Dear Sir,
I have every sympathy for those ex-pats who wish to pay the BBC licence fee and thus “legally” watch BBC programmes by whatever means may be devised to make it happen. I’m sure the BBC would like the extra cash. Technically there would be a way...however the over-riding problem is that for royalty and other payments I can see no solution. For instance, the BBC pays fees to screen much of its output and these fees are based on its UK footprint and number of viewers. For an FA Cup game the BBC would pay a great deal of money to the FA for the rights. In a drama, repeat fees for actors are based on a UK audience: the whole process is regulated, and even at a local radio level when my football team are playing the commentary fees are based on the FM and DAB footprint (which is very local) and is not allowed to be put on the internet which would spread the commentary further. That’s why you are usually prevented from watching BBC i-player if you try to log in via a foreign internet provider.
So, whenever we watch a UK broadcaster in Majorca we are cheating the system. With Sky, your card has to belong to a UK address, so they do receive a subscription even though you are viewing abroad. Presumably Sky advertisers are happy with this nod-and-a-wink system, and any Sky executive visiting Majorca will be aware that a Premiership game for which they have paid huge fees based on a UK audience is also being shown in Majorca’s clubs and bars.
There are always ingenious ways to overcome a broadcaster’s technical attempts to prevent illegal viewing or listening, so you are quite right, we need to find a legal way of being able to view or listen to what we want wherever we may be, and we have to be prepared to pay a fair price for it. The BBC is in a worse position than Sky, who not only get a subscription for the UK-based card, they also get a vast income from advertising, so it isn’t a level playing field.
Someone with better knowledge than I needs to get all parties together to devise a workable mutual solution. If they don’t, the broadcast thieves will stay ahead of and deprive income from the broadcasters. My bank card works in machines all over the world and I pay when I use it and it is personal to me. We need some sort of broadcast equivalent.
Steve Riches
Northampton, UK

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