Bbc iplayer plans delayed

Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s media regulator, has voiced concern over the effect that proposed improvements in the BBC’s iPlayer on-demand service. This has led the demand for the BBC to conduct additional public interest testing to compare the public value benefits against the impact on market competition.

The BBC has planned to make changes to its iPlayer on-demand service in order to satisfy and retain current users and to attract new customers. This is a proactive effort to adjust to the changing environment in viewing patterns within the on-demand market.

The changes were characterized by BBC’s board as ‘non-material’. This meant that there would not be a need for an in-depth public interest test. Ofcom used the BBC’s own filing estimates that show that its plans could substantially increase the market share of the company over the share realized in the previous year.

Ofcom disagreed with that conclusion saying that a possible significant increase in iPlayer viewing could adversely affect market competitors such as Now TV, My5, All 4, and ITV Hub. Ofcom advised that the result of these changes could result in the providers of on-demand services could find it difficult to earn sufficient revenues from their own content.

A BBC statement in support of the changes point to the well-funded foreign tech companies who are driving the changes in the industry, but do not share the focus on investment in British programs and talent. The company’s goal is to create a better user experience for its audience, especially younger viewers, and be able to deliver excellent British content that reflects Britain’s rich culture.

BBC’s board has called on regulators to act in the public’s interest by supporting the growth and health of the country’s creative industry.

Ofcom did not order the BBC to halt its planned changes as is the normal practice in most of these cases. Until the required test is complete, the BBC will still be able to implement a limited number of the planned changes to its services.

Agreements that the BBC has already acquired starting in 2018 and before the date of the decision handed down by Ofcom will still be allowed to be used in the iPlayer in order to benefit from the investment.

The BBC will also be allowed to offer new series and archived series to the public as boxed sets. However, they will only be able to market them for an amount of time that is shorter than the BBC had originally proposed.

Ofcom cited the BBC’s lack of transparency in the way the company communicated its plans to the regulating agency, which also demanded that the BBC also include future plans for the next year into the test. The agency stated that this requirement is to lessen the possibility for another intervention in the following year.

While Ofcom has caused some delay in the full implementation of the BBC’s iPlayer planned service improvements, the issue might have been far worse. Once the public interest test is complete, the BBC will likely be able to complete the remainder of the improvement intitiatives.
 

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