(Pocket-lint) - The government's white paper on the BBC Charter has been published and one of the stand-out changes will be the expected close of what is termed the "iPlayer loophole".

Currently, people in the UK can watch BBC programming through BBC iPlayer for free, without having to pay the BBC licence fee. As of 2017 that will no longer be an option.

BBC iPlayer access will be covered by the annual licence fee, which currently stands at £145.50. From next year, those streaming shows but not paying could be prosecuted in the same way as those watching BBC shows on TV without a licence.

READ: BBC iPlayer to embrace Ultra HD as part of the Beeb's 'long term plans'

The white paper even puts forward the potential of securing BBC iPlayer access behind a membership log in, much like subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Video. That way only those who have paid the licence fee can actually access it.

The government proposes that this will also benefit users when travelling to Europe on holiday, who will still be able to watch UK programming on a mobile device abroad through their log in. That's currently not possible.

The white paper also states that the licence fee will rise over the next five years in line with inflation. It has been frozen since 2010.

Writing by Rik Henderson.
  • Source: BBC Royal Charter White Paper - gov.uk
  • Image Credit: (cc) tunnerarmr - flickr.com
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