Live streaming of BBC1 and BBC 2 over the internet forces every PC owner to buy a TV licence.
The apparent good news that BBC1 and BBC2 are going to be streamed over the internet to people in the UK should be something to celebrate (see this report on BBC News). But there’s the small matter of the TV Licence fee, the yearly ‘Telly Tax’ of £139.50 that has to be paid by:
“You need a TV Licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they’re being shown on TV”
Take careful note. That’s not ‘if you use your PC’, that’s ‘if your PC could be used to watch live TV.’ Given the BBC will probably use the technology to use the iPlayer through a web page, that means every computer in the UK is now liable for the TV licence, even if they never watch the BBC live streaming service.
This is going to be a logistical nightmare – when shops sell a TV receiver they have to send the address details to the authorities. Will the same happen for every PC sold? £139.50 please. How about students, and those that don’t watch TV but use a computer for email, coursework, or talking to relatives in New Zealand? £139.50 please. Buying a new Nokia smart phone with the iPlayer pre-installed by your operator? £139.50 please.
Of course there is no national database of computer users in the UK. But there is a database that tracks all TV licence payees (and refuseniks). It won’t be long until everyone with a computer has to register with a government agency, and that’s a rather scary prospect.
Those of you with long memories may remember the Labour Government in 2005 exploring options to put in place a ‘compulsory levy on all households or even on ownership of PCs as well as TVs.’ Looks like they just got their wish by the back door.