A hybrid licence fee and subscription model is one of the options under consideration for the future funding of the BBC. Typically misreported on one national front page as being pay-per-view – a commercial proposition rarely used outside of boxing – subscription is proposed in the Government’s Green Paper as a potential funding mechanism for the long-term.
“While this has some advantages, the technology that would be required to introduce it – specifically access controls – is not yet widely available in homes. As such, if this option is considered desirable it would need to be introduced over a longer period,” says the Green Paper.
The proposals also recognise that subscriptions to premium services may turn out to be more expensive than the current model and only generate a small saving for the licence fee payer.
A proposal for a smart card reader never made it to the final Freeview specifications when they were drawn up prior to October 2002.
The other options are a reformed licence fee or a media levy.
Part of the reforms would be a closing of the so-called ‘iPlayer loophole’ that allows viewers to download or view catch up content without a television licence. There is concern that BBC income might fall as more viewers switch to online viewing alone. Another issue here is that devices used for online reception might be easier to conceal than the traditional TV set.
Plans to decriminalise not holding a TV Licence for viewing appear to have been set aside.