What's next for iPlayer? BBC announces new content and revamped platform


Media Editor

The BBC has unveiled a raft of new content exclusive to its revamped iPlayer service amid fears that channels such as CBBC and BBC4 could be at risk from new threats to the organisation’s ability to collect the licence fee.

Frankie Boyle, Micky Flanagan and Morgana Robinson, are among comedians those who will provide bespoke programming for the online service, which Director General Tony Hall described yesterday as “the best online television service in the world”. Historian Sir Max Hastings, artist Goldie and filmmaker Adam Curtis will also contribute content specifically for iPlayer.

But having decided to downgrade BBC3 to an iPlayer-only service in response to pressure on its funding, the BBC warned yesterday that possible Government plans to decriminalise evasion of the licence fee would threaten other services. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Culture Secretary Maria Miller are both said to support the idea of making non-payment of the fee a civil offence.

At the launch of the revised iPlayer, James Purnell, the BBC’s Director of Strategy and Digital, said that decriminalisation could cost the BBC £200 million in income. “Say the rate of evasion was to double from five per cent now, that would be £200 million. That would be the equivalent of all of BBC4, all of CBeebies and all of CBBC,” he said. “Doing it like this very quickly would be a huge risk. The choice would then be that either we take those services off or the government would have to have a higher licence fee.”

Senior BBC figures yesterday rejected the idea that they might bow to a 200,000-strong celebrity-backed petition to reinstate to television the youth oriented channel BBC3, which Lord Hall predicted would do “some very, very new and creative things” as an iPlayer-only service.

But as the BBC encouraged more people to access its output via an iPlayer service that promises an enhanced user experience, there are concerns that the broadcaster will find it harder to make the case for its annual charge.

Colin Browne, chairman of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, said his organisation supported the fee but that the growth of iPlayer-only material weakened the BBC’s position. “It tends to undermine the case for the licence fee,” he said.

The licence fee only applies to live broadcasts and not for content viewed on-demand via iPlayer. Decriminalisation could increase the numbers of people who argue that they should not pay the £145.50 annual fee because they only watch BBC shows outside the schedule.

Mr Purnell said it was “for the government to decide” whether such catch-up viewing should be subject to the licence fee. “In 2004 the government decided that consumption of live TV on computers [should be] covered by the licence fee as well. We think that in principle it should be possible for catch up content to be covered as well, we think that would be a sensible modernisation.”

Users of the new iPlayer will be urged to sign up to ensure a personalised service that allows them to pause viewing of a show on one device and continue watching from the same point on a different media platform. But Ralph Rivera, the BBC’s Future Media Director, promised the BBC would operate a “gold standard” in managing user data.

Victoria Jay, head of iPlayer programming, announced three shortform dramas for the online service. Adam Curtis will explore the themes of hypocrisy, deception and corruption in a trilogy of films. Goldie will guide iPlayer viewers around the “Matisse: The Cut-Outs” exhibition at Tate Modern and Sir Max will curate a series of interviews with Great War survivors, filmed in the Sixties.

Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director television, defended the decision to give a platform to Boyle, who was dropped by Channel 4 following jokes that were deemed offensive. “We are not in the business of banning specific comedians because of jokes they have told elsewhere,” said Cohen.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride