30/04/2007

BBC 'iPlayer' on-demand catch-up approved

The BBC has received the go-ahead for its 'iPlayer' on-demand television service.

The BBC Trust issued approval for the BBC Executive's proposals for new on-demand services, with some modifications.

Programmes will be available for seven days after broadcast and downloaded episodes may be stored on computer for 30 days.

The Trust's provisional conclusions were subject to an open consultation that attracted responses from 10,500 individuals and organisations. Following consideration of the responses, the Trust amended two of the conditions of its provisional approval.

Diane Coyle, BBC Trustee and Chair of the Trust’s Public Value Test Steering Group, said: "The consultation has demonstrated considerable public support for the on-demand proposals.

"Thanks to the thorough assessment through the Public Value Test, and with the modifications which resulted from the test and the consultation, the Trust is satisfied that the BBC's new on-demand services will create significant public value with limited market impact. We have therefore given our final approval for the services to be launched."

Most responses to the consultation came from individuals, the majority of whom supported the proposals and believed that, as licence fee payers, they should have maximum access to BBC content. A significant number of responses were received from industry and commercial stakeholders, some of whom reiterated their concerns about the potential for adverse market impact.

Diane Coyle said: "The over-riding responsibility of the Trust is to act in the public interest. This means that, when considering the potential market impact of new service applications from the BBC, we must focus primarily on the effect on consumers who enjoy the choice offered by content and services beyond those provided by the BBC.

"In our provisional conclusions we proposed a number of modifications to BBC management's plans and sought feedback from the public and the media industry. Having considered the responses carefully, we've made two changes to our provisional conclusions."

The changes involve series stacking and platform neutrality. The condition attached to series stacking limits series stacking but the facility will remain. However, the Trust has applied a 15% annual quota for series stacking with revised editorial guidance to the BBC Executive on the type of series which can be included.

The condition attached to platform neutrality for Digital Rights Management downloads has changed. The Trust said it had noted the strong public demand for platform neutrality and called on the BBC to meet this demand within two years. The BBC Trust will audit progress on this issue every six months. The stipulation should mean that the on-demand programmes, initially for Windows PCs, will be available on differing computer types, such as Apple Macs, in due course.

(SP/KMcA)

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