Live stream hole in BBC licensing

The BBC will be disappointed that its launch of an iPlayer app for iPad and Android was firstly leaked by its own staff and has now been overshadowed in the press by reports that it has no way of stopping licence fee evaders watching live TV on their devices.

A report in The Telegraph points out viewers using the app don’t have to buy a licence or register a licence number and are unlikely to be caught as the necessary tracking technology is not in place.

Nevertheless the BBC claims it will prosecute anyone watching via alternative devices without a £145.5 (€172) licence fee, although it admitted it did not have a separate enforcement strategy from broadcast TV. This is despite the push to make BBC Online more and more widely available. “Apps are a big part of our plans to make BBC Online more easily accessible on mobile devices,” said Daniel Danker, general manager of BBC Future Media and Technology.

“These apps are coming at a time when we’re really beginning to see massive growth of people using BBC iPlayer on mobile devices. Over Christmas, growth in mobile use of BBC iPlayer outpaced PC growth by more than 2-to-1, and BBC iPlayer growth on tablets outpaced PCs by more than 20-to-1.”

Meanwhile, reviews of the new app were mainly positive. TechRadar called it “a masterpiece in simplicity. The content sits at the forefront at all times and the albeit slick-as-you-like interface sits very much under the surface…. There are two main sections in the app – one for TV content and one for radio. Each section has two sub-sections – a ‘Featured’ screen which showcases (debatably) the best shows currently available, a self-explanatory ‘Most Popular’ section as well as a ‘For You’ screen which seems to do nothing other than recommend the same shows you saw in the other two sections.”

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