The government has announced plans to alter the TV licence fee structure to include a requirement to hold a TV licence to view programmes made available through the iPlayer as well as programmes watched lived (either online or through the TV).

This has been longstanding loophole to avoiding having to pay the TV Licence fee (so long as you are content to watch the programmes at a later date), but the loophole was not widely used as people still tended to watch at least some broadcasts live, meaning a TV licence was still required. With the increasing availability to online catch-up programmes and the need to protect funding for the BBC make this step inevitable, though there are no details about how this requirement for a licence maybe monitored and enforced. It forms part of a proposal from government to protect ways of monetising digital content including a new drive to tackle ad-blocking software.

The culture secretary has vowed to end the iPlayer “loophole” soon, so those watching catch-up TV do not get “a free ride”.

John Whittingdale said the licence fee would be extended so it no longer just applied to live television viewers.

He told the Oxford Media Convention he would bring forward the legislation “as soon as practicable”, later adding it could be in this parliamentary session.