iPlayer given the green light by BBC Trust

The BBC Trust has given the go-ahead to the BBC Executive’s controversial iPlayer on-demand plans. The plans have been given the green light despite fears from its commercial rivals that the scheme would allow the subsidised broadcaster to dominate video-on-demand.

The decision-making body has given final approval today for the iPlayer, the corporation’s proposed online seven-day catch-up TV service. After a public value test, approval was granted with two amendments proposed by the trust in addition to BBC management’s original plans.

The proposals were the first to go through a public value test since the Trust replaced the BBC Board of governors earlier this year.

The Trust’s provisional conclusions – published in February – were subject to an open consultation, which 10,500 individuals and organisations responded to.

A majority of responses were submitted by 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.

The Trust now says that no more than 15% of the content on the iPlayer can be available for “series stacking”, where users can download multiple episodes of TV series and only certain types of programming will be offered this way, such as limited-run drama series.

But the iPlayer will allow users to stack up previous episodes for the duration of a series, not just seven days after it aired. All other content on the iPlayer will be less than seven days old.

Following “strong public demand”, the trust will also audit the BBC’s progress in making the iPlayer platform neutral every six months. Original proposals were for a service that would only run on Microsoft Windows operating system, with Mac compatibility unlikely within two years.

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