Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

BBC Trust approves iPlayer revamp: commercial store will sell content

Store will be set up by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC
Store will be set up by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC

A revamp of the iPlayer which will allow viewers to access paid-for programmes from a new BBC download service has been given the go-ahead.

The BBC Trust has approved changes which would allow the catch-up gadget to link to a new commercial BBC Store, in addition to the established service allowing the audience to watch free content from the previous few days.

The overhaul will also allow viewers to watch programmes which they have bought and downloaded from the store.

The proposals for the launch of the online commercial store selling BBC content were submitted by the corporation's executive last year. The Trust had to rule whether both the new commercial service and the changes to the iPlayer were acceptable.

The BBC Trust announced it has approved proposals from the BBC Executive to launch a new online commercial service for audiences to buy and keep BBC programmes.

The store would be set up by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and at launch it is expected to include around a year's recent programming as well as roughly 4,000 hours of archive material, three-quarters of which would already be out on DVD.

After that around 500 to 1,000 hours of material is expected to be added each year.

The BBC sought guidance from Ofcom about the impact of the download store, but the BBC Trust concluded there was no need for a "public value test".

Suzanna Taverne, who led the BBC Trust's assessment, said: "The BBC needs to respond to significant changes in the way audiences now buy programmes. The creation of BBC Store will enable it to do so, and to release a greater selection of classic shows from the BBC archive.

"In considering BBC Store, the Trust conducted a robust assessment and sought the advice of external parties. It concluded that BBC Store is a worthwhile commercial service that supplements what the BBC makes available through the licence fee and promises to bring value not only to audiences but also to the wider creative industries."

The BBC Executive said in a statement: "We're pleased the BBC Trust have approved proposals for BBC Store and recognise the benefits it brings licence fee payers, those who want to own BBC programmes and the creative industry as a whole.

"We know people want to buy DVDs of their favourite BBC shows and BBC Store is a natural progression in a digital age."

The BBC is also seeking to extend the catch-up period from seven to 30 days.

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