Advanced Television

BBC consults on iPlayer programme availability

January 8, 2019

By Colin Mann

The BBC is launching a public consultation on its plans to reinvent BBC iPlayer – making it a destination in its own right, with box sets, live programming and archive titles that champion quality UK content and offer great programmes for longer.

The BBC is proposing:

  • Programmes should be available on BBC iPlayer for at least 12 months after they are first shown
  • Complete series box sets for selected titles made up of returning series and their previous series
  • More content from the BBC archive
  • These plans respond to audiences’ expectations, particularly younger viewers, who expect the BBC’s great programmes and box sets should be available for longer than 30 days.

The improvements to BBC iPlayer will also ensure that the BBC continues to deliver value for money for licence fee payers following increased competition from US streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, alongside UK services such as ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play and Now TV all of whom can make their content available for much longer.

“We know that in the future BBC iPlayer will be the main way many people will want to watch the BBC,” commented Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content. “It already is for many younger viewers. These changes are about ensuring we continue to deliver value for money to licence fee payers – and meet expectations of viewers who want to watch full series whenever they choose to.”

“It’s also important that regulation recognises that there should be a level playing field for public service broadcasters, to ensure British stories are being told for British audiences.”

The consultation published by the BBC is aimed at industry stakeholders. It is the first formal step in the BBC publishing a Public Interest Test, as required under the Charter for Material Changes to the BBC’s UK Public Services.

The consultation closes on February 15th 2019. Following the consultation, the BBC will consider stakeholders responses, before the BBC Board approves the Public Interest Test.

The Public Interest Test will also consider: the BBC’s proposals, including any changes it makes in response to this consultation; the public value of these proposed changes; and the potential impact on fair and effective competition the changes may have.

The BBC expects to publish the Public Interest Test in Spring 2019. Ofcom will then complete a BBC Competition Assessment, or a shorter assessment on the potential market impact of its proposals, before making a decision on whether these changes can go ahead.

In November 2018, Ofcom directed the BBC to conduct a Public Interest Test to assess properly the value and potential impact on other broadcasters of a number of  the proposed changes, having provided its plans to Ofcom for consideration.

Ofcom decided the BBC’s proposed iPlayer changes were material and suggested that the Public Interest Test process will ensure that any legitimate competition concerns and potential market impacts are fully considered by the BBC, alongside the public value benefits.


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