EXCLUSIVE: New EU plan means YOUR licence fee could fund BBC for 500 million Europeans

BBC chiefs have been warned plans to extend the catch-up service iPlayer to Britons on holiday in Europe could leave it open to 500million people – most of whom won’t be paying a penny.
Free and unfettered access to Britain’s taxpayer-subsidised state broadcaster is one of the outcomes being predicted after European Union officials called for a radical deregulation of the market.

Brussels want the British public to be able to use catch-up services abroad, meaning Britons living and travelling in Europe could watch their favourite programmes while on-the-go.
However, the move has raised questions over how the service could be policed across a ‘border-free’ zone spanning thousands of miles, with one expert in online TV streaming warning: “It’s possible all EU citizens will be able to access iPlayer content without paying a licence fee”.
Nick Fitzgerald, CEO of TV2U, said: “Currently, it’s easy to block users outside the UK from accessing an online video service like iPlayer based on their location.
“However, as the BBC is looking to extend access across Europe, this means of restricting usage will no longer suffice.
“In theory, should this happen, any user would be able to access iPlayer content, regardless of whether they’re a UK citizen or not.”
He added: “To counteract this, technology now exists that makes it possible for online video on demand services such as iPlayer to identify exactly when and where a device is accessing content, and to establish whether or not they are watching it lawfully.

“If they’re breaking the law, it’s possible to cut that connection immediately.”
The BBC tonight admitted it was concerned that the move could reduce the income it receives.
“We support the Commission’s aim to further develop the Digital Single Market, helping citizens gain digital skills and making it easier to bring new services to audiences,” a spokesman for the corporation said.
“However, we would have concerns about any proposals that weakened the funding for new content or no longer allowed us to tailor services to audiences in individual countries.
“We note the Commission’s interest in making services more portable to UK users while temporarily travelling in Europe, and will begin work to look at the technical and legislative implications.”

Nick Braund, head of technology at PHA Media, also cautioned that it would be “extremely hard” for BBC bosses to ensure its content was only accessible to license-fee-payers.
“Whilst expansion into Europe could be a very positive thing for EU residents there is also the potential for a negative backlash from British taxpayers,” he said.
“It would be extremely hard for the BBC to prevent EU citizens from downloading content from iPlayer and this of course is not necessarily fair or ethical’.
The Commission’s proposals would mean that TV services Netflix and Sky Go were also available across the continent.
The wide-ranging plans could also affect parcel deliveries, data roaming charges and VAT.