BBC Trust relaxes iPlayer syndication rules

14.52 Europe/London, November 9, 2011 By Julian Clover

The BBC Trust has softened its approach to the carriage of BBC content on third party platforms. The BBC’s regulatory body has now published its conclusions on the Syndication Policy that would have previously restricted the inclusion of BBC content to three standard versions of the BBC iPlayer. An exception would only have been allowed where a platform operator was unable to adopt one of the three versions.

In a statement, the Trust said it maintained that licence fee payers will usually best be served by securing access to the full range of BBC content on other platforms and devices within a BBC ‘environment’ such as the iPlayer. However, it now accepts that circumstances may occasionally arise that justify special arrangements that depart from this model.
“Licence fee payers should be able to find BBC on-demand content available on lots of different platforms, but this has to be done in a way that gives value for money and satisfies some basic principles to ensure that BBC content serves the public as it is meant to. We’ve taken on board what the industry told us earlier this year. I hope that we have reached a sensible way forward in this complicated area, and we will take account of any final views before publishing the new policy early in 2012.”
The Trust has not given any examples of how the revised policy might be put into action, though it appears to clear the way for BBC content to be included in something like the Sky Anytime+ pull VOD service. Unlike Virgin, Sky does not have a version of the iPlayer available.
A new consultation will now until December 21, 2011 with a final report due for publication early in 2012. The BBC Executive is expected to shortly make clear how it proposes to implement the new rules.