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BBC iPlayer TV Service Starts to Block UK VPN Services

Friday, October 16th, 2015 (11:07 am) - Score 7,594

In an effort to clampdown on Internet piracy the BBC has decided to block users of UK Virtual Private Networks (VPN) from being able to view their online iPlayer video streaming content, which has also restricted access for many legitimate users.

The iPlayer service is typically meant for TV viewers in the United Kingdom only and is funded by the licence fee. An international access service did use to exist for iPlayer, which required subscribers to pay a small fee, but that was closed down. In any case the BBC states that the vast majority of BBC iPlayer usage is in the UK.

However imposing a ‘dumb block’ against VPN services doesn’t just prevent foreigners from accessing iPlayer, it can also stop British expats and license fee paying UK citizens who may also be using such a service. Some Satellite using UK users may also suffer.

Many UK Internet users also adopt VPN’s to help keep their connections secure, such as when online at a public WiFi hotspot. A lot of businesses also run corporate VPN networks to help keep their workers connected when away from the office.

A BBC Spokesperson said (TorrentFreak):

We regularly make updates to our technology to help prevent access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK which breaks our terms of use. BBC iPlayer is freely available to users across the UK without a VPN, and we also seek to ensure users of private VPNs such as those used by schools and companies in the UK have access.”

Naturally the BBC are keen to retain the value of their international content licensing deals, but such changes may also encourage users to hunt around for less legitimate sources and those can then become very attractive due to the wider choice of content.

Most VPN’s can probably get around such restrictions simply by cycling to a different pool of UK IP addresses (some have already “fixed” the problem) and so very quickly we return to the familiar game of whack-a-mole.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
26 Responses
  1. I think it should be our right (All Uk citizen) to watch all uk content from all over the world. It should not be blocked and i am totally condemn it. In fact due to this geo restricted issues, we have to buy vpn account. In fact i my self personally have 3 account of top vpnranks just because of unblock my favorite content. Although in some case its right but for our its not.

  2. Roy says:

    I am a UK resident. I pay tax in the UK and have a TV licence. When I go on holiday, I take a laptop with me. I sometimes want to watch British TV programmes on the aforementioned laptop. Can anyone tell me why I should not be able to so?

    1. Kal says:

      Because you could, theoretically, have a party and show BBC programmes on a large projector from your laptop where foreigners, who have’t paid a TV license, would be able to watch our British programmes, for free!!

      …I’m kiding, :). I totally agree with you. Even to the extent that family members of mine who retired and live in Spain, having paid a license fee for over 40 years, should have access.

  3. Dave Wade says:

    Well it appears to be doing more than block VPN addresses as my personal VPN does not work, yet I can watch TV on my laptop via TeamViewer remote control. They are both using the same IP address externally so not sure what its doing.

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