New rules come into effect
TV licensing now applies to catch-up viewers
Those who chose to avoid the fee by watching online must now buy a licence, whether they are watching live or on catch up through the iPlayer.
Previously, only viewers who were watching shows as they were being broadcast required a licence.
That meant it was legal to watch content after broadcast via the catch-up service without paying the annual £145.50 fee.
Students may find themselves mainly subject to the change as many watch on smartphones or on laptops.
In some circumstances, students can be covered by the licence at their parents’ address and the are advised them to check for details on the BBC website.
A TV Licensing spokesperson said: “We know the vast majority of people are law abiding and would anticipate those who need a licence for the first time will buy one.
“We have a range of enforcement techniques which we will use and these have already allowed us to prosecute people who watch on a range of devices, not just TVs.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “At present, a pop-up window appears asking viewers to confirm they’ve got a TV licence when they click to play live BBC content on iPlayer, and from today, that will update to include on-demand BBC programmes on iPlayer.
“The vast majority of households – around 94% – are already licensed so this change will not affect them. You still need a licence to watch or record live TV on any channel.”
The new rules apply to all devices used to access iPlayer – including laptops, smartphones, tablets, TV streaming devices and games consoles, as well as through third-party services such as Sky, Virgin or BT.
Those who already have a TV licence will not be affected.