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Public service broadcast. No more ‘Bake Off’ on iPlayer unless you've got a TV licence!

By Cath Clarke

If you didn't already know, BBC iPlayer changed its rules this month to make it illegal to watch programmes on demand without a TV licence. In the past you only needed to pay the annual £145.50 fee to watch shows live on the service, but the law now extends to older programmes on catch-up. It's not clear yet how the new rules will be enforced. At the moment, the Beeb is relying on good old-fashioned British honesty – confirming with a tick box.  

But from next year the iPlayer is changing again. Anyone using the service will have to log in with a personal account, creating a BBC ID – which will include your postcode. TV Licencing say they won't use the information to track down non-payers, but sceptics are suggesting that by requiring a postcode, they are nudging those of us who don't have licences. 

Around 94 percent of homes are covered by a licence. And fewer than 2 percent use catch-up services only according to TV Licensing. But a big chunk of those who do are under 35. 

A TV licence costs £145.50 a year, or £49 if you want to go retro and watch a black and white TV. The new rules don't apply to All 4 or ITV Hub. 

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