it for at least seven days.
Rivals now have until July 10 to have their say on Ofcom’s ruling and the final decision will then be given in August.
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “Having scrutinised the BBC’s plans for iPlayer and listened to industry feedback, as required under the Charter, we’ve provisionally concluded that the BBC can go ahead.
“We believe the changes will provide value to BBC viewers that would justify the effect on competition.
“But we’re proposing certain measures to safeguard fair competition and ensure the BBC delivers full public value.”
RIP-OFF PRICES Broadband suppliers charge £192 for your loyalty – how to avoid the hikes CREDIT CRUNCH Panorama finds consumers struggling to pay guarantor loans as debts near £1bn FEELING LUCKY Your paper could be worth £50,000! GRASS IS GREENER Lidl is selling a cordless lawn mower for just £150 and it’s a bargain SWITCHED OFF Furious viewers cancel TV licences in protest at BBC fee for over-75s BEEB ON BLAST Anger at BBC as 700k sign petitions demanding over-75s keep free TV licences
The news comes after the BBC announced that millions of pensioners who previously received a free TV licence will have to pay for it from next year.
It sparked outrage among Brits, and hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions calling on the broadcaster to scrap its plans.
But there are also ways to watch TV legally without a licence – here we explain how.
Ricky Tomlinson joins battle to save free TV licences for over-75s
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org