Calls for users to be charged "micro-payments" for iPlayer

The chief executive officers of Talkback Thames and Fremantle Media (the parent company of Talkback Thames) have shown support for a "micro-payment" model for the BBC iPlayer. According to an article by the BBC yesterday, Lorraine Heggessey of Talkback Thames and Tony Cohen of Fremantle Media have added to the support from the media industry to introduce a new revenue model for online catch-up services.

According to research by Fremantle, users would be willing to pay up to £2 to see their favourite shows using an online catch-up service based around a micro-payment model. Catch-up services have proved popular since their initial release, with Channel 4 releasing their own, and Five doing the same.

Although other broadcasters are calling for support for micro-payment schemes to be implemented, a BBC spokesperson said "the cost of the BBC iPlayer is covered by the licence fee, so UK users have already paid for this service."

The BBC iPlayer has become popular following its release in late 2007, and has spread to numerous platforms. However, Steve Hewlett, former director of programmes at Carlton Television, thinks the BBC should charge users to watch shows using the iPlayer service. "Traditionally, licence fee payers have paid for access on a TV set - and only for the first transmission," he said. "The BBC never thought it was appropriate to give away DVDs, so why should catch-up be free?"

However, the fact that the BBC does not charge for its iPlayer service could make it difficult for other broadcasters to start charging, he mentioned.

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