BBC tests live mobile TV – with threat of prosecution

The BBC has quietly launched a beta test for a live mobile TV and radio service. The corporation’s broadcasts were already available on-demand via mobile and all stream live over PC web; now Auntie is taking them to UK mobile users at — but they will need a WiFi handset.

The service is said to be available on only a small number of handsets at present (it works neither on my iPhone nor Nokia (NYSE: NOK) N95), and the BBC reminds viewers watching the live TV streams without a TV license is “a criminal offence” that could lead to prosecution and a £1,000 fine. Earlier this year, BBC mobile head Richard Titus told me the Beeb sees mobile as connecting with a younger audience.

Update: The BBC wanted to clarify that the beta for mobile TV actually started in September 2008 and though it doesn’t work on the iPhone, it is accessible on various wifi-enabled HTC, Samsung, Motorola and Palm devices. It emphasised that this is not a new service, however, and that some live TV and radio has been on iPlayer via mobile for some time.

“The BBC has been running a public beta to test live TV/radio, on a limited number of wifi-enabled handsets, via the mobile homepage since last September. The purpose is to test uptake and quality and assess how we might be able to stream live services to an increasing number of mobile devices in the future, but we are some way off this becoming a full BBC service.”

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