Ofcom has given the BBC provisional approval to extend the iPlayer catch-up window from 30 days after linear broadcast to 12 months.
The BBC has proposed a 12-month catch-up window as the standard, with children’s programming available for five years and some content available for longer.
Ofcom is carrying out a competition assessment on the proposal to explore the public value of the change and the impact on competition. “Our provisional conclusion is that the public value of the proposed changes to BBC iPlayer justifies the adverse impact on fair and effective competition we have identified,” the regulator says. “Over time, we consider the BBC’s proposed evolution of BBC iPlayer could generate significant public value, through increased choice and availability of PSB content. To some extent, this reflects the fact that viewers’ expectations have already changed and that the BBC needs to keep pace so that it remains relevant for audiences now, and in the future. We are, however, concerned about the competitive challenges created, particularly for other PSBs’ VOD services and potential U.K. entrants such as BritBox. Viewers to these services could potentially feel the impact if there is less investment in those services as a result. Therefore, our provisional conclusion does not mean the BBC is able to extend and develop BBC iPlayer free from further regulatory control.”
Ofcom says it is proposing that conditions be placed on the BBC “to ensure it regularly reviews and reports on the way in which the new BBC iPlayer will contribute to the delivery of the BBC’s mission and public purposes under the Charter.”
The consultation period ends July 10, with a final decision expected by August.