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24 September, 2009

I wouldn't

Commercial TV executives have suggested that online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer should no longer be free, instead requiring users to make micropayments (though up to £2 a time isn't so 'micro').

"The BBC never thought it was appropriate to give away DVDs, so why should catch-up be free?" he said. "Traditionally, licence fee payers have paid for access on a TV set - and only for the first transmission."
That's a non-sequitur: iPlayer and DVDs are entirely different concepts: one is a time-shifting mechanism, whereas the other is storage. The specific display medium (TV or PC) is irrelevant, too.

If I'm unable to watch a TV programme at the original broadcast time, as my TV licence allows, iPlayer enables me to watch it later. However, it doesn't give me a copy of the programme: I can only watch via the iPlayer interface and only for a limited period after the initial broadcast (I think it's a week or the duration of a series plus a week). There are illicit workarounds, of course, but rather more complex than simply linking a DVD recorder to a TV.
In contrast, if I buy a DVD, it's mine: I can watch it as many times as I like, for as long as the DVD format is supported by technology.

"The technology now exists that can make payment straightforward. Once you have your account you tell it to buy, it's easy - in essence it's quite attractive. At iTunes prices, I would pay."
Not merely to view once. If I paid (to access something I've already paid for via my licence, remember), I'd consider it a purchase, and would expect to keep the recording forever – just like a DVD.


Sounds sort of like the recent news that record company executives think Apple should be paying them performance royalties for 30 second previews.

Posted by danbee at September 24, 2009 08:48 PM

You can already buy shows like Torchwood from iTunes - though they are shrouded with DRM, you do at least get to keep them, unlike iPlayer which is just a catch-up service, as you say.

If it was, say, 20p per show I may be inclined to pay that. But not 2. Unless they get rid of the thing that deletes what you watch after 30 days, in which case it would just be like iTunes is now.

Posted by Neil T. at September 25, 2009 09:05 PM
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