BBC Trust gives iPlayer go-ahead

The BBC Trust has given the go-ahead to the corporation’s iPlayer on-demand service, but with a number of changes including some proposed by media watchdog Ofcom.

 Diane Coyle, the BBC Trust member who chairs the public value test steering group, says: “Our view is that the BBC’s new on-demand services are likely to deliver significant public value, and should be allowed to proceed, but subject to certain conditions in order to reduce the potential negative market impact.”

Ofcom gave a cautious thumbs-up to the iPlayer when it concluded a market impact assessment (MIA) last week. Changes proposed by the Trust, the body which replaces the BBC governors, as part of its public value test include limiting the storage window for seven-day catch up of shows to 30 days from 13 weeks.

It has also taken up Ofcom’s suggestion that long-running series such as EastEnders and Top Gear be omitted from “series stacking”. However, shorter-running shows such as Dr Who and Strictly Come Dancing would be included.

A policy for syndicating the corporation’s on-demand content to operators such as Google and Yahoo will be drawn up by the Trust.

BBC management has been asked to ensure that the on-demand TV services work on all computer operating systems, not just Microsoft’s Windows XP and Windows Media Player 10.

The Trust has also asked management to draw up options for providing parental controls to protect children from viewing unsuitable content through the download service.

Plans for audio books and classical music performances as audio downloads have been shelved, following Ofcom concerns that the potential market impact would outweigh public value.

The Trust’s proposals will go to further consultation, with a March 28 deadline for submissions. A final decision is expected in May.

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