BBC to reduce YouView reliance on BT, TalkTalk
The BBC Trust has endorsed the BBC’s continuing participation in the Internet-connected TV service YouView, subject to a number of conditions, including a commitment to introduce promptly new specifications that will allow content providers to deliver content without being required to use BT or Talk Talk’s delivery network, subject to the minimum quality standard.
A review carried out by the Trust assessed whether YouView was complying with the terms of the Trust’s approval in 2010 of the BBC’s involvement. Trustees had committed to carrying out this review when the original approval was made.
Four areas were examined in particular:
- The availability of access and usability features, for example for the visually impaired;
- The use of on-screen ‘signposting’ about suitability of content, and availability of parental controls;
- The way that YouView is promoted to audiences by the seven partners involved, in particular by the BBC, and whether the BBC was favouring YouView in any promotional activity;
- If the BBC’s involvement in YouView has had an effect on whether commercial public service broadcasters involved in the venture decide to make their programmes available to YouView’s competitors in the market.
Following a thorough review, the Trust has concluded that overall YouView is operating within the terms of its original approval. Accessibility and usability features, and editorial signposting, have been introduced, and there is no evidence that BBC promotional activity is favouring YouView or that the BBC’s involvement in YouView was affecting the decisions of other public service broadcasters to make their programmes available to other platforms.
However, the review identified some areas for improvement and the Trust will require these to be delivered as a condition of the BBC’s involvement with YouView.
A full text-to-speech function, which provides remote control functionality and helps blind/partially sighted users to browse the EPG and select and watch programmes, must be implemented in 2014/15, either integrated into set-top boxes or through external devices such as a mobile app.
In addition, YouView must commit to promptly introducing new specifications that will allow content providers to deliver content without being required to use BT or Talk Talk’s delivery network, subject to the minimum quality standard.
BBC Trustee Suzanna Taverne said the BBC had always been a pioneer in harnessing new technology to continually improve its services for licence fee payers, and its involvement with YouView was very much a part of that. “We are pleased that the conditions we set are being met, that YouView is delivering for audiences on important issues like accessibility and parental controls, and that the BBC’s involvement is not proving harmful to the wider market. There’s more work to be done to ensure that YouView truly serves all audiences and we’ll look to the venture to deliver on this in the coming months,” she stated.
The BBC Executive will report back to the Trust within three months on progress against the review’s findings.
When the Trust approved the BBC’s involvement in YouView in 2010, Trustees agreed that a review would be carried out a year after YouView launched on the consumer market, to check compliance with the conditions they had set for the BBC involvement. The review began in summer 2013.