I wonder if I asked this here before, or if I just thought about it? Here’s hoping I didn’t do the former…
I was watching BBC America and thought of this question: Could I, not only a U.S. citizen but a full-time resident of the mainland U.S., pay the license fee and receive the actual BBC feed—not anything like World Service, but the bona fide terrestrial transmissions?
It shouldn’t be any more difficult than getting the Metro Edition of the NYTimes here. <grumble grumble>
If you paid the fee and it was available in your area somehow, I don’t see why not. I also don’t see how they could make money off of making it available in your area, though. There would have to be a lot of interest in it, I think.
Not right now. The BBC doesn’t broadcast in the US.
In the future, though, it MAY be possible. The BBC is currently experimenting with streaming its content live over the internet – a few weeks ago, a supposedly secret trial was leaked on some internet message boards, and people all over the world were able to watch a weekend’s worth of programmes from three of the BBC channels (including the most hotly anticipated episode of the new series of Doctor Who, which pleased the American fans mightily).
However, the BBC’s plans are to restrict these webcasts to UK-only ISPs when the system actually does go live. There are a number of reasons for this: BBC TV is funded (as you know) by a mandatory licence fee paid by residents of the UK – they have no mandate in their charter that would allow them to use any part of that money to provide a service for people outside the UK – even if those people paid the licence fee. Also, the BBC sells many of its programmes abroad – if it were already broadcasting those programmes in those territories itself, that revenue stream would dry up. Moreover, some programmes broadcast by the BBC are licenced from elsewhere (movies, US shows etc) – they simply don’t have the right to show this material outside of the UK.
So, although it will soon be technically possible for you to receive the UK BBC output as a high-quality webcast, their are a number of sizable obstacles to overcome before it could be made legally possible.
there are groups whose hobby is trying to pick up TV broadcasts from other parts of the world. Given the right atmospheric conditions sometimes signals can bounce quite a long way beyond their intended catchment area. Of course the picture quality may not be great.
A service/receiver/network device that I’ve seen advertised in the back of Wired magazine purports to do this. You subscribe to the BBC or Russian television or whatever in their home countries, and install the receiver there. You connect the receiver to a high-speed internet link. You then connect to the receiver form anywhere on the internet and, with sufficient bandwidth, you can watch your legitimate subscription anywhere in the world.
To me, though, this seems to imply that you need an apartment, or at least a hosting service and an address, in the target country.