BBC iPlayer gets a cautious go-ahead from Ofcom

MUMBAI: BBC Trust has given the green signal to BBC management to provide broadband audio and video services-iPlayer. They have, however, incorporated changes made by the BBC Trust on the recommendations made by the communications regulator Ofcom following a market impact assessment.

The proposed BBC iPlayer would provide a seven-day catch-up service featuring a large proportion of programming available for download over broadband. It will also include simulcasting services over the internet and making selected radio programmes available as downloads without digital rights management restrictions.

The BBC iPlayer had a public value test, following a three-month period of industry consultation. Some of the recommendations by Ofcom included reducting the storage duration of downloaded programmes for up to 7 days from the original 13 weeks that BBC had asked for.

Ofcom observes that the demand for services delivered over broadband is developing rapidly. It suggests that over the next five years linear television viewing may fall by 20-30%, to be replaced largely by the increased use of on-demand services. A similar pattern is anticipated for audio programming.

However, it adds that it would not be in the wider public interest for the BBC's involvement to restrict competition, innovation or choice. It notes that "unchecked, the BBC's power in nascent markets could harm the stimulus of competition necessary to ensure quality content for the long-term".

The BBC Trust said in a statement that the Ofcom market impact analysis forms only part of its public value test process, adding that "in reaching our eventual decision, we must also consider the potential public value created by the on-demand proposals".

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