The BBC is in the process of developing a version of its popular iPlayer service for use outside the UK. The service will initially only be available in Europe and then only for a subscription fee — £10 a month is one figure being bandied about.

The European iPlayer service won’t be quite the same as that available in the UK and, rather than offering viewers to watch programmes live or that were broadcast within the last 30 days, it will instead act as a showcase for programmes produced by the BBC.

Like many location-specific web services, iPlayer uses the IP address of your computer to determine its location — this is a unique online identification number assigned by your Internet service provider (ISP). IP addresses are country-specific, so it’s easy to determine a computer’s location and block access to iPlayer for anyone who isn’t in the UK.

Since iPlayer is funded by the TV licence fee, it should technically only be available to licence fee payers (currently £145.50), but the BBC makes no such demand for catch-up programmes. It does, however, point out that it’s a criminal offence watch live TV through the service without a TV licence — though it can’t stop anyone from doing it.

Similarly, it is possible to circumvent the IP address detection system to get full access to iPlayer from outside the UK with very little know how.

Although the full details of the European iPlayer offering a still vague, it so far doesn’t sound like much a replacement for a satellite dish set-up for European travellers keen to catch up on Eastenders — not least since that particular programme was singled out as being unlikely to be available on the service.

[via The Guardian]