The BBC could soon offer a paid-for premium service, according to culture secretary John Whittingdale.
He said the government will "begin to think about" the possibility when it becomes technically viable.
"That's an option," Whiitingdale confirmed on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. "It may come in time and at that time it's possible we could adopt a part-funded compulsory fee and part-funded by subscription.
"We're not there yet but we think it's right that we at least begin to think about that question and whether or not that's a direction we wish to move on in 10 years' time."
In order for this to become possible, every household would need the technology that lets the Beeb turn its channels and services on and off.
Despite the government's recent attacks on the corporation – making it pay the licence fee for the over-75s, for example – Whittingdale said he was a big fan of Auntie.
Asked if he loved the BBC, he replied: "I do. I'm a huge admirer of the BBC. I think at its best the BBC is the finest broadcaster in the world.
"But every 10 years the BBC's charter expires and that's the right time when we should look at what the BBC does, how it's financed, how it's governed and consider whether or not changes should be made.
"And that's even more important this time because of the enormous change that's taken place in the whole of the media since the last charter was renewed."