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BBC Trust: iPlayer users should pay licence fee

June 24, 2014

diane-coyleDiane Coyle, the acting chair of the BBC Trust, says the corporation will put forward proposals that people who only watch its content via the iPlayer should still pay the licence fee.

Coyle, the BBC Trust vice-chair who has applied to become Lord Patten’s full-time replacement, also defended the existing licence fee system, saying it remains the best funding model for the corporation.

Coyle told a lecture at the LSE it was right that there should be a debate about decriminalisation of licence fee evasion, including the potential impact on BBC income. “We will also want to put forward some ideas about how to incorporate on-demand viewing to iPlayer into any future licence fee system,” Coyle said. “There is every reason to think the licence fee, which pays for the creation of new programmes no matter how they’re viewed, is the best model and a sustainable model for at least another charter period.”

She said the upcoming review of the BBC charter and funding mechanism, beginning after the May 2015 general election, should be “very different” from the licence fee deal hurriedly negotiated with the then recently-elected coalition government in October 2010. Coyle lamented this had resulted in the negotiation being lumped together with the government’s spending review, which led to the BBC being forced to take on extra funding obligations while the licence fee was frozen until 2017.

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