I’m not writing this issue of my newsletter.
All right, I’ll actually do the typing, since I’m the one sat at this computer. And I don’t mean you on your own. I mean lots of you – lots of my readers. (Can I call you “my public” without sounding like I’m trying to be a 1930s Hollywood actor? Thought not.)
Because after my last email (about BBC iPlayer and having to log in to it) several people asked a few questions. And since different people were asking the same things, I thought “I bet other people are wondering the same” – so here are the answers in case you’re one of them.
The main question was what if you’re over 75? People were worried that they wouldn’t be able to use iPlayer if it started demanding a TV licence because being over-75 they didn’t need one.
Well, when it first comes in, the new login won’t be linked to TV licences. I suspect it will be at some point, but the BBC haven’t said when. So to begin with you just need to create a (free) login when it asks you to, give it a few details (your name, postcode and some other bits and pieces) and that’s it.
But what happens if and when they do link it to licences, so you have to give it your TV licence number?
Well, I’ve had a read up on this and as far as I can make out (I’m no lawyer) when you reach 75 you do still need a TV licence – it’s just that you don’t have to pay for it. (And I’m not sure whether you have to renew it every year or the same one just carries on forever.)
I must admit I’ve no idea how strict they are on this and whether there are lots of over 75s who don’t have a licence at all – it might be that the BBC don’t worry about it since the licence would be free anyway or it might be that they’re very strict – I have no idea.
So even if you do have to put a licence number in at some point at the the future, if you’re over 75 you should have a free licence (or can get one) and you’ll then be able to put that licence number into it and have free access to iPlayer, just like to conventional TV.
The next question was what about listening to radio on iPlayer? And yes, you will need to set up a login for that. Again, at the moment it’s not linked to licences so it’ll let you listen to the radio without a licence but if they do link it in the future, I’m sure they’ll still allow you to have an account or login set up without a TV licence number in it – and then you’ll be able to listen to the radio but not watch TV. It already will sometimes ask you whether you have a TV licence if you’re watching TV but won’t if you’re listening to radio so they could simply add it to the bit of the program that does that.
And finally what about watching iPlayer on a Smart TV? Well, they haven’t actually said what’ll happen here but my best guess is that they’ll still require a login. You’ll have to use the remote control to type in your password. It’ll be a bit fiddly – some have a full keyboard and some have three letters to each number key and you press it once for the first one listed, twice for the second and so on. So I hope they make sure it remembers the password so you don’t need to do it every time.
If that does happen, I’d recommend you set up the account in the first place using a PC or tablet (or even a smartphone), then log into it from the smart TV. That way you don’t have to type in all the details on the remote control – your name, postcode and so on. I can imagine otherwise it could be a real fiddle to do!
And a website tip that is from me:
I said I wasn’t writing this issue, but I couldn’t resist sneaking in a tip that came to mind while I was writing this.
A while back I mentioned that if you go to a website and it loads looking peculiar – all jumbled up – that it’s probably just a blip and if you reload it (or refresh) it’ll probably be fine.
In fact if you get a worrying error message (one with a 3 digit number, like Error 500 or whatever) the same can be true. It might be that there’s a temporary problem at your end or theirs (or in between!) and refreshing the page (usually you just press f5 on a computer or tap a little circular arrow pointing at it’s own tail on a tablet – on a smartphone you often swipe to drag the whole page downwards and then let go) will often sort it out.
If it doesn’t you might want to wait 5 or 10 minutes and then try it again. It’s often as simple as a computer at the other end is having some problems and needed to be restarted – and once it has been, it’ll work again.
Worth knowing before you assume you must have done something wrong!