TV Licensing: The catch-up loophole

In the UK, we are required to pay a fee of £145.50 per year, in order to watch live TV. This is live TV via iPlayer, Sky, Freeview or any service out there, which shows the live broadcast of a TV programme. However, a loophole existed allowing viewers to watch TV shows on “catch-up”, for free. This loophole was removed as of September 1st, 2016.

Interestingly, TV licensing will only be required on the BBC iPlayer catch-up service, not for all the other services (ITV Player etc). It’s an odd change, which seems to push TV Licensing more (if it wasn’t apparent already) to being a money-gathering organization for the BBC.

Traditionally, roumers of BBC “detector vans” driving up your street could see TV signals being received. This pressured and scared unlicensed viewers into licensing their properties to use a TV.


There have been many reports that these vans are dummies and do not actually work, but in the other hand, there are many stories of them being real – personally, they are fake (or have improper methods of detection).

The telegraph revealed that TV licensing vans will now prowl the streets snooping on people’s WiFi, checking for access to iPlayer. How’s it going to work? It’s not, it’s probably just a publicity stunt to try scare unsuspecting unlicensed viewers into coughing up. The TV licensing authority will just have to continue assuming guilt to all unlicensed households, in attempt to get more people licensed. This doesn’t force you to buy the license, but it certainly would convince some people.

Currently, BBC iPlayer has no valid method for checking TV license status, and by their site’s current stance, something tells me that the honour system is all they can come up with – especially in today’s society, where technology is so confusing.