Advanced Television

Ofcom consults on iPlayer archive content

October 19, 2022

By Colin Mann

UK broadcast regulator Ofcom is inviting feedback on its analysis and provisional views relating to the BBC’s proposal to increase its catalogue of older content on BBC iPlayer.

Ofcom’s job, as required by the Charter and Agreement, is to ensure that changes the BBC wishes to make to its publicly funded TV, radio and online services do not inappropriately harm competition. To do this, it first needs to judge whether a proposed change is ‘material’ – that is, whether it may have a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition.

Since 2019, audiences have been able to access programmes on BBC iPlayer for 12 months from broadcast as standard. Older programmes are also available – for example past series of returning titles – but the BBC currently limits their availability. Under its proposals, the BBC is proposing to no longer apply these limits and increase the amount of older content on BBC iPlayer.

The evidence available suggests that the impact on other competitor broadcasters will be limited. So Ofcom is minded to agree with the BBC Board’s findings, following its public interest test, that the proposals do not represent a material change.

This is based on assessing the risks to competition over a reasonable timeframe and does not imply setting limits on how much of such content the BBC could add. Ofcom says it has been clear with the BBC, however, that it will still be required to consider whether future changes to BBC iPlayer could have a material impact on competition.

Responses to the consultation must be submitted by November 14th 2022. If, having considered that feedback, Ofcom remains of the view that the proposal is not material, the BBC may go ahead and implement the change. Should it conclude the change is material, the plans will be subject to further scrutiny by Ofcom.


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