BBC considers archive fees for viewers

William Hartnell as the Time Lord in the the first series of 'Doctor Who' The BBC is digitising many decades of shows for online, including past episodes of Doctor Who

The BBC is considering whether to charge people who want to watch or listen to archive programmes (outside the iPlayer catch-up window), as more of its back catalogue becomes available through digitisation.

The idea is one of a number of options being looked at in order to recoup the expensive cost of transferring many decades of BBC content onto the internet.

As outlined in the DQF plans, the BBC intends to provide "permanent access wherever possible" and is working "to put the BBC's rich back-catalogue online by a mix of public and commercial means".

Any system of "micro-payments", i.e. a small fee per programme, could only be implemented after a BBC Trust consultation and discussions with indie programme-makers and the wider industry.

A BBC spokesperson said: "We never stop future-gazing at the BBC and there are always a number of new ideas under discussion. Any such ideas would need to be developed in conjunction with the industry and with rights-holders."

However, a member of the Taxpayers' Alliance expressed concern about a "two-tier licence", telling The Sun that, "Audiences pay through their licence. It doesn't seem fair to charge them twice."

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