From 1 September all users of the BBC's catch-up service iPlayer will be required by law to hold a TV licence.
The Government previously recommended the new rule closing the 'iPlayer loophole' should come into effect this autumn, but a 1 September deadline was rubber-stamped in Parliament on 7 July.
Currently you only need a licence if you watch TV as it's broadcast, but the change means anyone who uses iPlayer – whether to watch live BBC channels or stream or download programmes on demand, and regardless of which device or network provider you're using – will need to pay the £145.50/year fee.
Some people are eligible for a free or discounted licence – see our TV Licence guide for more info.
Anyone who uses the online catch-up service from midnight on 1 September without being covered by a valid licence will be breaking the law and risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 (plus potential legal costs and/or compensation) – the same penalty for breaching the current rules.
Though the Government's white paper suggested a verification procedure to gain access to the service, ie, users would have to prove they'd paid the licence, TV Licensing says it will continue to use the same enforcement methods as previously – including letters and visits from 'enquiry officers'.
An advisory notice will be posted on the iPlayer site, and TV Licensing will send letters to unlicensed addresses advising them of the change in the law. Anyone who already has a TV licence will be covered and won't have to do anything.
What does TV Licensing say?
"As of 1 September 2016, a change in the law means you need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand – including catch-up TV – on BBC iPlayer. This applies to all devices, including a smart TV, desktop computer or laptop, mobile phone, tablet, digital box or games console.
"Even if you access BBC iPlayer through another provider, such as Sky, Virgin Media, Freeview or BT, you must have a TV Licence.
"As before, you still need a TV Licence to watch or record any live TV on any channel no matter what device you use. For more information, please visit tvlicensing.co.uk/iplayerinfo."