The BBC Trust has provisionally decided to approve the new on-demand services, subject to certain conditions and modifications. The BBC Trust's conclusions are in line with a market impact assessment conducted by the Office of Communications (Ofcom).
The new BBC Charter, which came into force on 1 January 2007, requires the BBC Trust to undertake a public value test (PVT) before a decision is taken to make any significant change to its public services. This comprises both a public value assessment, conducted by the BBC Governance unit, and a market impact assessment (MIA) to be conducted by Ofcom.
In August 2006, the BBC management applied to the BBC Governors for permission to introduce the following new "on-demand" services:
- Seven day catch-up TV over the internet. This would include "series stacking" facility which allows an entire series of programmes to be stored and viewed within seven days of the broadcast of the last programme of that series. It would also allow downloaded programmes to be stored for up to 13 weeks before viewing.
- Seven day catch-up TV over cable and Homechoice. This would also include series stacking.
- Simulcast TV over the internet. This involves making BBC programmes available over the internet at the same time at which they are broadcast,
- Non-DRM audio downloads over the internet. This involves making BBC radio programmes, other than full-track commercial music, available to download from the internet without the need for digital rights management (DRM). The programmes could, therefore, be available, for example, on MP3 players
- The BBC Trust has provisionally approved the new services. However, it has accepted that the recommendations made by Ofcom are necessary in order to minimise the market impact of the new services.
The BBC Trust invites comments on its provisional conclusions by 28 March 2007. It will announce its final decision before 2 May 2007.