BBC Set to Keep License Fee, But iPlayer Loophole to Close

By Gary Cutlack on at

The government's plans to refresh/rip up the BBC are set to be announced today, when the culture bods reveal the long awaited White Paper consultation doc on how the corporation needs to change.

According to the BBC's own in-house spies, the broadcaster's charter is set to receive an 11-year renewal, backed by an equivalent extension to the UK's license fee requirement. One big change that'll hit non-payers is the closing of the catch-up loophole, where everyone in the UK can stream iPlayer content by simply lying a bit when a checkbox pops up -- iPlayer content will, eventually, require a licence fee to access, to ensure viewers really have paid up.

Other amendments to the BBC's charter include the axing of its current overseeing Trust in favour of a new board regulated by renowned regulator Ofcom, the publication of the salaries of any stars earning more than £450,000 per year, and an inflation-linked annual licence fee rise between 2017 and 2022.

The most disruptive rumoured possible plans -- allowing ITV to demand it stops putting popular programmes on at the same time as its popular programmes, plus forcing it to slice off some licence fee to fund public service content on other channels -- have not made the cut. The White Paper ought to be revealed today, ahead of some parliamentary debate and eventual signing later this year.

Meanwhile, some BBC staff are to be sent to Birmingham, where half of BBC3's content will eventually be produced -- and a new youth news team established, to report on the things kids like, like... reconstituted chicken and mobile game adverts. [BBC]

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