BBC boosts iPlayer window extension in deal with UK Indies

Joseph O'Halloran | 18-10-2013

Pact, the UK’s independent production companies’ trade association has confirmed new terms of trade for the commissioning of its members’ programmes on BBC channels.

Described by the corporation as ground-breaking, the deal is designed to achieving the mutual benefit of enabling the BBC to provide greater access to content for the Licence Fee payer and for the currently buoyant indie sector to provide broader opportunities for audiences to find the programmes they love on commercial platforms.

Significantly, especially for the BBC, the deal recognises and enables the proposed extension of the iPlayer’s free-to-air catch-up window from seven to 30 days and provides for content availability on the soon to be announced BBC Store which will offer a commercial digital video library. Both developments are subject to approval by the BBC Trust but are designed to address an anomaly where over 90% of BBC content produced each year is unavailable for audiences after its initial exposure. The ambition is for the majority of BBC content produced to be available to buy and keep, alongside a growing selection of the archive.

The framework for the BBC Store envisages a new business model which delivers returns directly back to programme producers and other rights holders, and will deliver benefits to the sector as a whole regardless of individual company size.

The BBC believes that independent production companies will benefit from digital rights being available to the wider market from first broadcast and a reduction in the period before which independently produced programmes can feature on other UK television channels.

“The UK’s independent production companies now produce over 40% of TV content for the BBC, explained John McVay, chief executive of Pact. “This is a good deal for the indies that will help UK creative companies to better exploit their programmes on other digital platforms and sustain the commercial success of the world’s most successful independent sector.”

Added the BBC’s commercial director, Bal Samra: “We are delighted to have agreed this ground-breaking deal between the BBC, Pact and the independent sector, extending our partnership and providing new opportunities that will act as a digital catalyst for the whole industry. This deal will provide real value for licence fee payers, as well as increased access to the BBC content they love, with more opportunities to watch BBC content for longer, find and buy digital programmes to keep, and discover gems from the BBC’s archive.”