BBC Trust Rocks UK Broadcasting Boat With TV Downloads

02 May 2007

LONDON: In what some among Britain's commercial broadcasters see as another two-fingered salute from the newly constituted BBC Trust, the latter announced Monday it had approved a range of on-demand TV services available via the internet.

However, the decision of the BBC's governing body does not entirely ignore the concerns of its commercial rivals.

In one concession, the BBC is restricted from storing its more popular program series beyond thirty days, whereas it had sought 13 weeks.

And so-called 'series stacking', which allows consumers to store whole series of programs, is capped at 15% of total BBC on-demand content.

Nor will the on-demand service be allowed to offer book readings and classical music downloads, the Trust said, after considering objections from commercial rivals. The latter fear the availability of such services for free could deprive them of income.

But to the chagrin of some consumer groups and rivals, the Trust has okayed plans to utilise Microsoft's Digital Rights Management system (as integrated into its new Vista operating software). Opponents of the proposal are concerned it will lead to platform-partisanship.

However, the Trust has attempted to reassure critics by undertaking to carry out six-monthly audits of the BBC's platform-neutrality and publish its findings.

Other UK broadcasters are hard on the BBC's heels. The nation's largest commercial company, ITV, will launch a similar web-based service later this week and Channel 4 also plans a similar service.

NewsCorp-controlled BSkyB has already made its content available online.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff