Ofcom greenlights iPlayer window extension to 12 months | Major Businesses | Business
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UK regulator Ofcom has provisionally concluded that the BBC can go ahead, subject to certain conditions and guidance, with changes to the iPlayer.

iPLayer 19 Feb 2017The BBC first announced plans to enhance the live, on-demand and catch-up service in November 2018 with the most notable change being change iPlayer from a service where programmes are available to catch-up for 30 days after broadcast, to one where programmes are available for a year as standard, with some available for longer.

The BBC said that its plans would lead to the iPlayer reaching more people and people spending more time with it, demonstrating that high personal value would be delivered. It announced quantitative research showing that 71% of current users would expect to use BBC iPlayer slightly or a lot more following the proposed changes, while 22% of people who didn’t at the time use BBC iPlayer would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ start to use it. The BBC also estimated that the reach of the iPlayer would increase by 11.5% and minutes of viewing would increase by 29.5% by 2024, compared with what would happen without the BBC's proposed changes.

Ofcom subsequently criticised the BBC for lack of transparency regarding its iPlayer development plans and mandated the BBC to conduct a public interest test to properly assess the changes’ value and potential impact on other broadcasters. In addition, as required by the BBC Charter and Agreement, Ofcom undertook a competition assessment to consider these plans.

The provisional conclusions of this assessment were that even though Ofcom found that the proposed changes to BBC iPlayer would pose challenges for other public service broadcasters’ video-on-demand services, the proposed changes could also deliver significant public value over time. In particular, it pinpointed potential increased choice and availability of public-service broadcast content and help in ensuring that the BBC remained relevant in the face of changing viewing habits.

Moreover, even though it concluded that such public value justifies the impact on fair and effective competition, and that the BBC could proceed with its plans, the move was subject to certain proposed conditions and guidance to ensure the BBC delivers future public value, and to mitigate against risks to fair and effective competition.

As it gave its guidance, Ofcom said it was now inviting views from interest or affected parties on its provisional conclusions by 10 July. It expects to publish a final decision by August 2019.