In a statement, the BBC said “we are interested in being able to allow UK licence-fee payers to access BBC iPlayer while they are on holiday in the EU,” backing plans set out by the EU yesterday that will allow European residents to travel with the digital content they have purchased or subscribed to at home.
The UK public broadcaster said that the UK government’s commitment to modernise the licence fee next year to include on-demand as well as linear viewing “will mean users of BBC iPlayer could be verified as UK licence-fee payers while they are on holiday in the EU.”
However, the BBC cautioned that there are still complex technical issues to resolve and that “aspects of the [European] Commission’s proposal need clarification.”
Announcing the proposed regulation to permit “cross-border portability of online content services” yesterday, the European Commission’s impact assessment document made reference to the iPlayer as a “concrete example” of an online service that uses access restrictions based on geographic location.
“Many [consumers] report seeking to view a video online via YouTube, but being blocked by a national collective management organisation for copyrighted content. Others signal the lack of access to popular video on demand services such as Netflix and the BBC iPlayer, which are currently only available to the residents of some EU Member States,” said the European Commission.
The BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, previously trialled a subscription-based version of the iPlayer in Europe, however it officially ended the Global iPlayer scheme earlier this year.
The iPlayer catch-up service is currently available free for UK TV viewers, with a TV licence only required for viewing live, linear BBC TV content.
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