BBC launches public value test into iPlayer

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The BBC's governors have launched their first public value test, probing the value to licence payers against the potential impact on commercial rivals, of the iPlayer, the corporation's proposed internet TV application.

Previously known as the Integrated Media Player (iMP), the iPlayer was trialled by 5,000 web users over a four-month period ending in February. BBC future media chief Ashley Highfield said the internet download application—which allows licence payers to catch up with television and radio programmes within seven days after broadcast—promised to revolutionise broadcasting.

On average triallists watched two programmes per week via the iPlayer, with niche programmes "performing consistently well".

The BBC's governors this week said they had received management's formal application for approval of the iPlayer, offering:

  • Seven day TV catch-up over the internet and cable TV
  • Simulcast TV over the internet
  • Non-time limited audio downloads over the internet.

The public value test—a procedure introduced under the Government's shake-up of BBC governance, and a key plank of the new 10-year BBC Charter due to begin on January 1, 2007—comprises:

  • The public value assessment, measuring the public value which would be created by a service. This will be conducted by the Governors' own advisers in the Governance Unit.
  • The market impact assessment, measuring the likely impact on existing or potential value created in the wider market as a result of the change. This will be conducted by Ofcom.

The public value test is expected to take six months, which means the final decision on whether the corporation rolls out the iPlayer will be one of the first issues to be considered by the BBC Trust, the new body replacing the governors, in early 2007.

Lovelace Consulting  |  01.09.2006

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