Update Thursday 19 May: Since we published this story, the Government has recommended that the loophole which allows viewers to watch BBC iPlayer without a TV licence should close this autumn, instead of in January 2017, as previously reported. TV Licensing has told us it's now working to close the loophole this autumn.

Viewers who watch BBC iPlayer on catch-up may have to pay for a TV licence from this autumn, while funding changes will result in the end of a six-year price freeze.

In April, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale outlined changes to the BBC charter that will see the price of a licence fee rise with inflation and also close the loophole that allows people to watch non-live BBC content via iPlayer for free.

But last week the Government released a white paper recommending the loophole closure happens this autumn, meaning catch-up fans may need a licence in a matter of months.

Previously the rules on needing a licence to watch catch-up TV had been expected to change on January 1 2017, as the BBC's current charter expires on December 31 this year. However, TV Licensing has since confirmed to us that it was always intended for the loophole to be closed before the turn of the year.

A TV Licensing spokesperson confirmed the body is now working to meet this recommendation, but an exact date for the rule change hasn't yet been set.

Explaining the changes, Whittingdale said: "There is no perfect model for funding the BBC. But given the stability it provides and the lack of clear public support for any alternative model, the licence fee remains the most appropriate funding model for the next charter period."

For more info on whether or not you require a TV licence, check out our dedicated guide.

Martin Lewis
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Who will need a TV licence from this autumn?

At the moment, you only have to pay for a licence for watching TV and live programmes online – irrespective of the channel you're watching. This means that, as things stand, if you choose to watch TV content through catch-up services – such as iPlayer – you don't require a licence.

However, when the rules change you'll need a TV licence to watch all BBC content online.

How will the cost change?

Since 2010 the cost of a TV licence has been frozen at £145.50 a year. However, under the incoming changes, the cost of a TV licence will increase in line with inflation (which currently stands at 0.5%).

But it's been confirmed that free concessionary licences to over-75s will still be available.

What about other catch-up services?

If you watch BBC programmes through iPlayer or any other catch-up service, such as TV Catch Up, you must have a licence.

For non-BBC channels you can continue to watch content online through other on-demand services (such as ITV Player or All 4, formerly 4oD) without a licence, providing that content isn't livestreamed.

Why are these changes being brought in?

Over the past five years there's been a significant shift in the number of people choosing to view BBC content online as opposed to through the television set.

Between April and June 2015, 25.6 million viewers watched BBC content online, in comparison with 19.8 million over the same period in 2011.

It's estimated that following the changes the BBC will receive more than £18 billion between 2017 and 2021.

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