Because I forget stuff. Part of

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Originally posted June 13 2006 at 23:06 under General and Computing. Comments Disabled. Trackbacks Disabled.

Stream TV Pay TV


So the BBC decided to stream world cup footage online, along with a hoopla about how this would let people stuck at work watch it (though they were careful not to use so many words to encourage such skiving). Now, we see the reason they like this idea. They’ve decided it all needs to be covered by a TV licence (so it’s the TV Licensing Authority, but that’s just semantics ). One of the most worrying things about this is how ready the press seem to be to simply regurgitate the licensing authorities press release without questioning. Indeed it was quite difficult in a quick search to find any sort of challenge.

It has long been accepted that, fairly obviously, a computer equipped with a tuner card requires a licence. But one which isn’t, but which is connected to the internet. Well, the appropriate laws unfortunately do manage to cover this (like most actual laws they’re written in a way pretty difficult for the lay person to follow, and cross-reference various acts for exact definitions….they were also conveniently more or less rewritten not so long ago). It’s arguable if it’s the spirit of those laws though. More than that though, it’s not the first time the issue has been raised, and OFCOM (the regulatory authority) seem to thing think there may be a loophole (via). In any rate it’ll be interesting if the authorities actually go after a relatively large company with the clout to legally challenge this in court, though it’ll probably be left to the little guy if that’s to happen at all as the £1000 fine is usefully small enough to be written off as not worth the legal fees.

This whole thing stinks of another attempt by the BBC to get this base covered. Which is itself just part of a bigger issue. Remember, the BBC would love to tax computers in some way—they undoubtedly could form an even larger revenue stream than televisions, especially as practically every business has one as well as private users. Firmly establishing this “broadband needs a licence” idea in the mindset (whether it’s factual correct or not) is an obvious first step towards this. The stance of the authorities has always been you need a licence for the TV whether you actually watch TV or not. It’s a small step to you need a licence for the broadband able computer whether you use it to watch TV or not.

As I said in that post earlier this year, rather than trying to bring their outdated concepts somehow into line with the changing world the BBC themselves need a fundamental shift in their views. Especially when it comes to the online world.

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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