BBC submits iPlayer proposals to Ofcom

Popular suggestions face regulator scrutiny

by Andy Bassett Apr 26, 2019 at 12:25 PM

  • Following a Public Interest Test, the BBC takes its suggested improvements for the iPlayer service and submits them to Ofcom for approval.
    In a bid to continue to offer value for money to licence fee payers and to maintain relevance in the fast changing environment of instant media consumption, the BBC has proposed several changes that will bring iPlayer more in line will other streaming services such as Netflix.

    The proposed changes include extending the period that content is initially available for viewing on the platform from 30 days to 12 months and to increase the number of box set titles available. This means that when a series is re-shown, all of its previous seasons will be made available at the same time. Additionally, a greater selection of content from the BBC archive should be showcased.

    The BBC was already starting to treat a number of programmes in this way and recent box set availability has included popular hits like Luthor, Bodyguard and Killing Eve.

    Charlotte Moore, Director, Content, said: “Audience expectations have changed dramatically, viewers are now used to being able to watch what they want when they want, and they expect much more from BBC iPlayer."

    The conclusions of the Public Interest Test state; that the changes are needed to bring the BBC in line with industry standards, that there would be no adverse effect on competition and that to retain the limitations currently imposed on iPlayer ‘risks undermining the BBC’s ability to continue to innovate and evolve its service in line with changing market norms and audience expectations.’

    The public feedback during the consultation demonstrated that almost two thirds of people surveyed felt that the changes would deliver better value for the licence fee and that 66% felt the changes would make the service more appealing to a wider range of consumers.

    The proposals are by no means guaranteed to be accepted and will now be considered under a BBC Competition Assessment by Ofcom. Previously, senior BBC officials had expressed frustration at the slow and complex nature of the consultation that Ofcom had insisted on and BBC chairman, Sir David Clementi, recently said that the regulator’s approach ran the risk of “tying ourselves up in red tape and regulation at a time when media organisations need to be fast and agile”.

    An Ofcom spokesperson explained, “We recognise that the BBC needs to innovate and keep pace with viewers’ needs. Under the BBC’s Charter, our role is to check whether these changes might harm popular, competing services like ITV Hub or All 4 – and if so, whether that’s justified by the value to BBC viewers. Now we’ve received the BBC’s own assessment, we are able to work swiftly and expect to conclude our process by August.

    The survey showed that most viewers support the proposed changes, let’s hope Ofcom see it that way too.

    Image Source: BBC

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